Sandro Chiappe – Ensuring we always think like a pilot when developing Schedaero

22 Apr 2021

It takes a pilot to know a pilot, and Sandro Chiappe – Product Owner for Schedaero – is our secret weapon when creating the best flight operations platform on the market. Sandro explains what made him swap the cockpit for our product team, the importance of a good mentor, and why we never need to worry about compliance when he is around.

So, Sandro, you started out as a pilot

That’s right. I’ve always had a passion for airplanes, so I decided to go to flight school. I flew cargo for 135 operators for about three years and then flew 121 operations for American Eagle for another three years, based out of Chicago.

What made you leave the flying life behind?

It was the lifestyle, really. I would only be at home for around eight day a month, and the rest of the time I was in hotels. I didn’t want to keep doing that.

I attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and studied Aviation Safety and Aeronautical Science, so I always thought I would be a pilot. But when the opportunity presented itself to change direction, I took it. I knew that if I didn’t make the change it would be much harder the older I got, and it’s worked out well.

What was your first role outside the cockpit?

I took a job as a Product Specialist with a maintenance software company. I got the chance to spend a couple of months working in Spain on a pilot app project, which was great. I was working with the pilots, implementing the software with the mechanics, talking to different customers and getting a greater understanding of process, so it was a really rewarding experience.

When I came back from Europe it felt like the right time to take the next step and grow somewhere else. I came across Avinode, I did the interview, and it seems that they liked me.

I’m not surprised. It must be invaluable having a pilot on the team

I think so. I tell our customers all the time, I’ve been on both sides and I can put myself in their position. I understand the difference we make to their lives.

When I was flying the 135, I did a lot of things that we now implement on Schedaero. I wish I had it back then. I would have loved the pilot app where I could log my duty rather than having to go to a hanger and physically write my times down.

That understanding has helped me build great relationships with Chief Pilots and Directors of Operations in the past year when I was support on the implementation team. They still call me now even though my job has changed, but that’s ok because I can ask them questions about a product or to test something and they’re always there.

How did you end up in your current role?

When I joined Schedaero there was a push to build industry knowledge on the product team, so while working as an Implementation Specialist I would work together with them. John Hibbard involved me in a lot of stuff and has become a mentor for me, guiding me in my career. He’s been so supportive.

I was helping his team with regulations and research and when the position opened for a Product Owner, John told me about it, and I went through the interview process. I really wanted the job and even studied to earn my Product Owner certification. That’s how serious I was.

There’s no denying the benefit of a good mentor

That’s so true. I don’t think it’s easy to find great mentors in companies these days and I’ve been incredibly lucky to have that. Avinode as a group is really supportive. From the start of my time in the business I’ve been allowed to take ownership and given the freedom to run with my ideas, expand myself and contribute to the team.

And do you still find time to fly?

I still have my license and I’m a current FAA Certified flight instructor, so every now and then I’ll do some instructing, but the pandemic has halted that for now.

Even when I’m not flying I still love reading regulations. That’s why Schedaero is so compliant because I’m a nerd for those! A lot of my classes at Embry were around aviation safety, creating reports and understanding how accidents happen, so I’m really into that.

I try and make time for sports too and I’m currently training for an Ironman Half. I’m also super close with my family and I love cooking, so there’s always plenty going on.         

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