Denny Clifford joined SkyLink Aviation earlier this year as chief financial officer to manage the company’s financial affairs and participate in the strategic review process.
Clifford holds more than 20 years of financial management and military experience in his role at the global aviation and logistics services company.
“Denny brings a wealth of experience from the airlines as well as a keen insight in international finance and contracting,” said David Dacquino, CEO of SkyLink.
ExecutiveBiz recently caught up with Clifford to discuss his transition to SkyLink from the commercial aviation sector and the company’s push to create a more global footprint.
ExecutiveBiz: Why the change from the airline industry to a niche market company like SkyLink?
Denny Clifford: While I enjoyed my time at Delta Airlines and working for a major corporation with 80,000 employees, the challenges and excitement of SkyLink – which also has a global reach and footprint and largely related to aviation — were too much to resist. SkyLink has been around for 25 years and operates in 75 countries with a variety of aircraft – both fixed wing and rotary aircraft — in very harsh and hostile environments. That is a very different mission profile than that of a scheduled airline.
ExecutiveBiz: What do you find to be the biggest challenge at SkyLink as CFO?
Denny Clifford: As a global company, it is critical to master all international and local laws, rules and regulations as an air operator. At any given time, we have active operations in a multitude of countries and deploy people worldwide. We also have a very diverse workforce — I believe we speak 30 languages throughout our 4 permanent offices and in many other field locations. My job is in the common language of numbers that everyone speaks, but at times it can be difficult.
ExecutiveBiz: Any surprises or unexpected observations since you joined SkyLink?
Denny Clifford: Incredibly, it is a much faster pace than I expected and the challenges are very diverse. We switch gears dozens of times a day to address a wide-range of issues under tight deadlines. When working for a smaller company you start and end your day wearing many different hats. You never know what part of the world you are going to be resolving problems.
Each morning our day starts with the headlines in the news of all major networks and publications to see where the world hot spots are. We then match our capabilities with the needs of that area and get to work. That is our key focus and where we direct our energy for the day. SkyLink does the toughest jobs during the toughest times right up to the last mile. We help people and customers in critical and sometimes life-saving situations and don’t stop until the job is done.
ExecutiveBiz: What areas has SkyLink focused on within the past year?
Denny Clifford: This past year has been an exciting year for SkyLink. We have committed to holding our ground in Afghanistan and help the remaining U.S. and international government agencies and personnel finish their mission. SkyLink has partnered with two AOCs (Airline Operating Certificates) – a charter airline and FBO (Fixed Base Operation) in Melbourne, Florida, and a cargo operation in Karachi, Pakistan.
We have also become an active vendor with the United Nations, where we look forward to bringing our services and expertise back into Africa and elsewhere in the world
ExecutiveBiz: How do the company’s offices around the world collaborate with each other?
Denny Clifford: SkyLink has 4 major offices across the world — Toronto, Washington, Dubai and Kandahar. With global operations taking place around the clock, constant and rapid communication and collaboration are imperative. Our business development team is a tightly knit, aggressive group, which ensures that no opportunity is overlooked.
Each office is fully staffed and given the proper support they need to carry out the mission of each operation and mission in theater. SkyLink’s 24/7 operations team tracks each and every move of a given operation, and relays all necessary information and analytics back to the respective office.
ExecutiveBiz: What do you see for the future of SkyLink?
Denny Clifford: We’ve had several new and exciting start-ups and acquisitions and we are moving to fixed based operations in Africa and Pakistan, as well as a partnership in Florida. SkyLink moves at lightning speed 24/7/365. Each day I wake up not knowing where the future will take me. I do know it will be an exciting, action-packed and unpredictable day. And that’s how I like it.
That is why I am absolutely delighted to be a part of such a great team of people, doing the work that many are not willing or unable to do, for the people who need it most around the globe.