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National Career Development Month: Growing into the “most rewarding job”

With a background in social work, Greg Bacourt never imagined that a part-time position at Reagan International Airport (DCA) would lead him to progress his career to a management role at Piedmont Airlines. When the Team Member Services (TMS) and Training Department Manager position opened, Greg didn’t think he was qualified. “I didn’t consider applying until I was approached by the Hub Director who encouraged me to apply,” shares Greg. “The fact that he saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself was motivating. If it wasn’t for his encouragement, I wouldn’t be in the most rewarding job I have ever had.”

Greg’s role touches every Piedmont team member in DCA. He says Glen’s faith in him gave him the courage he needed to take on the arduous task of restructuring the TMS and Training departments, which had been previously structured based on the operational needs of gate 35X. “When I started this position, there was a need for standardized programs and processes, particularly payroll, recruitment/onboarding and managerial development and mentoring,” says Greg. “In addition, there were a lot of changes happening at DCA. Gate 35X had gone away and a new concourse opened, which tripled the number of flights we handled. Our employee base grew exponentially, which created an increased need for training. In many ways, the TMS and Training Department had to rebuild.”

As a department leader, Greg aspires to improve the culture in DCA by creating an environment where team members are heard and feel connected to the company. To assist in career growth opportunities, he started a mentorship program. “Having a mentor makes a real difference,” shares Greg. “A person in a position that you aspire to be in would be a great mentor. You can shadow them on the job and talk with them about how they advanced in their career.”

Greg affirms that his colleagues know that every role is important. “It’s okay to want to be the boss but learning the importance of your current role and doing the work to the best of your ability is the way to progress,” he shares. Greg reflects back on arriving to work early and doing over and above what was required without being asked, as things that were noticed by others.

Originally from Miami, Florida, Greg earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University and a master’s degree in Social Work from Florida International University. After working briefly in the legal field, he moved to Washington, D.C. to pursue his doctoral degree at Howard University.

While working a full-time job as a Program Director at Northern Virginia Community College, he also worked part-time as a gate clerk for Piedmont. Admittedly, he had no interest in aviation but enjoyed the travel benefits. When Greg was laid off from his job at the college, he sought a full-time position at Piedmont and began working as a gate compliance supervisor. He continued to progress upward to the positions of Gate Manager and Duty Manager to his current role as TMS and Training Department Manager.

In addition to the mentorship program, another initiative he is proud of is creating the “Collective”; a volunteer committee comprised of one team member from each level from agent up to manager. The group meets once a month to discuss concerns at the station. “The group allows everyone to have a voice and to sit at a table of equality, despite their title. I use the feedback from these meetings to develop and update station policy and to educate all team members. To me, that’s true leadership; knowing that each person is equally important to the success of the operation.”

From questioning his own leadership skills to receiving the encouragement to grow and thrive as a leader, Greg has come full circle. According to Greg, showing leadership qualities means a person is ready to put the needs and concerns of those who they lead before their own needs. “Leaders should first understand that they serve others, and not the reverse. Leadership isn’t power, its influence; that influence should be used to help those you lead.”

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