O Canada! We stand to learn from thee: 3 takeaways from the Northwest AAAE's Annual Meeting in British Columbia

Just as a pilot prepares for takeoff, you must keep a finger on the pulse when preparing for the future of the aviation industry. Innovation is one of our core values at Connico, and as a leading national construction consultancy, we are always searching for new ways to successfully deliver clients’ visions for projects. We like to attend conferences and events whenever possible to engage in open discussions and learn from our colleagues and other thought-leaders within the industry.

This September, David Hunley, Connico’s vice president and chief development officer, had the honor and privilege to attend the 2023 Northwest AAAE Annual Meeting in Kelowna, British Columbia. He had a great time catching up with colleagues, building new relationships and gaining valuable information about the world of aviation. We asked him to share three of his top takeaways from his time at the conference. Read his insights below:

Strive to be a leader, not a boss
My first takeaway comes from the opening keynote address where David Irvine, one of the world's most respected thought leaders, speakers, mentors and executive coaches, spoke on authentic leadership. He noted that leadership is a presence and not a position, calling out the difference between a boss and a leader. A boss is described as someone that is caught up in procedures while being controlling and overbearing. However, a leader possesses the potential to unleash their employees’ best work. As I reflected on this, it made me proud of Connico’s management team for embracing the fundamentals of leadership, especially those that are younger. I like to think they learned this from the older dude on the team (me) but truth be told, they’ve held these qualities from the very beginning with our company.

In the midst of a worker shortage, prioritize your employees
The Worker Shortage & Employee Retention session was one of the most interesting and impactful conversations throughout my time at the conference. It was encouraging to hear the list of ways to support employee satisfaction while living through a desperate time in the labor force because I learned that we are already following the best practices at Connico. The commitment we have to our employees is unmatched, and I believe this is evident in our low turnover rate and ability to attract top talent over the last few years.

A personable relationship begins in-person
My final takeaway from this outstanding conference is that no matter the technology, there is nothing that can take the place of an in-person meeting to further the development of relationships. I was able to connect with a number of current and potential clients while at the conference, and that face-to-face connection is something that is impossible to replicate through an email, phone call or video chat. While advancements in the digital world have the ability to move our industry to new heights, I will always remain an advocate for authentic communication by prioritizing in-person connections.

Overall, my time up north was well-worth the journey. I’m appreciative of the opportunity to have represented Connico and talk with so many great folks from the Northwest Region. I look forward to furthering the connections made and keeping the important conversations flowing!

David Hunley is the vice president and chief development officer at Connico. He can be reached at