Sierra Lund Of The Sierra Bravo Group On The Future Of Aviation and Aviation Tech

An Interview With David Leichner

David Leichner, CMO at Cybellum
Authority Magazine

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Willingness to Learn. Cockiness can kill a pilot and it may even kill your aviation career. Aviation is ever changing and the wonderful machines we get to work with every day will surly humble you when you need it. It is very important to continue to learn and ask questions when needed.

As part of our series about “The Future Of Aviation”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sierra Lund .

Aviation has been a part of Sierra’s life from a very young age. She earned her pilots license at 17 years old and has been flying ever since. Now Sierra runs her own brokerage, The Sierra Bravo Group, and is an aviation broker specializing in small to midsize business aircraft.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series!Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

When I was a student pilot I had an engine failure on take off during my first solo cross country at 400 feet AGL. I landed on the 11th fairway of the golf course right off the runway. I walked away from the incident and was back in the air the very next day! I ended up getting interviewed on Good Morning America, at the worlds largest airshow in Oshkosh Wisconsin, and even made it on PGA.com ! Probably the coolest thing that came of it was meeting Harrison Ford and talking about our shared experiences emergency landing on golf courses.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the funniest mistakes I made as a student pilot was coming home from a trip with four of my good friends. We would frequently fly to South Flordia for weekend trips to meet up with other young pilots! This particular trip I left the flight and fuel planning to two of our good friends. When we landed at our home airport in Atlanta we realized we had used way more fuel than we had planned for and landed with fuel levels lower than my personal comfort level. I later learned that the pilot in command had relied on the fuel plan of the plane we were flying with, who had much larger fuel tanks than our particular plane did.

Looking back this was one of those “young and dumb” stories I’m sure we all have from our teenage years. I learned a lot from this particular experience. As far as my personal flying, I have set very strict personal minimums and will always take responsibility for ensuring those minimums are met, even if I am not Pilot In Command for that particular flight. I carry lessons from this moment into my professional career as well. Just like flying, the buying and selling process has many moving parts. Being thorough and leaving nothing up to chance helps me ensure a smooth transaction for my clients. In business and flying things are bound to go sideways, being prepared makes all the difference.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I am so grateful for my parents giving me the opportunity to become a pilot and get involved with the aviation industry at such a young age. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of my Dad. He is a pilot and an IA aviation mechanic. He is one of the most knowledgeable people you’ll ever talk to when it comes to aviation and continues to teach me lessons about aviation and life every day.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Humility.

Humility is a funny thing when it comes to being an entrepreneur; you have to have enough, maybe even unwarranted, confidence to start the journey but the humility to know you can’t afford to stop learning. Over the years of trying, failing, and coming out the other side better for it I have learned that being a business owner is the best personal development course you can possibly put yourself through. If you walk into the room with confidence knowing you’re suppose to be there but having humility knowing that you always have something to learn , you will get so much farther.

Perseverance.

I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was 18 years old. That sounds impressive but really all that means is instead of blowing my money on clothes and dinner like your average young person, I blew my money on logos and LLC’s and everything else you would think you need to start a business. Over the years I have had countless false starts, pivots, and even total industry changes. The one thing I am very proud of over the course of the journey of getting to where I am now is my perseverance. Sometimes I look back on all of the moments I could have quit and am so thankful I stuck it out for a little while longer. Whether it’s complete failures or a pivot point, everyone will face moments where they want to throw in the towel ; in these moments perseverance is key.

Integrity

Valuing integrity in your personal and professional life is so important. You’ll learn that every industry ends up being a small industry nowadays and your reputation means everything. I made the decision when I first started this journey that I would never compromise my integrity for any amount of money. About a year into starting my first business that promise was put to the test. My business partner at the time and I had put thousands of dollars and countless hours into developing a product we were set to launch with another business. We were set to launch this product at the biggest event of the year for our partner company. After arriving at the event and watching how the leadership treated their clients and staff I knew we could not put our reputation at stake partnering with this company. The night before we were set to launch, we sat down with the leadership and informed them we were no longer comfortable putting our name along side theirs. We ended up backing out of a deal that was projected to make us 6 figures and cutting our loses. Although it was hard to swallow at the time I am so glad we decided to choose our reputation over a quick dollar.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the Aviation and Air Travel industries?

Purchasing and selling an aircraft is not a small task. That’s why aviation brokers and brokerages are so important. Some may say I’m a little crazy trying to compete against brokerages that have been in business for 15+ years and with brokers that have been in the aviation industry for longer than I’ve been alive. I believe I can bring a new perspective to the industry with The Sierra Bravo Group. As a boutique aviation brokerage, you can always count on 5 star service throughout your the entire transaction process. Over half my life has been in the aviation industry and I have had the opportunity to create an extensive network of aviation professionals, including other brokers. My clients not only have access to this network through the transaction process but moving forward in the ownership experience. Once you buy or sell with The Sierra Bravo Group you become part of the family. No matter how big we get our customers will always feel the passion and detail put into every interaction.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing these innovations?

There are so many moving parts in the transaction process, having a broker overseeing the transaction who is knowledgeable and committed to giving you the best possible experience will save you time and money. No customer of mine will ever become “another deal”.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

I envision bringing a “small business” mindset to a very large industry will make an impact. As we grow I intend on bringing a more vibrant experience to the selling process by hosting exclusive events for my clients and network with professionals in other industries. I hope to not only get my listings in front of the aviation industry but all qualified buyers.

My expertise is in product security, so I’m particularly interested in this question. Recently there were famous cases of hackers breaking into the software running automobiles, for ransomware or for other malicious purposes. Based on your experience, what should aviation companies do to uncover vulnerabilities in the development process to safeguard their vehicles and aircraft?

The technology evolving in the aviation community is incredible. Companies like TBM and Cirrus are starting to use things like the “home safe” button for situations where the pilot may become incapacitated; this allows passengers to press one button and have the aircraft alert air traffic control and land itself at the nearest safe airport. Bombardier has robots assemble the fuselage of their Challengers to ensure a perfect seamless design, something that would be impossible to achieve with even the most steady hands. Manufacturers like Textron are trusting 3D printed engine parts for their latest developments. In the commercial aviation world, an Airbus aircraft will tell mechanics exactly what’s wrong, most of the time before it even affects flight operations.

All of this technology is extremely incredible and will advance aviation to the next era of fight. From a security standpoint the technology in commercial aircraft is extremely difficult if not impossible to hack. The aircraft the general public are used to flying on are pretty much “hacker proof”. Commercial aircraft use radio and inertial navigation as their primary form of navigation rather than GPS. This means that if a person or organization were to try and GPS jam an area flight operations would go on without a hiccup.

What aviation companies should be proactive about is training their flight crew on every piece of technology in the aircraft. Even though we can push a button and have an aircraft land itself unsupervised, the pilots and flight crew are our most important piece of safety equipment when we are in the air. As advanced as technology is becoming it will fail or malfunction. It is critical to have trained and capable pilots for when failure occurs.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Aviation Industry?

Passion.

Aviation is a great industry to start your career in. It is a community filled with passionate individuals. From pilots, to aircraft mechanics, to ATC controllers and flight attendants, everyone has paid their dues one way or another. The training and hours needed to be a successful pilot and/or mechanic is not for the faint of heart. If you are not passionate about your career choice the steps necessary to get to your end goal will be extremely difficult to wrap your brain around. If you want a career in aviation learn to be passionate about every step of the journey.

Network.

I am sure there are a lot of communities out there saying they are a tight knit group, I might be bias, but nothing comes close to the aviation industry. You can go to an airshow and talk to someone from the other side of the world that has flown a trip or two with your best friend. The aviation industry takes care of their own and most people you meet are eager to help if you have a genuine passion for what you’re aspiring to do. If you are looking to get into aviation as a career, go to events and join groups with fellow aviation enthusiast and people who are further along in the process than you are.

Willingness to Learn.

Cockiness can kill a pilot and it may even kill your aviation career. Aviation is ever changing and the wonderful machines we get to work with every day will surly humble you when you need it. It is very important to continue to learn and ask questions when needed.

Supportive Friends and Family.

Just like any other industry, when building a career it is so important to have a good support system who understand your goals. If you don’t have a supportive group not to worry! Like I said previously the aviation industry takes care of their own. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and find a group at your local airport or online that you click with.

Education / Experience.

Lastly, experience in aviation means everything. For many jobs there are experience requirements to even apply. When you are first starting out take every opportunity to gain experience you can. This will help your resume as well as help you continue to build a network of aviation professionals.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would love to eventually make an impact on my community by promoting and educating fellow pilots and aviation professionals on how to better take care of their physical and mental health.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find more information about The Sierra Bravo Group at www.sbaviationgroup.com , if you are looking to buy or sell an aircraft you can email sierra@sbaviationgroup.com

IG : @thesierralund & @thesbgroup_

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

About The Interviewer: David Leichner is a veteran of the Israeli high-tech industry with significant experience in the areas of cyber and security, enterprise software and communications. At Cybellum, a leading provider of Product Security Lifecycle Management, David is responsible for creating and executing the marketing strategy and managing the global marketing team that forms the foundation for Cybellum’s product and market penetration. Prior to Cybellum, David was CMO at SQream and VP Sales and Marketing at endpoint protection vendor, Cynet. David is the Chairman of the Friends of Israel and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Jerusalem Technology College. He holds a BA in Information Systems Management and an MBA in International Business from the City University of New York.

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David Leichner, CMO at Cybellum
Authority Magazine

David Leichner is a veteran of the high-tech industry with significant experience in the areas of cyber and security, enterprise software and communications