Once the COVID-19 crisis is behind us, the biggest challenge facing airlines is environmental stewardship. There is as yet no single medium-term scalable carbon-neutral technology on the drawing board that will allow aviation to mitigate its impact on global warming. It will require multiple initiatives and ideas to manage the transition.
Evert, who is responsible for airline, airport, and aerospace clients in Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific, knew from an early age that working in aviation was a dream job for him. “I have always wanted to pursue a career in aviation. After high school, I studied aerospace engineering, graduating with a Master’s in computational fluid dynamics,” he says.
Rather than pursuing an engineering career, however, Evert pivoted toward the business side of the industry, earning a Ph.D. in operations research in the US, which paved the way for a career in aviation consultancy, based in San Francisco. In 2011 he moved on to Sydney where he took on an airline executive role for a major international carrier, responsible for Network and Strategy. His work now involves helping aviation clients keep up with the relentless competitive cycles that define the industry. “The pressure to become more efficient and continuously drive commercial and operating innovation in order to keep fares low for customers means there is always plenty to do,” says Evert.
A key moment in his career came after 9/11 when he found himself seated next to a very senior Boeing executive on a flight to Washington. “The airlines industry was grappling with technologies and processes to mitigate the impact of the added security measures, and Boeing was keen to see these implemented at airports worldwide in a way as to not to stifle growth,” he says. “I showed him a simulation model I was working on and how it allowed for optimized security screening and passenger flow process improvement. My company got hired to advise Boeing and the US Transportation Security Agency for a multi-year program. Many of the processes we developed are still in use at US airports today.”
Besides work, he’s a keen yachtsman and sailor. “Currently work and family life limits the time that I can devote to the sport, but hopefully one day I can tackle the major international yacht races again,” he says. “I also used to play the violin at quite a decent level and still try to keep the basics going, just for fun and my own enjoyment – but also to be able to keep up as my daughter progresses with her musical studies.”
As someone who’s built a track record of coming up with out-of-the box ideas and getting them successfully implemented, he advises young people entering the sector to do the same. “Try to bring different/new angles and disciplines to the industry. Airlines have to evolve, both in terms of the business models, global collaboration models, and technology, especially in terms of the industry’s environmental impact.”