Unlikely Managers

Adrian Dolan, air traffic controller, National Air Traffic Services, Heathrow airport

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

When did you become a manager?

Three years ago. There are 12 of us on a watch and we rotate the jobs of arrivals, departures and ground control.

What does management mean to you?

It means managing the pilots to ensure that they are operating safely.

People have this misconception that pilots are in command, when they're following our instructions. English is the language of the skies, which is another difficulty - I'd rather speak to Air Ghana than Air France because their English is rubbish. Prioritising is very important, it's like plate-spinning. You need to listen to a pilot with one ear and your colleague with the other, and retain spare capacity for when something drastic happens. I once saw smoke belching from a tug that was towing Concorde. I pushed the big red crash button. I had to listen to four emergency services and the other pilots waiting to taxi simultaneously. You need to stay very calm under pressure.

What do you love/hate about it?

The best thing is the team I'm with. I hate difficult pilots.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Mike Ashley: Does it matter if the public hates you right now?

The Sports Direct founder’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn criticism, but in the...

4 films to keep you sane during the coronavirus lockdown

Cirrus CEO Simon Hayward shares some choices to put things in perspective.

Pandemic ends public love affair with Richard Branson et al

Opinion: The larger-than-life corporate mavericks who rose to prominence in the 80s and 90s suddenly...

The Squiggly Career: How to be a chief strengths spotter

When leading remotely, it's more important than ever to make sure your people spend their...

"Blind CVs don't improve your access to talent"

Opinion: If you want to hire socially mobile go-getters, you need to know the context...

The highs and lows of being a super-achiever

Pay it Forward podcast: techUK boss Jacqueline de Rojas and Google UK's marketing strategy and...