Aviation Planner Gareth Hanley’s connection to planes goes back to his infancy, when Gareth’s father took his newborn son all over the Caribbean in a seaplane to meet his extended family.
After Gareth’s family moved to Florida from his birthplace of St. Kitts when he was 5 years old, his fascination with aviation only strengthened. A family trip to Tampa’s MacDill Air Show cemented Gareth’s love of planes.
“Some of the earliest memories I have are of being in love with aviation, and throughout my life, it was always, ‘How can I work in aviation?’” said Gareth.
Ambitious Mindset & Professional Poise
Gareth started at RS&H 6 years ago, after graduating from the University of Florida with his master’s degree in urban planning. Gareth first caught the attention of RS&H Board of Directors member Ron Ratliff while he was still a student.
Ron was a professor at the university and met Gareth when he began working on his master’s thesis.
“He had elected to do a thesis on airport planning, and his professor came to me and asked for my technical input,” said Ron. “Gareth picked a relatively difficult topic that most students would not be able to handle, and he didn’t have many other resources at the university to help him with the project.”
But Gareth did an excellent job, said Ron, and he also showed a high level of professionalism as he dealt with the thesis review process and his oral defense.
“I told several people in the Aviation Practice that Gareth was going to be a star in aviation planning,” said Ron.
After several interviews, Gareth accepted a job in the Los Angeles office, moving there soon after graduation.
A Move & Growth
Aviation Planning Consultant Delia Chi and Gareth started in the L.A. office at around the same time. However, Delia and Gareth spent much of their first few months assisting on an aviation project in Anchorage, Alaska.
Gareth impressed from the very beginning.
“I flew up to Anchorage to work with him early on, and the way he handled himself, I could not believe he was essentially an entry-level associate,” said Gareth’s current supervisor Ken Ibold.
“Not only is he smart and driven, but he also has the soft skills you can’t really teach,” said Delia.
Working in the L.A. office provided Gareth with an ability to work on a wide array of projects that built his technical skills and furthered his growth as a planner.
Communication & Perspectives
Leadership and Development Manager Victoria Cochran is amazed at Gareth’s communications skills, echoing sentiments from other colleagues. Victoria works with Gareth on a mentorship program for new aviation associates.
“There was one meeting in particular that stands out,” said Victoria. “We were all coming to the table with different ideas, which is good and healthy and diverse. And he was able to, through his facilitation skills, get everyone on the same page.”
Victoria was so impressed with Gareth, that she called him afterwards.
“I told him, ‘Wow, you are my new communications guru. Thank you so much for what you just taught me,’” said Victoria.
Gareth’s ability to find common ground between multiple perspectives is rooted in his childhood.
“I grew up in a household in the Caribbean that had one culture and attended a school that had another,” said Gareth. “I think that helped me understand multiple perspectives now that I am older.”
Technical Savvy & Humble Outlook
Now in the Tampa office, Gareth has become the go-to associate when it comes to CAST modeling, a predictive software helpful for planning.
The tool interests Gareth not just for its technical abilities, but also for the human considerations the program takes into account.
Gareth has a bachelor’s degree in geography and has always been interested in the relationship between people and their environments.
“The software allows us to model how people interact in something like an airport terminal. That gets back to the ideas that made me first fall in love with planning – learning how people interact with their environment,” said Gareth.
Gareth is not only passionate about his work, but he is also the kind of person who puts all of his energy into projects, said aviation associate and friend Serafina Schwerer.
“He’s an overachiever. He’ll work late and work on the weekends to get a project done, but you wouldn’t know it because he never complains or brags about it,” said Serafina. “I really look up to him and admire his work ethic.”
Praise & Skill
Gareth remains modest, despite the amount of praise he has received from his fellow associates.
“Because of the number of other associates who I see as really deserving of the spotlight, I almost feel like I’m undeserving of the recognition,” said Gareth.
Colleagues used a lot of words to describe Gareth. “Undeserving” was most assuredly not one of them.
In fact, Ron says, in his 40 years at RS&H, “I don’t think I have worked with an associate who has so quickly become as technically and professionally talented as Gareth.”
About the author
- In her role as a communications professional, Eliza gets to tell the stories of RS&H associates and the amazing work they do for clients, colleagues and their communities.
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