Jamie Conley, Crew Manager / Acting Watch Manager, Islay Airport
How long have you been in your current role?
Just over 2 years.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
From an early age I knew I wanted to be a part of the Emergency Services but growing up in Campbeltown – which is a relatively small place – meant that there weren’t many opportunities for young people and I knew I would have to move away and work hard to achieve my personal goals.
I joined the Young Firefighter’s Scheme when I was 14 – run by Strathclyde Fire & Rescue, I spent 3 years in the scheme and addition to learning firefighting skills being part of the scheme also helped to develop my team working, problem solving and communication skills. When I left school l joined the Retained Fire Service in Campbeltown and served there for 1 year; Campbeltown Fire station is a great unit with a great team but an opportunity arose at Dundee Airport as a Firefighter and I was lucky enough to have been successful. I worked at Dundee Airport for 2 years as a Firefighter before taking on my new position at Islay.
Due to the Crew Manager role at Islay being so diverse it’s not really one you can study for. I gained as much experience as I could while I worked at Dundee Airport – the knowledge that I gained from all the staff there has definitely helped me in my manager’s role. Since starting at Islay I have gained my Instructor / Assessor awards and I have just recently completed my Internal Verifier award through Inverness College which will hopefully help my career progression.
I am extremely settled here on Islay but I would ideally like to be Islay Airport’s Station Manager (sorry, Niall!). Alternatively I have thought about moving to other airports within HIAL. For the time being I am very focused on achieving the best for Islay, the past few years have seen a lot of changes in the whole operation but currently we have a great staff, everyone is playing their part and I feel that I have been a big influence towards this.
What are your main responsibilities in your current role?
With the assistance of the Station Manager and my colleagues I help to ensure that all the departments within the operation at Islay are compliant and that all staff are trained in the roles that they carry out to ensure the safety of all our customer’s and colleagues. I aim to get as much experience as possible in my current role, the role is diverse and it involves working closely with Security, Admin, Air Traffic Services and Motor Transport so there is a lot to learn and understand. Currently we have 4 new recruit Firefighters so there is a lot of training getting carried out to get them trained fully in every aspect of the Fire Service / Operations role, though it can be repetitive and time consuming it can be really enjoyable and satisfying seeing people learn new skills.
Are there any particular challenges?
Living on an island with a very low unemployment rate means it is often difficult for us to get staff to fill operational roles.
What do you love about your job at HIAL…
I love being able to work with such a great team, not only within Islay but within HIAL as a company. No day is ever the same, there’s always some problem solving and team working getting done between different departments.
The only downside is…
That the job is tying. The island is getting busier and that means us as an airport are getting busier. Special Openings and shift Extensions have now became a regular thing.
What would you say to someone who wanted to work in your role?
‘Go for it!!’ It’s a great opportunity you will not regret. It is a challenging yet rewarding job, every day is different and there are plenty of opportunities for career progression within the company.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
Much to my girlfriend’s disgust I am a keen road cyclist and most of my days off are spent cycling around the island and yes I do wear Lycra…!
What are your recommendations for someone visiting Islay?
- The Peatzeria in Bowmore is always a good choice for food
- One of my favourite things to do when I’m off is to cycle to Bruichladdich … only because the coffee and cake is good in Debbie’s
- A walk to the American Monument up The Oa has always been a favourite of mine. On a good day the views from this point are amazing, taking in the coast of Northern Ireland, the Kintyre Peninsula and the islands of Jura, Colonsay and Mull
- On the rare days that me and my Girlfriend are off together and the weather isn’t that great we normally go and visit one of the 8 distilleries , my Granda worked in the whisky industry in Campbeltown so since moving to Islay I have become interested in learning more about it
- A trip out with Islay sea adventures on the rib is always a good day, whether it’s a spin around the Loch Indaal, the Mull of Oa or the Corryvreckan