In the build-up to The Investors in People Awards 2021, we’ve been speaking to the finalists, asking them to tell us their stories and what winning an award would mean to them.

Think is an aviation consultancy working with clients worldwide, helping make their operations better, whether that means safer, more sustainable or more cost-effective. Their consultants work with clients providing professional, trustworthy expertise. 

Think’s story shows us how companies can support and protect their employees, even when their industry is in survival mode, and people question whether things will ever get better.

And for an industry that has clung to the word hope for the past 18 months, retaining their people is the biggest prize of all.

We spoke to Managing Director Conor Mullan about why they entered, what an award would mean for them and what the future holds for Think

Why did you enter The Investors in People Awards 2021?

The past year has been absolutely brutal for aviation companies. It has been, without doubt, the most challenging period in aviation history. The pandemic has had a massive effect on the people within the trade, so we thought that if we entered, it might give us the chance to grasp a small chink of light in an otherwise dark period.  It would give us and our staff comfort, reassurance and – more importantly, hope. 

Are there any goals or challenges you hope an award will help you achieve or solve?

In truth, we are not looking for an award to help us achieve anything in the future. We don’t see it as a thing that will help us get ‘more’ of anything. Instead, we see it as a way to recognise the contribution of our people over the last 18 months, draw a line under a turbulent period and mark the beginning of a brighter future. 

What distinguishes you from other companies in the category you’re shortlisted in?

The main distinguishing feature has been our place in time and industry, where investment was hard in one of the worst-hit sectors. Uncertainty was everywhere, and staff costs were our biggest overhead. It would have been easy to let people go, but we felt a human, moral duty to our people. People aren’t only staff, they’re real people with real weddings to plan for and real babies to expect. Businesses like ours are made up of real people, not machines or products that we can switch off. 

What does being shortlisted mean to everyone at your company?

It’s tough to describe! Usually, awards do invoke emotions of joy and excitement, but this one is more complicated! It feels wrong to be overly celebratory when the industry is still suffering. As strange as it seems, it’s like the 7th stage of grief where the storm has passed, and you know you can move on with acceptance and hope.  Hope is the biggest word that keeps coming back.

What would it mean to win?

It would be an unburdening of lots of emotions! It’s been a challenging year, and you have to keep going through it, believing that tomorrow will be better. A short pandemic turned into a long one and then a longer one, those repeated kicks in the stomach became harder and harder to take, and it became harder to keep going and keep believing, but we had to. I guess that means if we won, lots of different emotions would come out! And if we don’t win, the fact we managed to keep our team together is the biggest prize anyway.

How does being shortlisted benefit your customers?

Probably not at all, and that’s just fine! We aren’t doing this for our customers, profit margins or anything like that. We’re doing it for ourselves because sometimes it’s nice to do nice things! 

How would you use being the recipient of this award to influence others?

This is a massive statement. The default reaction in the industry during the last 18 months has been to cut back on people, mass redundancies, furlough and job losses. It was very demoralising to see. If we won, it would be a vindication of a different approach – an approach of sticking by your team, investing in people as a way to grow out of a crisis rather than shrink into it. Maybe other people would see that such an approach is authentic, valid, and more successful. 

What can we expect to see from your organisation in the next 12 months? (And beyond!)

Growth! More people, more shared experiences, more adventure, more joy! We feel like we have been reborn and can get back to all the good things that being a small business means. Investing in our people has been 100% the right decision, even if it was a massive risk at the time.

What advice would you give to anyone applying for The Investors in People Awards 2022?

Go for it. Be honest. Tell your story, and don’t try to fit a story you think people want to hear. If your account is real, it will stand up and stand out. 

Read more of our finalist’s stories on our Awards page.

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