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 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.

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.

Mohammed Akhlaq

Chief Commercial Officer


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.