In 2011, Embry-Riddle Executive MBA graduate, Lisa Anderson Spencer was offered an opportunity of a lifetime - to create a new office with the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS). This office, operating on behalf of all UN Organizations, would have a dedicated focus on providing an evidence-based, global approach to assessing the relative risk and suitability of air operators for use on official UN Travel, as well as a policy role. With a passion for aviation and the drive to never stop exploring, Lisa and her team are making a quantifiable difference in today’s world of aviation transportation.
What attracted you to Embry-Riddle?
I was very aware that the global aviation industry was quite complex and dynamic. Once I decided that my career would be in aviation, I chose to attend THE school that was dedicated to the industry and respected on an international basis.
What do you think sets your Embry-Riddle business education apart from other schools?
Aviation is business – BIG business – and Embry-Riddle understands this better than anyone. As a commercial pilot, I can fly an aircraft but this is does not mean I know how the entire global industry is interconnected. With the breadth and width of programs and quality/experience of professors that Embry-Riddle has available, there is no better university for my area of specialty.
How did you become interested in aviation and aerospace?
Growing up in rural Kentucky, I relied on old National Geographic magazines to introduce me to the world. Since I fancied myself to be the pioneering-type, I was keen to explore and discover as much as I could. It was obvious that aviation was the common thread to connect me to rest of the globe. I’ve learned that the more I travel, the smaller the world gets and the greater my responsibility to protect, promote and respect the beauty and diversity that keeps it spinning.
Can you describe your current work at The United Nations Department of Safety and Security?
In 2011, I was offered the opportunity to create new UN office that focused on assessing aviation risk on behalf of all United Nations (UN) Organizations through the Department of Safety and Security (DSS). What started as an exploratory process is now a fully operational office and manages the UN’s very first Air Travel Policy, dedicated to aviation safety.
The offices and departments within UNDSS all work together to provide leadership, policy and specialized services to enable the conduct of UN programmes and activities. Our work helps protect the people who work for a better world - wherever they are located or may travel.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Who else gets to say they helped create a new UN office?! I have been given the opportunity to collaborate and develop new concepts with other aviation and safety/security professionals to help benefit humanitarian service. This is more than a job, it’s a daily test in assessing and adapting to the most complex industry in the world. My team and I have a real opportunity to make a quantifiable difference in the world.
What advice can you offer to current and prospective Embry-Riddle business students?
Regardless of the aviation role you seek or plan to go into, be sure to look at the school program and faculty carefully. Read all that you can find on the topic you wish to be a subject matter expert. Research the author and topic; chances are high that they will have a connection to Embry-Riddle.
Consider the funding. Research and apply for as many scholarships as possible. The writing required for scholarship applications will serve to better solidify your aviation goals, further your enthusiasm for the industry and aid you in learning how to market yourself (which can help in performing better in future interviews). Regardless if you win the actual scholarship or not, you still win by creating the dialogue within your own head to help you succeed at the finest aviation university.