Kelvin Dzwete

Kelvin Dzwete

MSc Tech (Aviation) - 2015 Graduate
Operations Manager — Aero Adapt

What appealed to you about UNSW and your degree?

I had the opportunity to go to an airport excursion with my school when I was still in Primary. While at the airport, I was fascinated by how the whole process was choreographed i.e. people and machines. This led me down a path of research and fact finding. The more I dug, the more enamoured with the aviation industry I got. There was a time I was into cycling and during this time, I was watching a cycling event that rode past UNSW. This got me on yet another research and fact-finding mission to learn more about the school, and the story goes.

Toward the end of my penultimate high school year, I attended a few Open Days and on the list was UNSW. Not only was the campus beautiful but my earlier research had yielded that UNSW was (is) world class education provider.  I initially intended to apply for a different science degree however as I was in the queue, I noticed there was also a booth for the School of Aviation tucked away in the corner. This brought memories from younger years when I had been fascinated by the industry and so I went and spoke with the people there. By the end of the conversation mind was made, and I had an application form in hand.

As I moved into my master’s program, I appreciated the flexibility of the program and the variety of subjects offered. Working in the industry, I find the alumnus status of UNSW Aviation invaluable as it makes the initial connection so much easier and you know the level of understanding they have of aviation.

 

What is the most valuable thing you took away from your time at UNSW?

It was the foundations, the 'know-how' and the aviation language which has been invaluable to me in my career. Sometimes I work with people who do not have any aviation background, and they often find it difficult to balance their specified field within aviation. Having the ability to mix and make sense of general business aspects in an aviation context makes working in the industry BETTER.

My master’s thesis was surrounding the out-sourcing of skills from large aviation companies. This is directly tied to my role and what I was achieving at the time. It was interesting to see the 'big company' perspective throughout the course and compare it to the other side of the industry, the subcontracting work. Completing the paper from my context, being the person who is subcontracting to the airlines, justifying to these companies why they should use my resources has become so valuable to the success of my career.

 

Where has your career taken you? 

Whilst I was completing my master’s, I was promoted to a Senior Operations Controller position at Aero Adapt. As a flight support company, we complete a lot of the background work that the typical passenger wouldn’t see in the industry. In my current role as Operations Manager I 'choreograph the whole dance' meaning I look after a variety of teams who arrange everything from international permits and permissions, ground handling, fuelling, to crew and pax support and more. My job is to ensure everything from A to Z in the flight runs smoothly, putting out any potential fires before they even start.

 

What innovations do you think the industry needs? 

COVID-19 has been an eye opener for the sustainability of the industry. With more than 90% of international travel in/out of Australia being via plane, Aviation is reliant on travel and the movement of people. With traveller numbers having come to a near halt and aircraft being mothballed, there needs to be more thought around being geared for these kinds of situations. Qantas, I believe is at the forefront of this with their 7 hour scenic 'flight to nowhere'. This not only keeps people employed but assists in the maintenance of aircraft. Overall, I believe the industry is more reactive than proactive, we need to break this mould and begin to foresee potential issues.

 

What would your advice be for those currently studying or considering the study of Aviation at UNSW?

The Aviation industry will always have its ups and downs, it’s up to you to find out what area you are interested in and make it work. Just because aircraft are grounded now does not mean they will be forever, so in the meantime what will we do? Getting into aviation at this time is really exciting. It is the best time to implement new ideas and strategies into a quickly evolving industry.

I believe that UNSW Aviation produces high quality graduates through just comparing myself and alumnus from other universities. I would always recommend UNSW Aviation for studies.

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