A Message from

2018 Board of Directors Chair, Mary Ellen Eagan, HMMH

Sustainability: Making our Future the Cause of the Present

November 7, 2018

It should come as a surprise to no one who knows me that the focus of my term as ACC Board Chair will be sustainability. Oh sure, over the next year I’ll be talking about green conferences, and sustainable aviation fuel. Probably even complaining about how wasteful golf is. But most of my focus will be on those “other” aspects of sustainability. One simple definition of sustainability is “Making our future the cause of the present”. And so it’s ACC’s future that I’d like to focus on during my one year in the present.

First, as you know, 2018 will mark ACC’s 40th anniversary. Plans are already underway to make our Annual Conference in Bermuda a smashing success. We intend to celebrate our accomplishments over the last 40 years, by looking back at some key milestones in our history, and reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned from them. We hope all of you can join us there! Another Board priority for 2018 will be to review and refresh our strategic plan, which was last updated in 2009. Our focus will be on developing a strategic action plan to guide our priorities over the next couple of years. 

Second, in my day job as President of HMMH, I am focused on our firm’s financial performance. Research shows that firms and industries that track financial performance do better – as Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets improved”. As the only organization focused on the business of developing airports, ACC offers a unique value proposition to our firms to provide insight on how to do that well. As a first step, the Board has discussed salary benchmarking – those of you who are involved in hiring or any kind of personnel management have probably struggled with compensation decisions. We hear that our industry commands a premium over other industries – even for similar job descriptions in the same large firms – but we don’t have data to justify to our hiring managers. We’re hoping to collaborate with other industry experts to develop a salary survey unique to our industry. 

Finally, the future. And making our future the cause of the present. In addition to being the ‘go-to’ organization for airport development, over the last few years ACC has become an industry leader in advancing Young Professionals. ACC leadership has given the YP Forum a little encouragement and a lot of runway, and then stood back and marveled at what the YPs have accomplished in a very short period of time (this, btw, was NOT one of the ACC strategic goals from 2009 – and one of the reasons I want to refresh our plan). 

Another area that is ripe for investing in our future is increasing the diversity of our membership – not just by reaching out to different kinds of firms, but reaching deeper in those firms to include more people of color and women. You see, I’ve done a little research. Of the top 30 airports in the US, 27% are run by women, and 30% by people of color. A recent study by LeanIn and the McKinsey Foundation found that in the Transport, Travel, Logistics and Infrastructure Industry, 19% of C-suite positions were held by women[1]. Let’s compare that to our ACC membership: of the top 69 firms (those in the top membership tier), only 10% are run by women, and 10% by people of color. The ACC Board is doing much better, with 23% women and 23% people of color. We need to do better than this – not only in bringing more diversity into our pipeline, but providing leadership opportunities.

Bringing this all back to sustainability, many of today’s most passionate advocates for sustainability are not interested in adopting sustainable practices because of their environmental benefit, or even because “it’s the right thing to do”; they are motivated primarily by the economic impact to their organizations. And I submit that as an organization, ACC should be doing what it can to help our member firms look more like the industry they serve and the communities in which they practice. 

I look forward to an exciting year ahead, and promise to do my very best to advance the mission of this fine organization.

[1] https://womenintheworkplace.com/