Kenya Campbell can’t put her finger on what fascinated her about airports, but she says it seemed it would be a pretty cool place to work. After almost a year of on-job cadet training at Christchurch Airport, she can confirm that it absolutely is! And here’s why.
Things could have been so much different for Kenya.
She grew up in Te Anau where her father owns a tourism kayaking business and her mother operates one of the visitor information centres.
After leaving school, Kenya went to university where she managed to complete two years of an accounting degree before deciding it wasn’t the right path for her.
“I couldn’t see myself doing it for the rest of my life,” says Kenya.
So she moved up to Canterbury and applied to get on board Christchurch Airport’s Cadet training scheme. It was a course she’d been very impressed by during careers week at high school.
It all clicked from day one.
“Everyone on the team was so welcoming and friendly,” she says.
The cadetship consists of a full-time paid job where trainees earn as they learn. Over a period of nine months, they must successfully get to grips with a wide range of skills needed to work effectively at air side, land side and behind-the-scenes of the airport.
The extensive training involves completing a total of 35 modules that make up the ServiceIQ qualification training programme: the NZ Certificate in Airport Operations with a strand in Customer Service (Level 4), and a strand in Airport Safety (Level 4).
It helps that the cadets are extremely well supported by a team of airport experts.
“There’s never a lack of resources and you can always get help and guidance from managers, supervisors and staff who have a lot of expertise and knowledge to pass on to us,” says Kenya.
One of the attractions is that every day is different.
“I love all the different people we meet. They come from all walks of life and from every corner of the world, and some of them tell the craziest stories of their adventures! You never know what is going to happen.“
She also loves the customer service side of the job.
“Airports can be quite stressful for a lot of people especially if they don’t travel often. Many people don’t ask for help even though it’s a completely foreign environment for them. It’s important to be aware and offer to assist those who look confused or bewildered, or just give an extra helping hand to families struggling with lots of luggage.”
Today, the 21 year-old aviation fledgling has secured a job as an IOC Controller with the airport’s Integrated Operations Centre.
Located behind the scenes, it’s where a highly skilled team ensure a seamless operation of the hi-tech new terminal’s automated systems such as ticketing, doors, baggage conveyors, road barriers and carparks.
“We have to problem-solve and get things done quickly and effectively so that the terminal can run smoothly and our customers can have an enjoyable experience.”
Kenya says it’s fantastic to have a full-time role, good pay, and to be learning from a terrific team of experts in an environment she loves. She still has a student loan from university but her wages help to pay it off.
Looking back over a busy year of four-day 10-hour shifts, what have been the advantages of workplace training for a qualification?
“I found it difficult to transition from high school to university, but the cadet training is done on the job so you are not thrown in at the deep end. Instead, you’re putting the theory you learn into practical use straight away so that you can understand exactly why and how it works. You’re not just learning stuff for the sake of it, you can see its practical application,” she says.
The most important thing she has learned is the airport terminal’s security boundaries, and the correct radio protocol and terminology, which is how the operations team communicate.
Learning the fine art of customer service and having the ability to communicate and make a positive impression with visitors from many different cultures is another vitally important skill she has developed.
Right now, Christchurch Airport is exactly where Kenya wants to be.
“I really enjoy my work and the people so I’d like to stay here for a while. Timing has been perfect with the training and the new job, it couldn’t be better. When I’m ready and there’s a chance to go higher, I’d definitely jump at it.”
For more information, please contact ServiceIQ on 0800 863 693 or email intel@ServiceIQ.org.nz