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Practitioner’s Profile: Lifting Off with Brian Barnes

As a part of our practitioner profile series, Veoci is highlighting key members of our staff who are or have been emergency management (or industry) practitioners. This select group of employees have helped to pave the way for Veoci’s innovative and flexible solutions. Brian Barnes, a member of the Veoci Aviation team, is no exception.

Brian Barnes’ easygoing nature and quick wit make him an extremely likable person, but beyond his charismatic persona lies a person of great substance.

Brian has lived a life full of adventure and discipline, which has instilled in him a strong work ethic and respect for the field of emergency management, and has ultimately led him to become the Aviation Client Success Manager at Veoci.

High Flying Ambitions

Since he was two years old, Brian knew that he wanted to be a pilot. Airplanes were a passion that his father helped him pursue and that his uncle, a military fighter pilot, helped cultivate. Brian got his pilot’s license at 16, before he even got his driver’s license, and so began his forty year career in aviation.

Brian got his start instructing at a small airport. After building experience, he applied for and was selected to the Massachusetts Air National Guard (MAANG) and attended USAF pilot training. There he served as a part time pilot while working full time flying for United Technologies and Hawaiian Airlines.

After those steps, he accepted a full time active duty position within the Air Guard in Baltimore MD. During his 28 years, he served four Air National Guard Units. He also attended the USAF Fighter Weapons School and served a three year tour at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. participating in career broadening programs. Throughout his career, he was fortunate enough to meet some incredible mentors and friends who helped shape his life.

Eventually, Brian was able to retire from The Air National Guard as a Wing Commander and the Senior Ranking Ops Officer in the state of Connecticut. But this was not the end of Brian’s career. After retiring from the military, Brian became an airport manager where he met the Veoci team as one of the initial airport clients.

From these experiences, Brian has learned that one of the keys to success is to listen to people who have wisdom to impart. He would ask as many questions as he could of the men and women he looked up to, and then process their advice and apply it to his situation and personality.

“I have learned that we all don’t process things the same way,” Brian says, “so you have to take as much information from as many people you can and then apply it in a way that fits you”. Brian realizes that sometimes it takes some people longer to put the pieces together, but as long as you’re working together and respecting each other things have a way of coming together in the end.

Reflections of a Career

Although his career was full of incredible moments, Brian identifies a few points as being the most formative. Fighter Weapon School stands out in his mind because it was such a challenge.

At this school Brian learned how to admit that he couldn’t do everything on his own and that it was okay to accept help from others. He also learned the importance of networking and how it could have such a positive impact throughout a person’s career.

Officer School was also a period in time that was very formative for Brian. Having been born and raised in a small Massachusetts town, this was Brian’s first exposure to true diversity. He met numerous people from varying cultures and backgrounds and realized that “everyone has something special to offer.” Our differences don’t matter; it’s how we use our unique talents to help others and to become part of a team.

However, things weren’t always easy for Brian. He encountered obstacles throughout his career, just as all people do. He identifies his largest obstacle as fighting a lack of formal education. Although he earned over 110 college credits, held an associate degree, and completed all Professional Military Education (PME) courses, Brian never obtained his Bachelor’s degree.

He met opposition from employers and military officials who questioned why they should give him a job or a promotion, but this only motivated Brian to excel. He overcame the questions about his education by proving himself through hard work. He recognized that no matter what your educational background is, we all need help at some point. The key to success is being a good listener, hard worker and to always pursue excellence.

But Brian also had his share of fun during his years on the job. He laughs as he recalls a memory from his early flying days:

When he flew corporate, Brian would have to perform flight attendant duties when he wasn’t Pilot in Command on specific flights. On one occasion, the CEO of United Technologies was on board.

The CEO liked his bottles of wine opened in a particular way, a method which Brian failed miserably at, prompting him to break the cork into a $1000 bottle of wine and spill the wine on the boss, his wife, and the associates sitting at the table.

Needless to say, the guests were not amused. Brian’s friends naturally found the whole ordeal hilarious. “The things you don’t expect to happen when you’re flying an airplane,” Brian chuckles.

Honorary Emergency Manager

Although Brian has never held the title of “emergency manager,” emergency management is something he is very familiar with. It was an integral part of his military experience, and he handled emergency management operations as an airport manager.

“Emergency management can have an enormous impact,” Brian says, “when you do your job as an emergency manager you make a difference in people’s lives. The whole point is to manage an emergency from the perspective of helping people and being there for people in times of crisis. Our job is to minimize that crisis.”

Having flown search and rescue missions in the Iraq war, Brian knows how meaningful it is to directly impact the lives of people who are in harm’s way. The premise of emergency management has always been a part of his career journey, and he says that in order to be a successful emergency manager, “People must always be the biggest factor.”

It’s obvious that Brian’s approach to emergency management is people-centric. He understands that you can have the greatest plan in the world, but at the end of the day the test of a successful response is that people are better off as a direct result of your process. The software and the process need to take their rightful place as supporting tools, but not be the primary focus.

The Future of Emergency Management

Brian joined Veoci as the Client Success Manager for the Aviation vertical. His job is to work with current clients on software implementation and help them best utilize Veoci to ensure the platform meets their organizational requirements while streamlining their operations.

Having been in the world of aviation for over forty years, Brian has seen many emergency management processes come and go. He remembers communicating via walkie talkies, landlines, and even physical runners who would deliver messages on foot!

Brian is blown away by the technology that Veoci brings to the table. “Everything is lightning fast,”he says. “You can pull information from limitless areas. It’s all internal and you can invite people in, so everybody has an awareness of what’s happening in real time.”

The ease of resource requests is another feature that Brian highlights in Veoci, but ultimately the best part of the software is the amount of time it can save in the busy life of an emergency manager.

People-Centric Approach

As Brian ushers in his future with Veoci, emergency management is also striving to meet the goals of the future. Technology can help alleviate some of the strain of the job, and as Brian said, make it more people-centric.

Veoci is thrilled to have such a well-rounded, team-oriented employee in our midst. Brian Barnes has lived a life full of adventure, and now his journey continues with us. The wisdom and charisma he brings to the table will surely benefit the numerous Aviation clients under his command.

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