Paul Wynns (MBA ’20) has been involved with aviation and aerospace throughout his entire life. His experience includes flying combat missions and managing aviation maintenance programs as a pilot in the U.S. Navy. As a civilian, his career focused on new product prototyping for military aircraft, where he led teams in cultures and business environments, ranging from startups to the world’s largest aerospace company.
1) Why did you choose to pursue an MBA?
I’m enrolled as a Full-Time MBA candidate because the next steps of my career won’t come from technical credentials, awards or certifications. I need access to communities and networks where I can stretch my collaborative skills and find like-minded colleagues across a diversity of technical and life experience backgrounds. I’m excited to share and learn with the other entrepreneurs and professionals in my cohort, and the Full-Time program provides the perfect environment for collaboration and relationship building.
2) Why did you choose the Rady School?
Rady’s culture of innovation and collaboration resonates strongly with me. My first job after leaving the military was with a defense startup working out of a facility in the back of a strip mall. A few years and two acquisitions later I found myself working for the world’s largest aerospace company. My experience in military, large and small business cultures showed me that innovation comes from diverse points of view.
3) What do you feel makes Rady unique? How do you benefit from these aspects?
Rady’s relative newness as a school allows it to be agile, responsive and forward-leaning in its approach to the MBA programs. Its connections to the local San Diego startup ecosystem are full of exciting opportunities for insight, mentorship and venture capitalist funding. I’ve taken on a position as CEO and president of an aviation training startup, Flex Air, that’s just emerged from its first round of seed funding. I’m eager to apply the lessons and resources that Rady offers toward building my startup. With Rady’s help, I want to create the next generation of commercial and military pilots that will lead us into the second century of aviation.
4) What classes are you looking forward to this year?
I’m really looking forward to the MBA Quantitative Analysis class. My last lap through graduate studies was as an engineering student more than 20 years ago! In the intervening time, the accessibility of statistical and quantitative analysis tools has grown so significantly that they can be used by managers at all levels, not just specialists. It’s exciting to think that deeply powerful, analytical decision aids can be applied directly to my startup using open-source tools.
5) How has your perspective on your career or your life changed since you came to Rady?
I graduated with my master’s degree in engineering at the height of the dot-com craze in the late nineties. It was an exciting time, but I didn’t take the time to cultivate relationships and networks after I graduated. My military career kept me busy, but I’m sure there were missed opportunities. This time I want to focus more on the people that I meet instead of the skills that I’ll acquire. Even after just a few weeks at Rady with my cohort, and a few meetings with the school’s network of supporters and faculty, I’m confident that my new focus is the right one.
6) What are your goals after graduation?
Humanity is entering its second century of aviation, and at a time when commercial air travel demand is larger than ever, our labor supply of qualified pilots for aircraft of all types is very challenged. Recent reports from The Boeing Company have shown that the Asia Pacific region will need more than 240,000 new pilots, while 127,000 will be needed in the North American market. Meanwhile, existing pilot workforces are approaching FAA-mandated retirement ages here in the U.S. There’s huge demand for innovative, agile aviation training that energizes and recruits talent from the Millennial and Generation Z communities. At Flex Air, I’ll continue building a team of aviation professionals, student pilots and investors that will serve this market and create the next generation of aviators.