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OTHER ARTICLES Last modified on August 28, 2017

Is small beautiful?

Terri Morrissey and Dr Richard Plenty reflect on the pros and cons of working in small organisations.

Ambitious young people often ask us whether it’s better to work for a small organisation or to join a larger one. “Which would give me the best opportunities?” is probably the most asked question, quickly followed by “Which would give me the better prospects for growth and help develop my future career?”

As with most teasers, the answer is, ‘it depends’. Not very satisfactory for someone wanting a definitive answer, but there are advantages and disadvantages associated with either option.

Large organisations, simply by being large, can offer many advantages. They are likely to offer more structured jobs and career development. You can switch roles to gain more experience in a variety of work areas without having to leave the organisation.

The downside is that the jobs you are given may be very specialised. And change can be so slow. For those with ambition, it can be frustrating and difficult to leave a mark or legacy when you feel you are being treated like a ‘number’ and people don’t have the time to listen to you.

By contrast, smaller organisations provide the opportunity to make an immediate impact as one’s success is easily visible. Small organisations are more agile and flexible; they require people to take more ownership and real accountability.

Sometimes people find they can be asked to take on an enormous breadth of responsibilities with potential for personal growth that they simply wouldn’t have in a larger company. Longer term though, opportunities for promotion and development can be scarce and pay and benefits packages may be worse. And, of course, while success is more clearly visible, so is failure!

The ideal solution, of course, is to get the best of both worlds and gain experience in each type of organisation. This is becoming more of a realistic option in the airport sector as larger airport groups take over independent airports providing wider development opportunities.

And technology means small organisations are increasingly ‘connected’ to the outside world and open to learning. At ACI Europe’s recent Regional Airports Conference and Exhibition (RACE) in Cork, we chaired a session on people engagement, and were struck by the standard of work being done by small airports such as Bristol in the UK.

When it comes to ‘large or small’, consider all the factors, including your life style and values before making your decision. A wise choice can pay off. Niall McCarthy took the opportunity to move from Dublin Airport to gain experience. He is now the managing director of Cork Airport, the winner of ACI Europe’s Small Airports Award for 2017.

And as we are sure Niall himself would agree, not only does he have a challenging and rewarding role, but also he and his family now live in an attractive part of the Irish country. Small can indeed be beautiful! 


Arrivals and departures

Robert Sinclair is to succeed Declan Collier as the CEO of London City Airport. Sinclair is currently the CEO of Bristol Airport but has decided to leave the position he has held since 2008 for the challenge of running London City Airport (LCY). He is expected to take up the role at the gateway on October 30.

Fernando Echegaray is the new director of international operations for Groupe ADP. Spanish born Echegaray, who joins from AENA, will manage and develop Groupe ADP’s network of 23 airports in France and around the world, reporting directly to executive director in charge of international affairs for Groupe ADP, Antonin Beurrier.

Birmingham Airport in the UK is looking for a new chief executive after Paul Kehoe’s decision to step down from the top job on July 12. Kehoe, a familiar face at aviation industry events across the globe, feels that it is time for “the next generation to take the business forward” after nine years at the helm.

Leeds Bradford Airport has appointed former airport fireman, David Laws, as its new chief executive. He succeeds John Parkin who is retiring, having substantially developed the UK airport during the last 10 years. “My passion is for airport development and ensuring that the customer journey is a truly great experience,” says Laws.

Kevin Toland is to step down as chief executive of Irish airport operator, daa, later this year to take over the hot seat at the publicly quoted food group, ARYZTA AG. Toland, who became daa chief executive in January 2013, will join ARYZTA following a six-month notice period, or earlier, if agreed.


About the authors

Terri Morrissey is Chairperson of This Is… and CEO of the Psychological Society of Ireland. Dr Richard Plenty is managing director of This Is…and delivers ‘Airport Human Resources Training’ for ACI. Contact them through

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