Taking on the challenge of change

“If we chase perfection then we might just catch excellence.” These words from Toronto Pearson International Airport Vice President, Customer and Terminal Services Scott Collier will carry a familiar ring for colleagues and business partners at the airport, where he has used them to inspire and encourage a culture of change.

They will resonate too among those who attended the 2017 FAB Conference (hosted by Toronto Pearson) or the Trinity Forum in Bangkok, where Collier memorably first told the story of Pearson’s attempts at transformation to the wider airport community, one that raised awareness of how Canada’s largest airport was trying to be daring and different.

The line sums up a commitment at the Greater Toronto Airports Authority to be courageous rather than comfortable in its engagement with staff, partners and, most importantly, travelling consumers.

This is also a story of new commercial orientation, which has seen Toronto Pearson go from an under-performing business to one that is consistently hitting record sales highs and robust average spend growth.

It’s the story of an airport that rated among the lowest in its region for customer satisfaction in 2014 and that now ranks not only as number one in North America but also competes admirably on the basis of its service quality standards on the global stage.

At its heart, this is a story about taking on one of the biggest challenges in any organisation: to change the culture from within. To shine a light on practices, policies and partnerships, not by forcing people to act differently but by getting those people – in this case almost 50,000 staff across a range of organisations – to be the leaders. The ‘I Am Toronto Pearson’ movement that has emerged from this empowerment of people is something, we believe, that other airports can and should aspire to.

Dermot Davitt, Editor

There are also lessons to be learned from Pearson’s approach to Trinity partnerships, its willingness to embrace new thinking about and establish new templates for its dealings with airlines, government agencies, concessionaires and brands.

There’s a spirit of collaboration here and a pride among employees in working at the airport that is real and it is lived out daily.

Five years on from the start of this journey, the team at Toronto Pearson invited us to tell this tale of transformation. We welcome their trust and hope this story can help inspire others to play their own part in changing the world of aviation for the benefit of the end user – the customer.

Spotlight Series - January 2020

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