“We have put together a good strategy for the company, and the challenge is to execute this strategy while also still adapting to constant change around us. Technology brings a lot of opportunities to the business and is very dynamic. It challenges us to become more agile in our adoption of new technology,” Felten notes.That adaptation will, of course, require fresh insights and new ways of thinking, and Felten offers some advice for anyone considering joining the aviation industry: “Go with your strengths and passion. Make sure you enjoy and are interested in what you are studying! You will learn your life long and there are not many people who spend their whole life in the same area they studied.”Crucially, Felten says, “the aviation industry offers very different job opportunities from technical, financial, commercial to operational roles. So there are a lot of ways to get in to aviation. Don’t let anybody tell you can’t do it — maybe not yet, but don’t shy away from a challenge. It will be a learning experience. And if you fail, that is not a bad thing: the best lessons come from failure.”And now, she notes, “I work with interesting and great people on complex problems or opportunities. Every day is different at an airport and I love the diversity in the job!”Brisbane is one of Australia’s most important airports. Image: Brisbane AirportRelated Articles:Dulles team reminds women that airport management is a career optionPittsburgh International Airport’s recovery fueled by girl powerDublin Airport’s Valerie Price on driving change and innovationPursuing Leadership: Delta SVP Allison Ausband’s advice to womenOp-Ed: A woman’s place is in the flight deck and the C-SuiteAirport concessions overseer Juanita Britton began career as busy beeFrom Sydney to Doha, Fordyce-Wheeler helps airport design take offWendy Francette-Williams’ mission: transform Caribbean aviationDelhi airport’s Kiran Jain on being proud to be an Alpha Woman Felten’s career at Schiphol prepared her well for this sort of strategic management challenge, with a wide variety of roles, largely technical, from maintenance to information technology to project management and sustainability. “In my last role I was responsible for asset management at Schiphol: the development and maintenance of all the infrastructure, terminals, runways, roads, utilities, et cetera,” Felten tells Runway Girl Network.“I always had a wish to work more internationally so when I got the opportunity to go on a secondment to Brisbane Airport for three to five years I jumped at the opportunity and moved with my family to Australia half a year ago.”The scale of the expansion is itself challenging. Image: Brisbane AirportFelten spent the first seven years of her career in the steel industry, which she describes as “a very technical, rough and male dominated environment, where I discovered that being different — female, without a technical background — actually enabled me to add a lot of value to the organization. I could bring things that were very scarce in that organization and that gave me lots of opportunities and learning experiences. It was very challenging at times, but it’s been one of the best and most impactful experiences in my career.”That career started with a Business Administration degree in university, which suited the market at the time, and Felten highlights what many students and people considering careers in aviation know: the industry and its people needs are changing rapidly.“Like many, I think I was always attracted by the dynamics of aviation. Connecting people, enabling people to travel, airports as the places that bring the people and the planes together — but also interesting in the sense of its complexity, technology and diversity of work,” Felten says, highlighting that her key to success has been “a good mix of hard work, always eager to learn and not afraid to take on a challenge, combined with some luck, would probably sum it up. I’ve been fortunate with the opportunities I’ve had.The new runway is a crucial step to expansion for the airport. Image: Brisbane AirportIn Brisbane, Felten arrives in the office around 8am, and spends most of her day discussing the issues at hand with the airport team, airlines, government agencies, universities, and startups. With responsibility for innovation and the digital space, she’s always on the lookout for new technologies that can improve passenger experience and the airport’s operations, and she gets into the terminals and airside operations to get a feel for how it’s all going. When Floor Felten, executive general manager for strategy, planning and technology at Brisbane Airport, arrived in Australia after sixteen years working at Amsterdam Schiphol, the challenges facing her weren’t just adjusting to the work and social culture in a country on the other side of the planet from her native Netherlands.In Brisbane, she drives the strategy for one of Australia’s principal airports (and the largest by size, some 2700 hectares), planning capacity, business development, the digital world and overall technology implementations. It’s no mean feat with a new airport master plan due next year covering the next twenty, and a new runway for the airport due to be completed within the next year.
“The idea is to bring companies together, no longer be closed, but make use of our expertise, expertise in the industry, and bringing the right people together to solve a certain problem or to help in the new stuff,” Gaense says. “We no longer insist on it has to be the BoardConnect IFE front end, we’re actually okay to help a partner bring their IT solution on board. And I think that’s where we can add a good value, having the legacy of 25-year-old IT company that has an awesome amount of experience in airline IT.”LHS’ range of partner companies is expanding beyond the Lufthansa Group. Image: Lufthansa SystemsA system that just provides streaming entertainment can’t play the digitization hub role that Lufthansa System foresees. It is notable, though, that the company developed a new generation of the BoardConnect Portable box as recently as at the APEX Expo in September last year, focusing on its inflight entertainment abilities.Inasmuch as the ‘package in a box’ solution might survive, therefore, “airlines are looking for a turnkey to design, they’ll look for a turnkey solution that gives them the space in the cabin or look for something that they can plug in, integrate with their entire travel chain to make it a seamless experience,” Gaense highlights.Enabling customer payments securely is part of the picture. Image: Lufthansa SystemsThat travel chain is already well under development, with numerous airline groups and even smaller independent airlines — as well as other players in the passenger experience world all the way up to OEMs — operating their own technology incubators. “Who are we to think we can do better than them?” Gaense asks. “Obviously, they’ve decided this is important to them. This is key knowledge they want to have. Let’s not fight them, but let’s help them to enable what they want to achieve.”Lufthansa Systems sees itself as an open platform for airlines and their partners. Image: Lufthansa SystemsRelated Articles:Lufthansa Systems makes the case for better flight management with IFCLufthansa Systems touts smart caching in advance of EAN launchLufthansa rethinking IFEC experience with an eye on future-proofingRiM/MiM consolidate commerce platform amid Lufthansa consolidationSafer, powered, Iridium NEXT-connected BoardConnect Portable unveiledLufthansa to use latest UTAS AID for much more than integrating EFBsLufthansa Systems talks current and future connectivity, integrationPress Release: LS includes partners in expanded BoardConnect portfolio Lufthansa Systems is pivoting away from focusing on its BoardConnect onboard streaming IFE product, and is repositioning itself as an IT systems provider, while offering its onboard platform as an option for the centre of digitalization onboard the aircraft. “We’re into IT” is the new slogan, and the move is no less than a “transformation”, Lufthansa Systems’ head of passenger experience products & solutions Jan-Peter Gaense told Runway Girl Network at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.In terms of products, Gaense says, “I do believe in wireless IFE only. It’s just not going to be a market in five to six years anymore — or a sustainable market. There’ll always be a market but you need to differentiate and come up with cooler things and other solutions that give you bigger volumes, bigger markets.”The reality in this medium term is that the vast majority of jet aircraft will be equipped with either seatback inflight entertainment, streaming-capable inflight connectivity, or both.The “buy a box and pop it in the overhead for streaming” option, as far as Lufthansa Systems goes, is not the future, though it continues to offer a next-gen version of its BoardConnect Portable hardware (a white-labeled Kontron box developed in collaboration with LS).In the future, says Gaense in reference to wireless IFE, “I think we have to move away from that because what happens in the cabin is no longer isolated from what happens outside the cabin. Airlines and partners look for a solution that integrates with their travel chain. Look at how cool apps have got on baggage tracing. When I check in now, drop off my bag, I get a message: ‘Your bag has been accepted.’ That’s pretty cool stuff but once I get on board of an aircraft? All the digital cool gimmicks on the ground, they seem to have forgotten about me.”Moving beyond wireless IFE is crucial to the future, the company thinks. Image: Lufthansa SystemsTo that end, Lufthansa Systems is now focusing on enabling its partners to deliver that sort of digitized passenger experience via the framework it calls BoardConnect Dock, highlighting its work with Mahata at Citilink and Garuda Indonesia, plus Epteca at Air Europa, on the airline integration side. It also lists a wide range of partners including WhileFly, repay.me, Touch, Lasker, IMM, PXCOM, IMD, optile, INADVIA, RIM and Lufthansa Technik.