Helicopter Investor Q+A: Nigel Watson, chief executive, Luviair

In a new section for Helicopter Investor we quiz leading industry figures on what they enjoy about their job, their likes and pet hates, their ideal client and who would play them in a movie of their life. This week Nigel Watson, chief executive of superyacht helicopter specialist Luviair, faces the questions.

(1) What made you want to pursue a career in the Helicopter Investor industry?

My career has evolved over the years from service at sea and the management of seaborne aircraft in the luxury yachting industry to a shore-based role of advice and operational management of VIP helicopters. I have created a working in environment that allows me to continue to work with aircraft and the luxury yachting industry – two areas of life I have found fascinating and rewarding.

(2) Describe your ideal client.

One in which there is mutual respect and trust. As helicopter operators in the VIP helicopter business with a core operating interest of the luxury yachting industry, the need for trust is essential. I use an expression “we may disappoint you but potentially we may also save your life or the lives of those you care for”. They need to trust us.

(3) Who’s been your industry mentor, and why?

Captain Peter Jago (deceased). Cambridge scholar, choral scholarship, Royal Navy Phantom F4 pilot and Top Gun instructor, captain of Super yachts and a lot more.

Peter took me off a quay in the south of France close to thirty years ago when I was looking to break into the luxury yachting industry and gave me a chance. I was mouldable knew nothing about the industry but wanted to give it my best. He recognised this and over the next 12-years we built two superyachts together Golden Odyssey and Golden Shadow and I spent eight years circumnavigating the globe as the chief officer of Odyssey and captain of Golden Shadow.

I am grateful to this day and try to help others in a similar vein…

(4) Where is your ideal meeting venue, and why?

London remains a favourite for the centrality and diversity of the city. The hotels chosen by the Investor team always seem fit for purpose and welcoming. Needless to say I am sure it is the team at Investor that ensures that this happens. Outside London I would go to The States and Asia.

The West coast venues for Heli Expo (www.rotor.com) always gather a group of good people. It is an annual global conference so Anaheim, Las Vegas and Dallas, remain favourites. In Asia Singapore and Beijing remain memorable.

As a yacht show there is also a great nostalgia for the Monaco in September – networking and friends…

(5) What’s hot in Helicopter Investor industry and what’s not?

Technology throughout each category is fascinating and creates the interesting dynamic. The lines of design both in the air and on water are restricted by certification and history in terms of what has gone before. Developments in the product need to come from the inside, effecting performance or the personal experience. The need for continuing innovation to manage noise and pollution are drivers for the future.

This design innovation driven by creative people is HOT.

Legislation, bureaucracy, the lack of operational infrastructure to optimise the full potential of the machine remain areas which restrict growth in our industries. Not HOT.

(6) When has the Helicopter Investor sector been less than glamorous for you?

Unfortunately, this goes back to trust, which, when this is broken it makes things challenging. Deals done on a handshake that aren’t honoured, projects with lengthy legal contracts and negotiation are not glamorous. It has been said to me “If you want to be paid then you will have to sue me”. This is less than glamorous.

(7) Which industry buzzword would you ban?

I am not sure if it’s a buzzword but the expression “it’s just a touch and go Helipad” – in the context of a luxury yacht helipad.

As an industry we are flying some of the wealthiest people on the planet and not providing them with the with the same duty of care in terms of an on board landing facility as would be extended to a North Sea oil worker travelling to a rig by helicopter.

(8) Describe yourself in three words.

I would have said experience, integrity and innovative, then I heed [US President] Barrack Obama’s advice to his daughters “be kind and useful” I would take those two words as well as a sign of success.

(9) What’s your advice for people wanting to get into the Helicopter Investor sector?

Be passionate about what you do, enjoy our industry through good times and bad and embrace the technology of development, so as not to get left behind – and always be positive.

(10) Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life, and why?

Tom Hanks (Born July 1956 – Zodiac sign Cancer ) Nigel Watson (Born July 1957 – Zodiac sign Cancer )

Forrest Gump; Saving Private Ryan; Captain Philips; Apollo 13; Philadelphia; Bridge of Spies. These are iconic films I have always enjoyed.

Tom Hanks is creative, professional and has longevity. I hope I can continue in that vein as well.

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