Interview with Dennis Göppel, Aviation Specialist
- 8 min read
It was obvious I would end up in aviation, as I always had an enormous passion for the industry. Since I was little, I collected aircraft models, went to see aircraft at airports and followed airlines in their strategic developments. I always assumed to become a pilot, but ultimately, I discovered that my strengths and focus were more on a strategic and managerial level. Next to that, I grew up (and loved) exploring exotic countries and foreign cultures; that’s something really exciting about the international aviation environment.
The international character of Hotelschool The Hague appealed to me. I enjoyed the variation of theoretical and practical learning, combined with international internships. I believe I was a very motivated student, passed all my exams at the first attempt and had good grades. Throughout my studies at Hotelschool The Hague, I already focused on a future career in aviation. Every step I took (my internships, projects and reports) were all aimed towards my future career. For my first internship, I was persistent on finding an internship at an international business hub. That’s why I chose to go to Dubai; a very international city and environment to work in. I ended up working for the Jumeirah Group at the prestigious Madinat Jumeirah Resort. I worked 11 hours a day, six days a week and met very interesting and well-known people.
For my graduation internship, I naturally wanted to find a company in aviation, hoping I could eventually stay there and get employed. I have to thank Ms Elina Sperth, the placement coordinator at Hotelschool The Hague for kick-starting my career. Elina knew someone at PrivatAir in Geneva (Switzerland), one the most traditional and famous private jet operators in the world. Subsequently, I started my internship in Switzerland. I was involved in restructuring a division of the company called Business Aviation (meaning private jets). The internship was great, as PrivatAir, renowned in both business and commercial aviation, has very high service levels and quality standards and deals with ultra-high net worth individuals and VIP clients (who occasionally also happened to be the same clients as the VIP clients I worked with during my first internship in Dubai). At the end of my internship, PrivatAir offered me full-time employment. I graduated in July, went on vacation in August and started as a full-time employee in September.
I started as “Manager Business Aviation” and quickly grew into “Director Aircraft Management and Aircraft Sales” looking after clients from all around the world for aircraft sales and acquisitions, as well as aircraft management and aircraft charter services. At PrivatAir we provided complete acquisition, sales and support services for business jet owners in the upper segment of the industry. To put it simple: we worked with extremely wealthy people - an international clientele with an emphasis on Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The company's wide range of clients included royalty, heads of state, public officials, celebrities from the arts, sports and entertainment industries, captains of industry and private aircraft owners.
Recently, I started my own company in business aviation, working for a very prominent client from Dubai. My average workweek can be (and was) rather unusual at times, including (but not limited to) business meetings on a mega yacht in Monaco, in a palace or skyscraper in Dubai or somewhere on an airport on the other side of the globe. Working in such an unusual environment enables me to reflect and to keep both feet on the ground. It is very interesting to see that extreme wealth also comes with extreme powers and (social) responsibility. It makes me very happy with the (rather) normal life I have. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and meeting new people, learning about new cultures at exciting destinations.
Working in aviation certainly also has its general advantages. Sometime ago for instance, I travelled around the world in two weeks, together with a friend from Hotelschool The Hague. It was pretty crazy, travelling almost 40,000 kilometres around the world, following the Equator. We started in Geneva, went to Frankfurt, Singapore, Sydney, Auckland, Tahiti (Bora Bora), Los Angeles and Las Vegas before we returned to Europe again. When we came back it felt like we had travelled for three months. Another highlight was last year, when I reached my 1 million kilometres of commercial flying on a flight from Dubai to Mauritius. Over time I have almost done 1000 flights and travelled all around the world.
My advice: enjoy every single day, work hard, focus on the things you like and simply go for it! Don’t let other people distract you to follow your dreams. Use the elements from your education that fit with your plans for the future and take them to your advantage. Additionally, feel privileged to be able to study at Hotelschool The Hague. You are one of the lucky ones in this world being able to get an education on such high level, not everyone has that opportunity!