Interview with Mickael Melaye
Diversity is not a luxury; it is a necessity, an urgent necessity.Mickael Melaye
Mickael Melaye is the current Managing Director of Airbus HIS, an Airbus entity based in Dublin with over 200 staff deployed worldwide.
A senior business leader within the aviation industry with over 25 years of global experience in leading and managing various aspects of the business including business development, operations, finance, HR and technical leadership for organisations such as Airbus, Babcock MCS and CHC. A driver of strategic growth, a synergist and a propagator of sustainable development and value creation, his expertise lies in sharing organisation vision with business unit leaders as well as employees and all stakeholders in order to drive consensus in handling the challenging business situations in ambiguous and volatile business environments.
With a firm belief in maintaining professional integrity, fairness and accountability for decisions, Mickael strives to ensure that the targets of business development, new establishments, increased revenues, reduced costs and improved profitability are delivered.
As Managing Director of Airbus HIS, Mickael spearheads all business operations, undertaking strategic decisions relating to financial & performance analysis, budgets & operating plans, investment prospects and risk management & compliance to drive growth. Over the years, he has provided leadership in the areas of change, P&L, revenue enhancement, quality, brand acquisition, management of international teams, and the consolidation and streamlining of different business units.
Mickael states that integrity, sustainability and courage are his dominant values. They are rooted in his family history and legacy and he was raised to live by these values. In an ever changing world he has found them to be a reliable source of guidance and grounding.
As strong advocate for diversity and inclusion, Mickael works with various organisations and groups globally to bring his vision of diverse and inclusive workplaces to the fore. His chosen occupations have enabled him to work in different countries around the world, meeting new people, learning about new cultures and discovering new ways of life. His varied experiences in life have given him valuable insight into embracing change, how to take ownership and how to accept uncertainty with a sense of optimism.
As well as undertaking his responsibilities as Managing Director, Mickael also works as a Mentor and qualified Integral and INSEAD Executive Coach.
In his free time, he enjoys nothing more than spending quality time with his family.
Great leaders are known for their desire to make a significant difference. What drives you, what keeps you motivated and focused during tough times?
I am a firm believer in equality, diversity, and inclusion. Generally when people think of diversity they think of gender diversity but there is so much more to it than that. There is ethnicity, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, etc. It isn’t always something you can see or measure.
I strive to build diverse teams, not only in terms of the traditional forms of diversity but also in terms of diversity of thought, and I encourage my colleagues to keep their individual voices.
Nothing motivates me more and helps me focus than when I am surrounded by these teams, all working together, using their various strengths, bringing different viewpoints to the table, working toward the same goal. It is in these moments that I truly feel like I am making a difference and that anything is possible.
What ideas come most naturally to you?
As Managing Director, I feel my duty to my team goes far beyond simply making the big or tough decisions; I have a duty of care to nurture and support each individual. Luckily this is something that enjoy and it comes quite easily to me.
In the past I have undertaken numerous coaching courses and am a qualified INSEAD coach. What started as a fleeting interest became a huge part of how I work.
The fast pace of change in the corporate world means that people can find it difficult to keep up and with the skills I have honed through my coaching practice, I work to support those around me in a structured way to achieve their goals as well as to achieve long term excellence.
It is beautiful to see my colleagues grow and develop and is the most rewarding aspects of my job.
What brings you the most joy in life?
First and foremost, my family mean the world to me and everything I do is for them. My wife is a strong and passionate woman who challenges me, supports me, and I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without her.
In terms of what brings me the most joy from my career, I would have to say that it’s collaborative working. Nothing brings me more pleasure in the workplace than witnessing teams working together. Seeing the smooth flow of creative thinking bringing processes to life is when you know that you are on the right track.
How is your mind hard-wired to deliver a goal, from internal clarity to reality?
One of my experiences in management is around complex circumstances and how individuals and teams react to this. It is an important topic since the pace at which complexity pops up in our lives has significantly increased over the last few years.
The more complex a situation, the more I relish the challenge.
I do not work alone and I do not believe in working in silos. Just as no single individual has the answer, there is no one way of getting across the finish line.
Once a goal has been set, I find the right circle of people with diverse skillsets to surround myself with, and we work together to motivate and inspire each other all the way from the beginning of a project to its completion.
I thrive on the passion of others and I am learning from others every day. This has always been and always will be my mind-set; collaborative working is the only way forward.
What is one thing you will never tire of?
That would have to be working with people. As I previously mentioned, nurturing and supporting people is something I enjoy; even if it wasn’t a part of my current role, it is something that I firmly believe I will spend the rest of my life doing. Helping people to realise and reach their full potential is my addiction.
What are some of the top challenges you had to overcome, and what are the scars, if any, along the way?
I have been dealing with crises and re-organisations all throughout my career. So much so that it’s now become the norm.
Adverse situations are always going to be on the horizon and getting through them is all about how you approach them.
Viewing a challenge as simply that, a challenge, means that it can be overcome. A challenge is merely an obstacle. And what do we do with obstacles? We jump over them, push through them.
There is a lot to be said for going into a situation and embracing it. Acknowledge the emerging parameters from an early stage in order to shape a new and better understanding of the circumstances.
What is your best project so far?
I could answer this question with a high-brow corporate answer but in reality it’s my family. I refer to my family as a ‘project’ because marriage and parenthood are a continual work in progress. You will never stop learning something new, you will never cease to be surprised, and the rewards are endless. They motivate me. They drive me. They inspire me. All of the good I have in life is down them.
What are three top tips for executives who dream big?
This is a very simple question for me to answer!
Stay curious, listen and never assume!
Would you do what you do without being paid for it?
Coaching, mentoring, anything around the development of an individual.
As I said earlier, I have undertaken numerous coaching courses and money making is not yet central to my activities as a coach. I do it because I enjoy it. The impact in the behaviours of my coachees is a big reward. To observe them more peaceful, grounded and at ease with their circumstances or simply just being themselves is reward enough for me.
What is your wildest dream? What would you do if you had a magic wand?
If I had a magic wand I would cast a spell that would mean people would listen to each other and actually hear what’s being said; basically listening for the sake of listening and not for the purposes of answering.
If people could just come together and have their voices heard, the world would change instantly and anything would be possible.
You are known for your business mastery. How often do you travel in business? What is your family saying about being away from home?
As I work in a worldwide organisation, travelling is part and parcel of the job and my family understand and support this. I include my wife in every decision I make, be it professional or personal. We are a team. We are a multinational/multicultural family with global careers (my wife is a helicopter pilot) and so we compromise, find a happy medium, and make the best decisions for our family together.
Is anything happening right now that is exciting either in your organisation, career or personal life? Can we help you break the news?
I have recently signed up to be a part of the Aviation Industry Advisory Committee for the Year of Inclusion with the DCU (Dublin City University) Centre of Excellence. The purpose of the Committee is to build and grow knowledge and awareness of diversity and inclusion across the aviation industry, with an initial focus on building gender balance. This will be launched on October 9th 2019 and the Committee will be working to prepare events and initiatives for roll out in 2020.
As diversity and inclusion are so close to my heart, I am excited to be a part of this project and am very much looking forward to the year ahead!
How do you see your vision changing the future, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
My vision for more diverse and inclusive organisations is becoming more widespread. I am doing my small part by changing my little corner of the world in my current role but I am also reaching out to others to assist in making a bigger impact.
Countless groups and initiatives are being set up with this same goal in mind and it is wonderful to see that change is on the way. I work closely with the Professional Women’s Network, the 30% Club Ireland, and now with the DCU Centre of Excellence, all in a bid to make the necessary changes happen.
In 2002, I was training the first female search and rescue pilot for the Navy and a prominent magazine approached us as they wanted to write an article about her. I was asked what I thought of this lady’s achievement and all I could respond was “In the future I hope that there won’t be ‘female’ pilots, there will just be pilots.”
Milestones have been reached within every industry in terms of diversity but there is still much work to be done. Diversity is not a luxury; it is a necessity, an urgent necessity.
As Barack Obama once said “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
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