Our resident polyglot and Aviation Systems Consultant, George Little, joined Zafire Group Ltd in June 2021, in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This undoubtedly made for some rather interesting experiences when it came to his delivering training to our customers. With a wealth of experience in the safety-conscious aviation industry, however, George was more than equipped to keep calm and carry on regardless.
We caught up with George to hear what he has to say about working for Zafire and to discover a little bit more about him, both personally and professionally.
What do you like most about Zafire Group Ltd?
I’ve worked for several large corporates and they are a bit like oil tankers trying to turn when it comes to change or challenges. Zafire is much more agile and intimate, and these are definitely positive attributes.
What is your role at Zafire Group Ltd and what does a typical day at work look like for you?
As an Aviation Systems Consultant and a member of Zafire’s Delivery Team, led by Ady Jones, our Programme Director, I’m responsible for training our customers, both remotely and on site, as well as documenting our training. My background is in aviation and I have previously worked in international ground operations for a well-known flag carrier airline in North America, well-known low-cost carriers, and cargo airlines where I was responsible for delivering training on turnaround, load control, weight and balance, and BRS. This experience has definitely come in handy for delivering training on our Global Aviation Software Solutions, including FirstBag, FirstRamp, and FirstLoad.
When I joined Zafire last summer, I had to deliver training remotely for the first three weeks which was a big learning curve for me, given that training is typically delivered face to face in a classroom environment. Nonetheless, I happily rose to the challenge and feel at ease with both remote and in-person training now. A typical day for me would involve a plethora of training-related tasks, dealing with customer calls and emails, and explaining processes and sub-processes within whichever system of ours has been deployed for the customer. After initial training has taken place, I handle any additional training requirements identified by the customer until such time as they are sufficiently proficient to be handed over to our Technical Support Team.
What was the last movie you saw at the cinema and how would you rate it?
Having worked a lot in France and Belgium, and having picked up fluent French, I really enjoy francophone cinema. The last movie I watched at the cinema was Intouchables which I saw in Valaise, in the south of France, with my late mother-in-law. It’s based on a true story which was part of its appeal for me. It’s about an extremely wealthy man who lives a life of luxury in Paris. After a paragliding accident, he becomes a quadriplegic and he needs to recruit a carer. A French African applies for the role and, in spite of their considerably different backgrounds, they develop a wonderful bond. It’s a very good piece of cinema and I really enjoyed it. It was subsequently made into a Hollywood movie called The Upside but the original French film is so much better.
If you could be anyone from any time period, who would you be and why?
I would choose to be the fictional character, Poldark, from the series of historical novels by Winston Graham (and the fairly recent BBC television adaptation) set in 18th-century Cornwall. I love the simplicity of that era when you had no need for a fancy car, you could just jump on the back of a horse and ride into town to pick up your provisions. Being able to do that by the Cornish coast would just make it even better!
Tell me three things most people don’t know about you.
I’m not only fluent in French, I’m also fluent in Spanish. As a vegetarian, my favourite meal is a Catalan dish cooked on an open fire at an event called a calçotada, a public festival or private get-together that involves eating calçots, a type of green onion. I’m very outdoorsy: I love nature, and I love the sea. I’ve done a lot of walking, surfing, and diving as I grew up by the coast and I also lived in Egypt at one stage. At school, my PE teacher was a former SAS soldier and he used to take us for a swim in the sea for our Monday morning PE lesson. There’s a slower pace of life by the coast. I’m currently living inland for the first time in my life and it’s a very different experience!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love being outdoors, as you’ve probably gathered by now, and I love gardening. I also love reading and recently enjoyed a book based on a true story called Judy: The Unforgettable Story of the Dog Who Went to War and Became a True Hero by Damien Lewis. It’s set during World War Two so it resonated with me as my dad and other members of his family served in the RAF. In fact, I went to Wycliffe College, a boarding school in Gloucestershire, because of my family’s military connections. My love of the outdoors was definitely instilled there. I had some great outdoors experiences, including camping in the Grand Canyon.
What is the most important thing you have learned in the last five years?
Safety is paramount in the aviation industry and you are trained to communicate everything you see as the consequences could be fatal if you don’t. My professional experience has therefore taught me that it’s important to be open and transparent about what you are doing as a breakdown in communication could be a recipe for disaster. There is no such thing as a stupid question in the aviation industry!
If you could fly anywhere in the world for a meal, where would you go and why?
I’d take the next flight to Barbados and head to the Chilling and Grilling Beach Bar. As the name implies, it’s right on the beach, but it’s off the beaten track and not touristy at all. You can order fresh fish caught straight from the sea; in fact, the fishing boats are right there next to you. The food is as cheap as chips but absolutely delicious: I recommend the fish, the peas and rice, and the local beer. I always make a point of going where the locals go to eat and drink whenever I’m travelling abroad and I always avoid the touristy places. It’s a wonderful experience to absorb the local culture and meet the local characters. In Barbados, the locals don’t have much, by and large, they are not consumers in the way that we are in the UK, but they definitely know how to live a great life.
What was the model of your first computer and your first mobile phone, and what is your favourite piece of modern technology?
My first computer was a BBC. You know: the one that required enormous floppy discs. My first mobile phone was a Nokia 8110, otherwise fondly known as a Nokia banana phone.
Nowadays, I love cameras and I love flying drones. Of course, most drones have cameras attached to them so I get to combine two passions in one gadget. I’ve been known to do building inspections and thermal imaging with a drone and I particularly love taking a drone to the coast and getting some breathtaking shots of the coastline.
What was your least favourite subject at school and why?
I didn’t like Maths! It always took a while for me to get the gist of the lesson and it was always scheduled for the afternoon when everyone was tired and less attentive. I didn’t want to be in the classroom, I much preferred being outside. Geography was absolutely my favourite subject partly for this reason as we got to go walking in the mountains of Snowdonia National Park in Wales, learning about the area’s phenomenal geographical features.
Thank you George!