Industry voice: The Standard approach to MRO engineer recruitment
Recruitment and retention are important in any business, Jeff Osato explains the methods behind StandardAero’s processes for finding and keeping the best employees
The maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business is a highly technical, regulated and process-driven environment. In addition to the technical focus of the business, talented employees are key to StandardAero’s success. The foundation of its business is customer service, and employees who are skilled at their job and care about their career, teammates and the customer ensure great service. In order to accomplish this great service, StandardAero is committed to attract, train and retain individuals who are technically skilled, willing to learn, and act in service of the team and the customer. Employees must blend high-level technical and internal skills, and they are expected to complete tasks accurately, timely and within compliance requirements, while preserving an environment of care, respect and teamwork.
In Winnipeg, Canada, StandardAero is the sole aviation engine MRO employer in the city. Despite this, candidates with directly related experience are still not readily available. This is an added challenge when the company is growing rapidly.
Draft and develop
Over the past two decades, StandardAero has relied on a ‘draft and develop’ methodology for creating engine MRO talent in the workplace by partnering with local technical and post-secondary schools to recruit future employees. This partnership provides work experience and job shadowing opportunities to technical students – these opportunities introduce technicians to the company's environment and culture. StandardAero provides summer intern opportunities to engineering, business administration and information technology students – the programs provide meaningful tangible experiences while acclimatizing students to the workplace.
StandardAero provides summer intern opportunities to engineering, business administration and information technology students
Our current partners include high schools, such as Technical Vocational High School and Maples Collegiate, and post-secondary institutions, such as the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Engineering and Asper School of Business, Red River Polytech including the Stevenson Aviation Campus, Neeginan College of Applied Technology, and the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology.
Clean and tidy
The work performed at StandardAero is a unique blend of technical work and teamwork, and the employee-focused programs support this environment. The facilities also emphasize the company’s commitment to cleanliness, safety, communication, career development, teamwork and flexibility. Each of the facilities
across the world are designed to have a very similar look and feel; reminiscent of the model operated by McDonalds or Walmart: when you walk into a facility, you know you are at StandardAero.
Safe and secure
Employees face potential safety hazards in a work environment filled with chemicals, heavy lifting, sharp parts and tools. The facilities have 24/7 on-site security who maintain safety for employees and the customers’ assets. This commitment to safety ensures that our employees are able to leave work in the same healthy condition as they arrive every day.
Communication and feedback
This commitment to safety ensures that our employees are able to leave work in the same healthy condition as they arrive every day
StandardAero prioritizes employee feedback through various initiatives. The majority of the Leadership Team do not have dedicated offices, rather, they are accessible to employees during the workday by being integrated into the departments. Production areas facilitate daily stand-up meetings to review requirements, successes and challenges and there are team boards with pictures to identify the employees in each area and the progress of production.
StandardAero conducts an annual employee survey with focus group sessions, a formal continuous improvement process, safety improvement process and annual performance reviews. Business units conduct regular town hall sessions to communicate the status of business and the executive leadership visits the site to conduct ‘skip level’ meetings. These processes support giving and receiving feedback with employees.
Learning and growing
StandardAero encourages growth and career development. Most employees do not remain where they started. Some employees increase their depth of knowledge in a function and expand their experience with different business units or engine types, while others expand their breadth of knowledge by moving to different positions or functions. There are many examples where employees have started as a Technician or Summer Intern and progressed to Manager, Director, Vice President and even Chief Financial Officer positions. We have technicians who have experience on three or four different engine types and/or original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or have moved into leadership roles. This is a very complex business and career growth is a reality for those who practice patience, continually learn and work hard.
Teams are typically cross-functional and are co-located as close to the shop floor as possible
Working together and flexibly
Teamwork is at the heart of StandardAero’s success, and the organization designs the workplace with this in mind. An example of this is the placement of our work teams – work teams are typically cross-functional and are co-located as close to the shop floor as possible, allowing the entire team to be involved in any problem-solving. The company also funds teambuilding events to reinforce its commitment to teamwork – leaders schedule team-oriented activities away from the work area to strengthen personal connections, and these activities usually involve food, which is a staple in StandardAero culture.
Another aspect of its ethos to retain employees is workplace flexibility. The Leadership Team understands that life outside of work can be demanding, so it collaborates with employees to accommodate life events as best as possible. Whether it is an opportunity work from home when needed, adjusting a start time or leaving early to attend family responsibilities, employees are treated as individuals.
In addition to the distinct physical environment and culture, StandardAero provides formal and informal benefits for every employee. Formal benefits include company-paid group benefits with an option to pay for enhanced benefits, a company-matched pension plan, and an education assistance program for career development. Informal benefits include social gatherings such as Christmas parties for employees and children, Christmas turkeys, a company picnic, various company subsidized sporting leagues or events, various local community charitable events and in-house fun events dubbed ‘Best 2 Work 4’.
Many companies repair engines – StandardAero’s commitment to excellence extends beyond this. It has developed an environment where the company can attract, train and retain excellent staff. Employees who are cared for will then provide good care for customers. It is core tenet for its success and StandardAero will continue to maintain and improve upon the workplace for the employees