The Judges

Andy Dobson

Principal - Airline Practice Lead


Andy leads ICF/SHE's Airline practice in London as a Principal, and has over 24 years’ experience in the aviation industry, having worked for a number of airlines including British Airways, easyJet and Wizz Air in senior positions. His expertise lies primarily in the areas of airline operations, ground operations and ground handling. During his career, Andy has frequently had direct responsibility for the delivery of continuous operational improvement against a backdrop of rapid growth in challenging environments. He has held and managed roles and projects ranging from the operational transformation of airline and handling operations, the development and delivery of new safety and punctuality processes and procedures, and the procurement of services at ever-reducing unit costs. Having managed airport operations, pilot and cabin crew operations and Operations Control, and consulted for clients in all of these areas, Andy is able to offer deep expertise across all of the main elements of airline and ground handling operations.

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.

David Cross

Ground Operations Quality & Safety Manager


As Ground Operations Quality & Safety Manager, David is responsible for delivering end-to-end compliance oversight in relation to all ground operations areas, and providing specialist support covering all core back of house functions, including setting policy and standards. He is also responsible for owning and delivering development, change initiatives and strategic engagement with handling partners and equipment suppliers to drive key safety, compliance and efficiency improvements. David has over 20 years' experience in the aviation industry, having been previously employed by Continental Airlines, Menzies Aviation and Monarch Airlines in various roles, covering all areas of airport operations.

Desiree Perez

CEO & Founder

Aviation Leadership Academy

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.

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.

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.

Jon Conway

Director General

Airport Services Association (ASA)

Jon began his aviation career with BOAC (later British Airways) Cargo, before embarking on a 27 year career with Cathay Pacific Airways. Initially working in cargo operations at London Gatwick, he was appointed Airport Manager Manchester in 1989. In 1994 he moved to Hong Kong, where he held a variety of senior management roles, the last being Director & General Manager of Hong Kong Airport Services. In 2008, he joined dnata as Divisional Senior Vice-President UAE Airport Operations and in 2014 he was given additional responsibility for dnata Cargo. Overseeing a workforce of over 18,000 across the UAE, Jon was also a Director of several joint ventures. In March 2017 he was appointed Director General of the Airport Services Association (ASA), the trade body representing the global ground handling industry. He is also Vice-Chair of the IATA Ground Operations Group.

Lindsay Callard

Head of Heathrow HSSE

British Airways

Lindsay joined British Airways in January 2016 to head up the newly formed HSSE function at Heathrow, having previously worked in the oil, gas and petrochemicals industries for 25 years. A graduate and chartered engineer and chartered member of IOSH he has a particular interest in risk management and is always on the look-out for good practices that can be shared and applied from one sector to another.

Mohammed Akhlaq

Chief Commercial Officer


Mohammed has an extensive 28 years’ experience of the ground handling industry, enjoying a long and successful career at Servisair where he progressed through the ranks from Senior Operational Management roles through to Vice President Business Development Global cargo, sitting on the Ground Handlers Executive Committee. Mohammed joined dnata UK in 2012 and has been leading their commercial strategy and drive with the ground breaking dnata City Cargo project. The initiative has brought a new innovative approach to cargo handling at London Heathrow, building an extensive UK regional cargo handling/transport network and a fresh approach in ground handling at London Heathrow, as well as new start-up ground handling operations at Manchester and London Gatwick Airports.

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.

Patrícia Batista

President of Group Skills4U


Patricia Batista started her career in Aviation at 18 in Portugal, as a cabin crew for TAP Airlines and Portugalia. With a Psychology background, after 6 years working for the NHS, in 2012 embraced a career in Organisational Psychology. Her career to date is characterized by a drive to maximise productivity, embedding customer centric-cultures with a focus on changing behaviours, restructuring processes and addressing training needs. In 2012 returns to Aviation managing airside and landside services and developed a track record designing and delivering learning & development strategies to improve organizational effectiveness, performance and customer satisfaction. In 2014, Co-Founded AviationShake and as the Head of Training was responsible for designing and delivering vocational aviation programmes including Passenger Service Agent, Foundation in Flight Dispatch and Aviation Customer Service - alongside preparing cadets and pilots for recruitment processes - combining industry training needs with operational knowledge and human factors. In 2017 founded the Group Skills4U and launched a Training & Development Institute in Portugal (IFD Portugal) and Empower Skills International Academy in the UK. Currently working in partnership with Aviationskills Partnership to launch an International Aviation Diploma in September 2018, Patricia is honored to be part of the project to improve the industry’s skills crisis.

Simon Roberts

Safety Management Systems Programme Manager

UK Civil Aviation Authority

As the SMS Programme Lead, Simon's role has been to manage and harmonise the implementation of Safety Management Systems and oversight across the CAA and the UK aviation industry it regulates. He has also been involved in the development and delivery of SMS training courses for CAA inspectors and to industry and other national aviation authorities through CAA International. He is an active member of the Safety Management International Collaboration group and chairs the European Human Factors Advisory Group.

Alwyn Brice


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.

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.