Alumna Leads San Diego Airport into Future through Vision, Enhancements
In her role as president and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, Embry-Riddle alumna Kim Becker believes in providing strong leadership for both the organization and community. San Diego International Airport (SAN) has a $12 billion economic impact and provides 9,000 jobs within the community. Becker, who grew up outside of Reading, Pennsylvania, doesn't take this responsibility lightly.
"I am always working to ensure we are headed in the right direction, starting with a strong vision for the organization. Every decision we make today and tomorrow should lead toward our long-term vision," said Becker. "It's vital that we communicate this vision to our community so they recognize that we are working diligently to support them."
Community outreach is one of many responsibilities assigned to the president/CEO. Becker's role requires her to change gears often, whether it’s managing negotiations with a concession vendor, preparing an in-depth pitch for a new airline, troubleshooting with construction companies or giving presentations to community groups, politicians and the general public.
"The interesting thing about working at an airport is that every day is different," shared Becker. "The environment is dynamic and things can change at any moment in time."
A Construction Site with a Runway
Since starting this role in May 2017, Becker has led many improvements at SAN. Among these projects are a $1 billion, 20-year capital improvement project and updates to Terminal 1 -- a 50-year old, 19-gate facility that will be replaced with a new, 30-gate terminal.
"There is an old joke that says an airport is a construction site with a runway," she said. "We've received multiple grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over the past few years that allow us to provide additional upgrades to the airport and services to the community."
These grants include $13 million to upgrade the taxiway and airfield infrastructure and add a hydrant fueling system, which pumps fuel through underground pipes for more efficient refueling. They also received $1.3 million for four zero-emission, electric buses for use on Inter Terminal routes and $14 million toward the Quieter Home Program, which provides acoustical treatments to homes near the airport that fall within the 65 decibel sound range.
A City within a City
Becker sees the airport as its own mini city, with jobs ranging well beyond typical airport professions such as aircraft technicians and mechanics.
"You can have any type of job here," she said. "From electrician or engineer to accountant or environmentalist. Pretty much any job you can find, we have it here."
A Degree to Fill the Aviation Gap
With an undergraduate degree in business, Becker wanted to expand her aviation knowledge and expertise with a Master of Business Administration in Aviation (MBAA).
"Even though I had a bachelor's degree and on-the-job training, I didn't have a technical background in aviation," Becker shared. "The MBAA program at Embry-Riddle filled in the gap and gave me the knowledge base necessary to grow my career forward."
The MBAA degree provides a strong foundation of business principles and sets graduates up for success in aviation and non-aviation industries. For more information about the MBAA program at Embry-Riddle, visit erau.edu/degrees/master/business-administration-aviation.