Industry Insights Speaker Series: John Allen Discusses the Changing Culture of Safety Management Systems

December 15, 2022 Industry News

The management department at Vaughn College welcomed John M. Allen, president of Allen Aviation and Safety Consultants, LLC and vice president of safety at JetBlue (Ret.) to its Industry Insights Speaker Series, sponsored by ATL Partners. Hosted by Dr. Maxine Lubner and Adjunct Professor Loretta Alkalay, Allen discussed the changing culture of safety management systems within the aviation industry and shed light on certain skills that students will need in order to be a successful aviation safety consultant. At this event, students learned the importance of safety and how the benefits of earning Vaughn’s Safety Management Systems Certificate can put them on the right path towards a futureproof career.

About John Allen

For more than 40 years, John Allen has set the pace for having made significant contributions in the areas of leadership and safety management systems, as well as setting industry standards for improving aviation safety at every level.

His impressive career began in the United States Air Force, where he served for 31 years in both active and reserve duty. During that time, he held several command positions that included vice wing commander, squadron commander and ultimately the rank of brigadier general. This was the position he held at the time of his retirement. Allen’s passion for aviation safety led him to the Federal Aviation Administration , where he held several high-ranking positions over his 22-year career. Prior to retiring from the agency in 2013, Allen served as the Director of Flight Standards Service (AFS-1). In this position, he led an organization of over 5,600 inspectors and aviation professionals to oversee global aircraft operations under U.S. authority or responsibility. Shifting his unparalleled expertise to the business side of the industry, Allen accepted the position of vice president of safety at JetBlue Airlines. For the next seven years, he led the way to growing and strengthening the effectiveness and practice of the airline’s safety program. Today, Allen is president of Allen Aviation and Safety Consultants, LLC, which specializes in aviation safety, safety management systems, quality management systems, Federal Aviation Administration and leadership consulting.

The ‘art of safety’

One would think that safety is on the minds of everyone when it comes to flying on an airplane. Allen stated otherwise. “It’s harder to implement safety than anything,” he said. “Management doesn’t understand the ‘art of safety’.” He explained how it takes money, discipline and research findings to convince management officials about the importance of safety. “Technology is changing so rapidly, security management systems need to be customized to the organization,” he said. “We need to work with the culture and train from the top-down—teaching from their perspective in a way they will understand. It’s all about showing the appeal that safety is about money, too—not just saving lives.” And when it comes to passenger perspective on safety, Allen said that only about 30 percent of the flying public are fearful flyers. Check out his book, “Airline Safety Is Not by Accident… (Well Maybe Sort Of, I’ll Explain), A Memoir.”

Life tips for student success

Allen offered life tips on what students should take away from the college experience. To succeed in life, he explained how his own time in college was to broaden his thinking to learn, innovate and communicate. Have you ever wondered if you’ll ever use some of the information you’re learning in the classroom? Allen said it wasn’t until he graduated decades ago that he figured it all out. Here are the three principles which he believes are not only important in school, but are also critical for overall success in life:

  • Learn to learn—and learn quickly: Professional success is all about keeping up with the competition. Learning faster than your peers will help you rise to the top.
  • Learn to think critically, innovate and expand on what you learn: It’s important to analyze what you learn, think critically about it and improve on it. The key lesson is that it is okay to fail. Develop a passion to improve upon what you learn.
  • Learn to communicate and help others learn from your ideas: Nurture your communication skills, both written and spoken. The best innovative ideas will have no value if you cannot communicate them effectively with others.

Effective leadership techniques

With over 40 years of leadership experience, Allen knows there’s more to be being an effective leader than just “managing.” Here are some of his top leadership techniques for success:

  • When you enter a room, light it up—don’t bring it down.
  • Treat everyone as you would want to be treated. Be humble, yet confident and committed.
  • Don’t fake leadership. Crewmembers can spot a fake a mile away.
  • Provide guidance and vision, and then stand back. Trust and verify. It’s important not to micromanage. Use any shortcomings as teaching moments.
  • Recognize individuals for a job well done.
  • When meeting anyone, always look them in the eye, smile and greet them by name—if possible.

Vaughn’s Aviation and Management Programs

Vaughn offers a range of bachelor’s, master’s, associate and certificate programs in aviationmanagement and aviation maintenance. As a leading institution in these industries, the College is setting the pace by providing its students with the skills they need to land jobs in these in-demand fields. Are you ready to pursue your futureproof career? Discover the possibilities of a lifelong position through one of our programs. Apply today!