JMC Group’s France Caissy discusses how she will grow the company’s business in North America in light of a shortfall in maintenance technicians.
An established sales and operations aerospace professional, France Caissy has 30 years’ experience in human capital roles, including the last 15 years with a Staffing Leader in North America in aviation industry, exclusively assigned to a leading aerospace manufacturer. In July 2021 she joined leading aviation services talent recruiter JMC Group to lead their North America operation.
Here she discusses JMC Group’s – and her own – evolving role in the market, and the various challenges that a shortage of qualified aviation technicians in the industry presents.
Could you outline your role at JMC Group and the company’s main area of focus?
I am tasked with managing and growing JMC’s business in North America, responsible for the overall management and delivery of services with JMC customers across North America. My remit also covers developing strategies and providing innovative solutions to clients. I started here in a perfect storm – in the teeth of a pandemic. Prior to Covid-19 we were already experiencing a big shortage of qualified aviation technicians leaving their roles through redundancy, early retirement. Many technical services’ personnel and engineers decided not to return to the workforce. Others chose to abandon aviation for new careers. This has given us a challenge, but aviation is very cyclical and we are starting to see an upturn again.
Why did the business establish in North America?
Canada, especially Montreal, is the third-largest aviation hub in the world for aviation, aerospace and defense. Strategically, opening in Canada gives JMC the opportunity to further build on its reputation in the UK and Europe.
What differentiates JMC’s offering over its competitors?
The key to JMC’s success lies in its commitment to its people, contractors, clients and candidates. It’s all about building long-term relationships. We understand that when a customer is selecting a partner to support them with a staffing need, there are a variety of providers to choose from. We are never complacent. Our goal is to build on our proven track record in Europe and become a trusted market leader in staffing solutions in North America.
Our portfolio of solutions is diverse. Building on two decades of activity and expertise of putting aviation services personnel in jobs – from offices in South West UK, Malta, Budapest, and Sofia – we work closely with the employer, advising on typical rates and fees, as an aviation services’ specialist. JMC has been especially active redeploying employees who left their regular jobs owing to the pandemic. Identifying abilities and strengths in candidates is a key added value, customers tell us.
How did you get into aviation and how is your experience helping you in your current role?
Throughout my career I worked in IT staffing. The company I was supporting responded to an RFP from Bombardier Aerospace and as the only French speaker in the company I was invited to get involved.
We won the work 12 months later and the client asked me to take the lead. This led to a long and very rewarding relationship providing technicians/engineers and management in Montreal and Toronto; eventually expanding support client sites in the USA. We found personnel to work on the Dash 8, CRJ, C-series and business jet family – and helped place thousands of talented people into a new career. My 15 years with this specific client is one of my proudest professional achievements.
We supported the whole journey of the C Series – culminating in tears of joy when the aircraft made its maiden flight. The Director of that programme became one of my mentors and the great team work between our client and my team to ensure the delivery of the right manpower was exceptional.
What is the best business advice you have ever been given?
As you grow in confidence so your goals and advice will evolve, Suzanne Bernard advised me.
Failure is a gift and you can learn from it – and if you are not learning you are not moving forward. From every decision, there is something to learn. I often say to the people around me we all have the potential to be great. I always try to tap into the “why”, because it keeps you focussed. “Show up – don’t just walk in, take ownership and smile. Many incredible people have been in my path – both men and women, but it’s mostly the women I have admired for their leadership and their extra grit.”
Strong quality relationships with clients and a focused internal team are essential for a successful partnership.
How did the Covid-19 crisis impact on your work?
Like many of us, the pandemic had a huge impact on how we conducted business. From travelling weekly to working at home, Canada had some of the strictest mandated restrictions during the pandemic. We turned to Teams and Zoom for internal and client meetings. Travel restrictions and reduced airline timetables made travel difficult. Most Canadian events were either cancelled or went virtual. MRO Europe in Amsterdam was a big success. Meeting new colleagues face to face after such a long time was rewarding. It also led to a solid business lead we are now in regular contact with. As we head to the MRO Americas Show in Dallas this spring, we are pleased to have just added to the team with a new recruiter.
Given your expertise in recruitment, what advice would you give to a young person getting into aviation?
Regardless of the role you pursue – and in aviation, the choice is vast – from administration and HR to working directly on an aircraft – it’s a sector that people will quickly get hooked on and take pride in. There is something hugely rewarding about helping put an aircraft into the air. Whatever role you do, embrace it and take pride in it. There are multiple opportunities to explore and a raft of entry-level pathways.
The good news is that apprenticeships are returning. They are an excellent way for students to gain experience, learn the culture of the employer, enjoy on-the-job training, and get paid too. In Canada and USA apprenticeships are growing in popularity and supported by the Government.
I am pleased to be a member of the Canadian Mobility and Aerospace Institute (CMAI). CMAI works to ensure Canada is a world-class leader in the attraction, development, and retention of the highest quality workforce talent from Canada abroad. It’s a very helpful association for trade schools advising on careers in aviation to University. JMC is looking forward to doing more with them this year.