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Behind the Wings: Turning military training into Piedmont training success

Piedmont Systems Training Coordinator Ashley Atkinson loved her job in the United States Marine Corps where she instructed new Marines and developed a training curriculum to handle deployments. After she left the Marine Corps, she didn’t realize how much she missed the teaching aspect of her life. When she joined Piedmont, she was thrilled to use the skills and knowledge she learned in the military to train agents around the country.

Originally from Downers Grove, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, Ashley joined the United States Marine Corps in 2004. While stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Ashley served as a Marine Air Ground Task Force Planner (MAGTF) where she set up deployments, including shipments for cargo, supplies and personnel. In 2009, she became a training instructor and curriculum developer where she taught new Marines the role of a MAGTF. “I really enjoyed teaching and seeing the students’ faces when the information ‘clicked’ and they understood,” said Ashley.

After nine years of service, Ashley made the decision to stay home with her children while her husband, also in the Marine Corps, remained in the service. “I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed instructing until I wasn’t doing anymore,” she reflects. Shortly after her husband retired, Ashely knew she wanted to rejoin the workforce. One of her closest friends always raved about working for Piedmont in Yuma, Arizona (YUM) which inspired her to apply for a cross-trained agent position in at Albert J. Ellis Airport in Jacksonville, North Carolina (OAJ).

After six months in her new role, Ashley moved to Dallas and joined American Regional Training as a Systems Training Coordinator where she teaches new hire and recurrent PSA, Envoy and Piedmont agent training for customer service, ramp operations, baggage service office (BSO) and jet bridges. Ashley is grateful for the opportunity to be teaching and developing curriculum once again.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, training classes were paused. To take advantage of the downtime, Ashley and her team developed new content and raining that compiled the once three-week Customer Service Agent (CSA) course to two weeks. “I’m proud to say that I was one of the first instructors to teach the first two-week CSA class,” said Ashley. “It was very challenging trying to be cohesive with American’s curriculum because there are some aspects of training that affect the regional carriers differently.”

“Another characteristic I brought with me from the military is patience,” said Ashley. “The military is so structured and turning that off was a challenge for me. I was very quiet and direct, and realized that’s not the way to be in every job function at every organization.”

Ashley notes many similarities between the airline industry and the military but one of the main ones is the acceptance of others. “No matter where you are working, whether a military base or an airport and you transfer to another city or station, it is easy to form a family because people are very accepting.”

Ashley is happy to be teaching again and contributing her military knowledge and skills to Piedmont’s success.

Thank you for your service, Ashley!

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Behind the Wings is a Piedmont feature that highlights the accomplishments of the aviation professionals who make us Piedmont Proud inside and outside the airport. Piedmont is proud to recognize our military and veteran team members and their contributions to the success of the airline and making a difference in their communities.