04
April
2019
|
07:25 PM
Europe/Amsterdam

In the wide world of airport business, diversity and inclusion is all the buzz

TPA and the Airport Minority Advisory Council will bring airports, industry leaders and minority- and woman-owned businesses together in a business summit later this month

Watson, Jacobs Vice President and GM of Puerto Rico and Florida Geography
Embracing inclusion and diversity is ultimately better for business, it’s better for profitability, better for the company overall.
Watson, Jacobs Vice President and GM of Puerto Rico and Florida Geography

Katus Watson has been around the corporate world long enough to see several trends and best practices in business come and go. But one he sees growing in the airport industry lately – the inclusion of woman- and minority-owned businesses and subcontractors – is especially promising, and he’s confident it will stick.

“At one point, employee health and safety were big initiatives for successful businesses and eventually it became part of the corporate culture,” said Watson, Vice President and GM of Puerto Rico and Florida Geography at Jacobs, a civil engineering firm that has worked on several recent construction projects at Tampa International Airport. “I see inclusion and diversity heading down that same path. Embracing inclusion and diversity is ultimately better for business, it’s better for profitability, better for the company overall.”

At airports around the country, including TPA, there’s a growing need to bring woman- and minority-owned companies to every facet of growth and operations, including construction, concessions, logistics and more. This is the aim of an upcoming Airport Minority Advisory Council summit, hosted by TPA, held from April 26-28 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. The industry event, titled Business Opportunity Summit: Business by the Bay, will attract hundreds of aviation leaders aviation and firms specializing in hospitality, transportation, business and construction, with a focus on opportunities for woman- and minority-owned businesses in airports throughout Florida and the Southeast.

Linda Porter, Voltair Consulting Engineers Director of Business Development
If you utilize people that truly represent your community and reflect a variety of backgrounds, it’s better for everyone and everyone prospers.
Linda Porter, Voltair Consulting Engineers Director of Business Development

The summit will cover topics ranging from technology trends, growing diversity in concessions and best practices in airport construction, as well as a session dedicated to airports to share information on upcoming opportunities. There will also be plenty of time for networking at several after-hours events specifically designed to reflect the flavors of Tampa Bay. Keynotes include Gerry Fernandez, Founder & President, Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance and fireside-style chat with Troy Taylor, Chairman & CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, who will share advice and insight about how building relationships can be the key to business success.

“This is going to be a premiere, marquee event for our community,” said Summit Chair Michael Stephens, General Counsel and Executive Vice-President of IT and Legal Affairs at TPA. “Tampa Bay is the vibrant business hub of Florida’s beautiful west coast and is the perfect venue to showcase the airport opportunities in Florida and throughout the region.”

Linda Porter, Director of Business Development for VoltAir Consulting Engineers, enjoyed her first AMAC event in Seattle last year and is excited to meet with other airport officials and industry experts in her hometown this year. As a former diversity manager for Skanska, Porter has watched a transformation taking place as more and more airports, large construction firms and other industries embrace diversity as not just a legal or governmental requirement, but as a way of improving business.

“I really believe in my heart that those companies that get it and understand it are the ones that will be the most successful in the long run,” Porter said. “If you utilize people that truly represent your community and reflect a variety of backgrounds, it’s better for everyone and everyone prospers.”

It’s a big reason why Jacobs, which has more than 80,000 employees worldwide and generates $15 billion in annual revenue, is a title sponsor of the AMAC summit event, Watson said. The firm integrated “inclusion” and “diversity” as two of its four core values last year and created several initiatives and committees designed to build on this culture both internally and externally.

“It’s not just race or gender or sexual orientation,” Watson said. “It’s diversity in thoughts and ideas and approach. I think there’s been a lot of studies and data that illustrate the benefits to the bottom line. Firms are more profitable and equipped to find more innovative solutions as they tap into the minds of all sorts of people.”

To register or learn more about AMAC’s Business Opportunity Summit: Business by the Bay, go to https://amac-org.com/businesssummit/.

Photos: AMAC's 34th Annual Airport Business Diversity Conference, held in Seattle last year, was a huge success and the organization looks forward to hosting a similar event in Tampa later this month.