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National Career Development Month: Taking the leap and landing in Safety

Candace DeGroat never imagined her passion for sharing the importance of safety as a flight attendant instructor would open a door to a position as a Safety Manager. A chance for career growth prompted her to step out of her comfort zone where she discovered an opportunity to share her safety expertise across many Piedmont departments.

After nine years of working as a flight attendant and instructor, Candace now views Safety from a different lens overseeing safety programs for Inflight, Flight, Maintenance and Dispatch in action. In her current role, she works with Inflight to review safety data and encourage discussion around what safety improvements can be made. Having experience as a former flight attendant, she understands the trends that our flight attendants see so they can work together for better solutions. “I know the challenges our team members see when it comes to safety firsthand and the questions that our flight attendants have. To help establish some clarity around safety, I created a safety reporting guide for flight attendants that outlines the different applications available in Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) and what should be reported where.” She also created small safety handouts for both new hire flight attendants and recurrent training. “My thinking was, ‘how can I make safety information more accessible to flight attendants?’ With the additions of the reporting guide and handouts, as well as posters in the crew rooms, I received great feedback, and created similar guides for Maintenance.”

Originally from Columbia, South Carolina, Candace enrolled at the Airline Academy in Daytona Beach, Florida where she began training for an airline career. After graduation, she began valet parking cars at Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) while she interviewed for flight attendant positions with regional airlines. She received an interview with Piedmont and from the beginning, felt like Piedmont was her home. She joined the Inflight department as a flight attendant based in New Bern, North Carolina in October 2013.

Working as a single flight attendant on the deHavilland Dash-8 appealed to her because it provided opportunities to be more personal with passengers. “I loved being a solo flight attendant,” Candace shares with a smile. A little over a year later, she decided she wanted to grow in her role and applied to be an Air Transportation Ground Instructor (ATGI). In February 2015, she started her new role as a part-time ATGI and is proud to say she helped train flight attendants on the new fleet type when Piedmont transitioned from the Dash-8 to the Embraer 145. “I didn’t realize at first how much I would love instructing but I really enjoyed it.”

When a Safety Analyst position opened, it piqued her interest. “I had been instructing on safety for so long so I thought maybe there was something else I could do involving safety that I might enjoy.” She applied and joined the Safety department as a Safety Analyst in November 2022. In the role, she analyzed Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) reports for Flight, Maintenance and Dispatch as well as incident reports for flight attendants and fatigue reports.

Candace says she made the right decision joining the Safety department. “I’m learning more about safety and seeing the larger picture in the operation and how all departments must work together to make safety a top priority.” When the Safety Manager position opened, she wanted to take everything she had learned as an analyst and apply it to all safety programs for Flight, Inflight, Maintenance and Dispatch. She was promoted to Safety Manager less than one year later.

Candace never thought about being anything other than a flight attendant but is grateful she stepped out of her comfort zone to pursue a passion. “There is always a fear of the unknown but sometimes you have to take a leap and try something new. My experiences as a flight attendant are applied to my position in Safety every day.”

Interested in working for a company who encourages their team members to grow and offers advancement opportunities? View Piedmont’s current openings here.