Jay Dilley

Forty under 40 Winner 2015: President, Hawkair, Age 36

Jay Dilley says he “fell into” the aviation business after doing management consulting for several different businesses.

“I went up north and was chatting with an executive at one of the airlines, and he said, ‘We can talk about all of the problems. I know I need someone to fix problems,’” he said. “That got me excited because I was so used to giving people solutions but not seeing the execution.”

Dilley moved from Edmonton to Yellowknife to work for northern airline Arctic Sunwest. His first job was airline charters manager, but he quickly moved up to be director of business operations, then moved to Terrace to join Hawkair.

“We’re trying to build on the culture that we have and look at how do we become a trendsetter in the industry,” Dilley said of his goals for the company.

One of the ways Hawkair is breaking new ground is by targeting a big problem: the low numbers of female pilots, executives and maintenance personnel in the male-dominated airline industry. Fewer than 5% of airline executives are women, only 4% of pilots are women and fewer than 7% work in maintenance.

“Generally when I go to an industry event, there are men and then there are grey-haired men,” he said.

Employees in Hawkair’s Women in Leadership program try out different jobs and are paired with mentors outside of the company. The company also works with employees to fill any gaps in education or training.

Dilley’s goal is for his successor to be an employee from Hawkair’s Women in Leadership program.

“Growing up, I’ve got two younger sisters,” he said. “I’ve got my mom who worked, my grandma who worked and my dad a very strong influence. I grew up and just thought everyone was equal.

“I have a young daughter now, and I don’t believe that there is a difference or that there should be a difference.”

Join us to celebrate the 2015 Forty under under 40 Awards January 27, 2016 at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. For tickets and event info visit www.biv.com/events/40under40.