Rima Saleh, EVP of BD, on SkyLink Aviation’s International & Commercial Opportunities, ‘One-Stop Shop’ Model and Efforts to Help Stabilize Afghanistan

Rima Salehat_skylinkRima Saleh has worked with SkyLink Aviation for six years and recently elevated to the aviation and logistics services provider’s senior leadership team as executive vice president of business development.

In that role, the 25-year aviation industry veteran leads SkyLink’s BD efforts and helps craft strategy to grow SkyLink’s footprint and customer set.

Saleh caught up with us to provide insight into the firm’s approach to international clients, its “one-stop shop” model from infrastructure to ‘last-mile’ services, and efforts to enhance its foothold in certain industries.

 

skylink

ExecutiveBiz: What is SkyLink’s range of customers?

Rima Saleh: SkyLink has an incredibly wide and diverse client base. We provide services to governments and non-government organizations, military and civil projects.

Our services range from a single flight moving aid into a distressed area to multiple aircraft supporting international operations year round.

 

ExecutiveBiz: What are the services that SkyLink provides to support that range of customers?

Rima Saleh: I describe SkyLink as a one-stop shop. Our customers come to us for airlift and we often end up providing full spectrum support. From Aviation to IT, camp construction and life support.

For example, when we go into a remote area where a client requires air lift, we often expand our scope to provide a self-contained solution for our clients.

We bring the expertise necessary to construct and operate our own office, living and support facilities. Instead of being a possible burden on a project, we add value by also offering these services to our host or client.

SkyLink comes to assist and stay to the end. We entered the Sudan to support the African Union and stayed through the transition. We are in Afghanistan and fully intend to stay beyond 2014 supporting national and internal growth.

Click here to read about SkyLink’s recent joint venture with the first Afghan airline to be compliant with the country’s Civil Aviation  Authority.

 

Rima Salehat desk_skylinkExecutiveBiz: How do you identify new customers and opportunities, particularly internationally where the majority of your work is?

Rima Saleh: Today our primary focus is on government and conflict related support. It has been the history of our company to support humanitarian efforts throughout the world.

For the past 25 years we have supported efforts of the United Nations, African Union, USAID, NATO and others.

We stay connected to these organizations to ensure we can supply viable solutions on short notice.

 

rsz_rima_saleh_-_in_front_of_aircraftExecutiveBiz: How do you tailor your approach according to the culture and the way potential clients do business throughout the world?

Rima Saleh: This is one of our largest challenges. Fortunately, SkyLink is a very diverse company. We have team members from many countries and regions speaking several languages.

To ensure our approach and response is culturally correct, we first look within our organization and consult our team members who are either from the region or are familiar with the region for guidance.

We study our clients’ needs and requirements and design our solutions to meet these requirements with a culturally correct solution.

Click here to read a Q&A with CEO David Dacquino about SkyLink’s work to help stabilize Afghanistan and its operations in remote areas of other international locations.

 

skylink-groupExecutiveBiz:  How is SkyLink different than others in the market place?

Rima Saleh: SkyLink is not like a structured Airline. Our client base as well as our segment of the market place demands we be different. We must have the flexibility to mold our structure to the requirements of the day.

For example, we may develop a strategy to move heavy lift such as armored vehicle from Afghanistan for the Canadian DND on Monday and search for helicopter lift or ground handling solutions on Thursday.

Our structure has to be flexible enough to meet these challenges. Fortunately, we have the structure which allows us to make these adjustments on short notice.

The variety of services we provide allows us to provide solutions for our clients which span from first response to the last mile. We can enter an area or region and provide emergency relief on very short notice.

We can then develop our response into a long term sustainable solution capable of meeting our clients short and long tern requirements, the” Last Mile”.

 

rsz_1rima_saleh_-_in_command_stationExecutiveBiz: How else will SkyLink continue to evolve to drive growth and overcome current and future market pressures?

Rima Saleh: In the six years I have been with SkyLink, one of the things that have impressed me the most is our ability to adapt to the market place.

Our recent restructure is a good example. Our senior leadership is now empowered our team to embrace the market place and extract new opportunities. Team members at the lowest level are encouraged to bring new ideas and opportunities to senior leadership.

We realize the market place is changing. SkyLink will change with it. We are looking to move into aviation support for oil and gas, mining and construction concentrating on isolated and austere regions of the world.

We are evolving our mission and updating our training programs to cater to these new markets and locations.

 

skylink cockpitExecutiveBiz:  What attracted you to SkyLink?

It is a fast pace environment with a unique business modal and an impressive record of success with very demanding customers in some of the most difficult areas in the world

In addition, given my background, I was amazed by the great ethnic diversity and our ability to reach and assimilate into any culture.

 

ExecutiveBiz: What  is your background and how does it relate to SkyLink?

I was born in Beirut, Lebanon and grew up in a war zone where religious fervor drove irrational behavior and frequent violence.

As a child, not knowing the difference, it was a normal way of life. It made me understand and appreciate the difficulties of the environments SkyLink sometimes operates in.

 

ExecutiveBiz: Sounds like you are an incredibly busy lady, I understand that you are multilingual, is that right?  What are your other interests?

I am quite busy, but I love it!! I enjoy the opportunities when I can actually utilize my languages, in most of the world where English, French, Spanish and Arabic can open a door to communication. I am very artistic; I paint and play the piano.

 

skylinkExecutiveBiz. And I understand that you have a new role in SkyLink?

Yes, I am very excited about my new role heading business development and being on the senior leadership team.

The new direction of the company allows me to tap into my passion for international aviation while playing a significant role in developing the strategy that will take SkyLink to the next level.

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