The Judges

Alwyn Brice

Managing Editor

Ground Handling International

It took Alwyn five years in the banking sector to realise the error of his ways. After that experience he took a degree in English and French and entered the educational sector, where he remained for eight years. Concurrently, he began freelance writing in his spare time. In 1992 he took another plunge, which saw him quit secondary teaching and join a monthly magazine. After several years spent in automotive and food technology journals he moved into aviation, becoming Ground Handling International's Editor in 2000. To date he has written two books and has a third in the pipeline.

Desiree Perez

Head Coach

Up Performance Coaching

Desiree is a recognised expert in the aviation industry for her work with leadership teams and individuals on leadership and professional development. Prior to her 18 years in aviation, Desiree lived in Argentina, then Germany, before being relocated to the US in 2011. Desiree served as a senior leader in the aviation industry on a global level, leading multicultural customer excellence teams for some of the most recognised airlines, airports and service providers. During that time she witnessed first-hand the importance of leadership development. Desiree currently speaks on the importance of leadership development in an ever-changing aviation environment, with an increased focus on profitability, customer service and safety.

Gaoussou Konate

Consulting Director Technical and Operations

African Airlines Association (AFRAA)

Gaoussou is an aviation professional who graduated as a Mechanical Engineer in 1979 at the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon, in France. Currently, he is senior aviation consultant and Chief Executive Officer. In this capacity he has just completed a nine-month contract with the African Development Bank and contributed to the development of the Bank Framework and Guidelines to Support the Aviation Sector. His corporate experience includes time spent in air transport and civil aviation in Africa. During his career in the sector, he worked for a decade at Air Afrique, then spent 11 years with the African Airline Association as AFRAA's Technical Director, where his assignments included airline operations, engineering, training and technical co-operation among African carriers. He subsequently moved to IATA, where he eventually became Regional Director Safety, Operations, and Infrastructure. Since 2012 he has successfully focussed on the African States in connection with the implementation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices.

Gustavo Di Cio


Abiax Air Aviation

Gustavo is the Director of Abiax Air Aviation. Before co-founding Abiax Air in 2008, he was the Director of Strategy at the Latin American Airline Association, but also worked developing aviation projects for Canadian government. Before joining the aviation industry he held senior and CEO positions in the financial and insurance sectors within Latin America. Gustavo holds an MBA in Aviation Management from Concordia University, Montreal, a diploma in Sustainable Tourism and a degree in Business Administration. He teaches Evaluation of Investment Projects and Aviation Economics for Latin American civil aviation authorities. A writer, he has also participated in conferences as a speaker, moderator and chairman, and has attended more than 100 aviation and airport events.

David Clark

Global Head of Safety & Security

Worldwide Flight Services (WFS)

David has spent 20 years in commercial aviation, the last nine in senior management positions focussed on ground operations safety, security and training. He started his career with British Airways in the UK on an Engineering Graduate Programme after obtaining a BSc in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Glasgow. He recently left BA to join Worldwide Flight Services, based in Paris, France, taking on the new role of Global Head of Safety & Security, reporting to the Group CEO. David has been active within industry forums for many years, including acting as Vice-Chair of the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations Oversight Committee, and has been a member of the UK CAA Ground Handling Operational Safety Team. His interests include all aspects of aviation safety and security performance, including management systems, risk management, culture and technology.

John Willis

John has been in the civil aviation industry for over 50 years, initially with various airlines including British United Airways, before joining Servisair in 1968. He became Commercial Director, then Managing Director and subsequently Chairman and CEO. He was a founder Vice Chairman of the International Ground Handling Council and Chairman of the International Aviation Handlers Association since its formation, until December 2010. He now assists a number of ground handling related companies in various capacities in different parts of the world.

Max Gosney

Portfolio Director & Conference Chairman

Ground Handling International

Max joined GHI in 2017 after launching and hosting conference and award events in the UK manufacturing industry. A trained journalist, Max strives to deliver innovative content on stage, online or in print that challenges, educates and entertains. As a non-aviation professional - Max is always eager to don the hi-vis jacket and get out on the apron to experience the everyday challenges facing ground handling businesses and their airline customers. Max graduated as a biochemist from Cardiff University in 2001. He became a NUJ/NCTJ accredited journalist in 2003. Max went on to an award-winning 14 year editorial career including stints at magazines in the UK pub, pharmacy and manufacturing sectors. Outside of work - Max is never far from a book, the fridge or the 5-a-side football pitch.

Mohammed Akhlaq

Chief Commercial Officer


Mohammed has 29 years’ experience of the ground handling industry, having enjoyed a career at Servisair, where he progressed through the ranks from Senior Operational Management roles to Vice President Business Development Global Cargo, sitting on the Ground Handlers Executive Committee. Mohammed joined dnata UK in 2012 and has been leading its commercial strategy. He has been involved with the dnata City Cargo project, and has contributed to enhancing ground handling at Heathrow, as well as worked on start-ups at Manchester and Gatwick airports.

Nicholas Pelham

Ground Operations Quality and Safety Manager


Nicholas has worked in aviation since 2004, starting in ground handling dispatch and operations with Swissport at Manchester airport. He then moved into duty management positions, both front and back of house, before working as a service delivery manager, being responsible for key contracts including Emirates, Air France, KLM and Finnair. Nicholas joined Monarch Airlines in 2014, where he worked on operational performance and the development of risk management processes. In 2017 he joined easyJet at Gatwick, as a Quality & Safety Specialist, and latterly as Ground Operations Quality & Safety Manager from January 2019.

Oliver Mathwich

Manager Procurement (Airline) Ground & Cargo Handling


After different roles in Ground Handling / Airport Services on both sides as Ground Handler and Airliner, Oliver is heading up Emirates Global Procurement for Ground and Cargo Handling since August 2016.

Patricia Batista

Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Empower Skills International Academy

Patricia started her career in aviation in Portugal, as a cabin crew member for TAP Airlines and Portugalia. With a Psychology background, after six years working for the NHS, in 2012 she embraced a career in Organisational Psychology.  In 2014 she co-founded AviationShake and, as the Head of Training, was responsible for designing and delivering vocational aviation programmes. In 2017 she founded Group Skills4U and launched a Training & Development Institute in Portugal (IFD Portugal) and Empower Skills International Academy in the UK. She is currently working in partnership with the Aviationskills Partnership with the aim of launching an International Aviation Diploma.

Tania Boyes

Director Cargo Operations

Virgin Atlantic Cargo

Previously, as Head of Safety at Virgin Atlantic, Tania spent five years as the airline’s nominated European Aviation Safety Agency Safety Manager, responsible for the development, administration and maintenance of the Safety Management System. In this role, she led a team responsible for all aspects of flight safety, ground operations safety, engineering safety, cabin safety and occupational health and safety. Tania started her career with Airbus UK before joining Virgin Atlantic in 2001 as a Development Engineer, later holding senior posts in Engineering Safety and Quality Assurance.