Regional Executive Director – Transport Canada

Jul 19, 2016

Ever wonder what it would be like to work for Transport Canada? This summer we sat down with Trevor Heryet who is the Regional Executive Director for Transport Canada and he gave us the scoop on how he got to where he is today. Read below to find out Trevor’s advice and how important he feels it is to give back to the aviation community.

Could you please give a brief introduction of your current occupation?

I’m currently the regional Executive Director at Transport Canada. In my current role, I don’t work specifically with one mode of transportation, but instead I work in many different areas. I also regularly get involved in policy and program management.

How did you start out in the aviation industry? Was it a conscious decision or did you end up in it by chance?

I took the initiative after high school to learn to fly since I was always interested in driving cars, boats and such. Early in the process of getting my Private Pilot’s License (PPL), the idea of doing this for a living popped into my head. It was a conscious decision based on my experience at the time, and thankfully it ended up being a good one. After that, I attended Selkirk College in Castlegar B.C. to attain my Commercial Pilot’s License and graduated with a multi-engine IFR rating. That allowed me to get my first flying job working for a small BC-based charter and flight training operation. I eventually transitioned to flying jets to destinations worldwide.

What was your first job in aviation, and how do you think it contributed to your future success?

I got my first job in aviation while I was doing my PPL, working as a groomer and ramp agent at the Victoria Flying Club. What instantly struck me was how serious of an activity it is, apart from being “cool” and “fun” like most think it is. I understood that safety is everyone’s job, regardless of their position in the industry. That has stuck with me until today; it hasn’t changed. It also taught me the concepts of accountability and leadership, which led me towards the direction of my current position at Transport Canada. Being a professional pilot for many years opened my eyes to a lot of things, and I saw opportunities to instill positive change in the industry.

In your opinion, what are the three most essential skills that helped you advance in your carrier to where you stand now?

-First and foremost, it is one’s personal willingness to be a continual learner. You always have to be willing to learn in the aviation industry, because it is constantly changing.
-There is also a lot of personal leadership involved. This includes not only leading self, but eventually leading others as well. I definitely believe personal leadership is one of the essential core competencies that you build upon.

-Finally, it is the ability to make sounds decisions. The key lies in assimilating all information that is coming at you from different areas, and being able to compile it and analyze it. When this is done in an effective and timely manner, it will lead to proper decision-making.

Could you explain what you do on a day-to-day basis in your position at Transport Canada? What would an average work day look like?

I don’t have a typical work day right now. Being in my position, my day could be fully booked but I would have no idea what might happen as the day progresses. With the level that I work at in the government, you never know what’s coming out of headquarters or the minister’s office. To work in this manner, you must be very agile and flexible, but at the same time be engaged in the work that needs to be done. There are always changing expectations and tight deadlines, so there’s really no way to describe a typical day. Probably the way to describe it is that a typical day is atypical.

What are the most significant changes that you’ve witnessed during your time in the aviation industry? What are some changes that still need to be made?

I think the most significant change in the industry is the speed of technical progression. When I started in the industry, there wasn’t a lot changing. You know, the aircraft that were being flown commercially were the same ones that have been there for 15+ years. The cockpits also weren’t progressing too much, but with the implementation of new technology as of late, this has drastically changed.
The biggest area of change that is required in my opinion stems from the rapid change I just mentioned. It has to do with the fact that regulators are challenged in keeping up with all the new technology being implemented. Manufacturers are developing technology faster than the Transport Canada, FAA and ICAO can establish safety regulations associated with the technology, which is a precarious situation to be in. Our challenge now is how to move from prescriptive-based regulation to more performance-based or outcome-based regulation that allows for the safe integration of new technology without suppressing the industry’s progress or causing a burden to the industry wanting to integrate the technology into their operations.

Through your active involvement in the Aviation Leadership Foundations’ mentorship program, you have had the chance to mentor a number of young industry professionals. What is it that draws you to the program?

It’s pretty simple, I think back on my career and all the people that have helped me along the way. There were a lot of people who I engaged with personally in a mentor-mentee relationship, and many others I purely observed. These individuals helped me navigate my career far better than I could have done on my own. For this reason, I find it extremely important to support the next generation of industry professionals in the same way. I have been lucky enough to have a number of great mentees over the past three years, and I’m hoping that they will also choose to become mentors themselves down the road.

What advice would you give to students who are looking to start their careers in the aviation industry?

It is not an industry for everybody. It’s that simple. You must look past the “romance” of it, and make sure its something you’re very passionate about. Try to figure out what draws you to it, and what you’re willing to give up to succeed in it. Because nothing is free. For example, if you want to be a pilot, but you also want to be home every night at 4 o’clock, you’re going to have very limited opportunity presented to you.
The other thing I would like to mention is being true to your personal values. The industry will challenge your values at one point or another, and you have to make sure you stay true to yourself.

To finish things, I’d like to pick favorites in following categories:

a. Aircraft: The Concorde.
b. Airport: No specific favourite but I certainly enjoyed the waters off the coast of Vancouver Island during my short stint as a float pilot.
c. Travel destination: Bermuda.
d. Food: Any comfort food with some heat to it.
e. Hobby: for last 25 years it’s been about restoring classic cars and showing them.
f. Author: Authors that make you think, such as Len Deighton and John Le Carré.
g. Musician: I have a very eclectic taste that ranges from jazz to rock to New World, etc.

The Aviation Leadership Foundation’s Mentorship Program 2016 where Trevor participated as a Community Leader

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