In an interview with the APEX editor’s blog, Oman Air general manager inflight services Linda Celestino talks about assuming the role of APEX president (she replaces Delta Air Lines’ Chris Babb), emboldening members to participate more, and creating greater value for them.
What do you hope to accomplish during your tenure as president?
It’s an honour and a privilege to serve APEX and I couldn’t be more excited about the year ahead as APEX president. Some two-and-a-half years ago, APEX began to reinvent itself to meet the fast-changing needs of our segment of the airline industry, which is focused on the broad range of services critical to passengers’ experience. We’ve changed our association’s name and have built a strong foundation of products and services for a growing list of member companies and professionals.
Looking to the year ahead, I plan to work closely with the APEX board of directors to develop and refine the strategies that will make APEX even more relevant around the globe, and support our committees and our staff to execute plans in support of those strategies. That will mean listening carefully to our members and understanding their needs. It will mean enhancing current member programmes, investing more in new services to help members stay informed and connected, and ultimately help members succeed.
I am also committed to APEX continuing the recent initiatives of bringing world-class education and networking opportunities to members in all regions worldwide.
And lastly, I hope to recruit more of our industry colleagues into our association and into leadership and committee positions with APEX. Our niche of the industry is large and diverse, and increasingly critical to airline travel. For APEX to best serve the industry, we will require strong and active participation from many more leaders among our membership ranks.
I’ve been involved with APEX for several years, yet have only recently attended more of the APEX events. For example, I attended my first Technical Committee meeting in May and was amazed by the volume of critical information and dialogue at those sessions. I’ll work hard to not miss another one. So in terms of recommendations to airlines and service providers who might be interested in APEX, I’d strongly suggest they invest the time to attend just one of our events. I think the value of APEX will be quickly evident when they see first-hand the knowledge and passion of our community, and they’ll be hooked.
How do you envisage the APEX association growing and evolving?
So many professionals in our industry impact the passenger experience, and all of us need to be mutually aware of how our work integrates to drive innovation and create superior customer services. APEX must be a key facilitator of that integration. And so I see APEX continuing to generate and distribute educational content and deliver opportunities that will attract all companies and professionals who touch the passenger experience – both on the ground and in flight.
Do you have any recommendations for airlines or vendors that want to get involved in APEX? I recommend that non-members read this magazine, our APEXnews Daily SmartBrief and our weekly APEX NewsDigest to stay abreast of current issues impacting the airline passenger experience industry.
Additionally, non-members will learn a lot by visiting our website, apex.aero, and joining us at an APEX event such as a regional educational event. And of course, we’d love to welcome more people to the annual APEX EXPO, which is held exclusively for APEX members. For current members looking to become more involved, please feel free to contact me, a staff member or another member of the board. APEX will benefit from your active participation as a committee member, committee chair or even on the board. And I promise you’ll learn more from the experience than you could ever imagine.
APEX has long discussed ways to better advocate for members on matters of legislation, for instance. How might APEX improve in this regard?
Being a truly effective industry advocate on public policy matters requires clear industry consensus and objectives on key issues, and an uncompromising commitment of time and resources to achieve those objectives. That can be a challenge for a diverse global association, which may be one reason why APEX has been largely content to let other, perhaps better equipped, industry organisations lead these efforts in the past.
Having said that, I believe APEX must stay tuned in to the issues and be prepared to advocate for our members when necessary, whether that involves direct unilateral action on APEX’s part or in support and collaboration with allied industry organisations.
What type of association would you like APEX to be in five or ten years?
The type of association where, if you are a professional or a company impacting the airline passenger experience, membership in APEX will not be an option. Rather, it will be a “must- have”. It will be a must-have in order to stay on top of trends; and to be aware of new innovations being introduced and in those in the pipeline. APEX, through our various platforms, will be the primary source for original content about our industry, and for breaking news impacting our industry. It will be the only source for technical knowledge necessary for anyone in the industry to succeed. APEX will both lead and facilitate critical thinking and discussions. It will provide a critical marketplace for our members to do business. And it will provide a common ground and connectivity that will help sustain and inspire us to greater things.
(Editor’s note: Linda Celestino was also recently interviewed by The PME Interview about Oman Air’s latest improvements to the passenger experience. You can see the video here. A screen grab of Linda from The PME Interview was used for the main photo of this blog.)