Chris Strong, Senior Vice President, Conventions and Membership, NBAA
How long have you been at your current organization?
This is my 10th year with NBAA
What are your responsibilities within your organization?
I work within a pretty wide swath of the NBAA team, including primary responsibility for our three large annual conventions, NBAA-BACE (held each year, currently in either Orlando or Las Vegas), EBACE (held annually in Geneva, Switzerland) and ABACE (held each year in Shanghai, China). Additionally, I am responsible for strategic direction for membership and member programs.
Describe a typical day or week in your role.
It’s tough to describe a “typical” day, but that’s part of what’s exciting about my job. I am probably on the road 40% of the time on behalf of our conventions and conferences. I try to be in touch with my direct reports daily, if possible, to see where things stand in regard to various projects, and how I can help the people managing those projects. I also liaise across our internal divisions, ie: communications, operations, government affairs, as much as possible, as these groups really hold the key to NBAA being a great membership organization.
What do you love most about your job?
There are a ton of little things I love about this job. It is front-facing and customer driven, and delighting our members on a macro level – at a show, or with a new program, for example – is very rewarding. More fun, though, is the very personal nature of this business. We pay a great deal of attention to service complaints, and work to resolve all that we can, as quickly as we can. Quite often, I will receive a complimentary, even glowing note about someone on our team who’s done exceptional work in a addressing a concern. It’s hard to put a value on that kind of rewarding experience.
Why did working in the Business Aviation industry interest you, and how did you get started?
So, don’t tell anyone, but I was not drawn to NBAA exclusively because of a profound love or particular interest in aviation – rather, I’m a career association professional, who has always understood the value associations can provide to their industries. I worked for 15 years in development with the National Association of Manufacturers, and another 4 years with the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. My work with NBAA started 10 years ago, as an opportunity to help lead a great DC trade association. Across that decade, I’ve been honored to contribute to the association, but equally important, I genuinely have come to understand the value of business aviation, and more compellingly, the tremendous passion shared by the professionals within the industry. Simply put, this profession is truly contagious.
Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?
I am a pretty ardent reader, and someone who routinely listens to books-on-tape. When consuming information in both ways, I often turn to history as a general category, because I’m always interested in how past leaders came to their hard decisions, or brilliant ideas. While these are often people without a notable pedigree, they can also be geniuses, the courageous, or those who were in the right place at the right time. Many famous leaders in history fit one or more of these categories, but what they often have in common is that they faced their own crises of confidence, and confronted tough odds in one or more situations. To understand their thinking, and their approach to team– building, has been important to me. It’s one reason why a first question I will ask anyone I talk with is: “What are you reading?”
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Fortunate, passionate, grateful.
What one item would you never travel without on a long-haul flight?
Music. In particular, I have a playlist called “Home”, which I boot up as we approach an airport after a long trip. Artist Vonda Shepard has a song called “Maryland” (my home state) and it focuses me on the reason we do all of the crazy work we do – for those we come home to.
Finally, what is your hidden talent or hobby?
I love fantasy football. It is a fun diversion, very social and…I have won the NBAA Office Championship in two of the last three years.
Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The association represents more than 11,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.