GUTMA – a time for new leadership and new aspirations

Eszter Kovacs is the newly appointed Acting Secretary General for the Global UTM Association (GUTMA). She has 10+ years experience in technology and 4 of those years with associations as part of GSMA. Eszter has spent her career in multinational companies, focusing on digitalization and telecommunication industries as well as technical innovation and the drone sector. This experience, combined with certification in Agile coaching, Prince2 and a broad professional network, inspired her to launch her start-up, Manageld ltd. As CEO of Manageld, she has contributed to the growth of several multinational companies drones programs, led implementations, mentored, and advised their leaders regarding strategic planning, operational improvement, and coaching best practises.

She shared with ATM Magazine some initial thoughts regarding her new challenge.

Q – As our audience is primarily looking at the topic of Air Traffic Management, can you please explain how GUTMA works with Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs)?

A – We currently have nine ANSPs at GUTMA, 11,4 % of our members are ANSPs. We have also just welcomed Michelle Bennetts, Executive General Manager of the Australian Airways as one of our newly elected members of the board. At GUTMA we have reserved seats on our board for ANSPs and Regulators to ensure adequate representation. We find it crucial that all ecosystem voices are heard, and we work with an open approach with everyone.

Q – In June, you have hosted a webinar with the FAA and EASA, can you discuss for our readers the topics that have been addressed during this discussion?

A – The webinar was a GUTMA members only high-level session and was very well received by more than 70 of our members who attended. There was a clear need from the UTM ecosystem to better understand the current status of EU and FAA regulations, and as the global UTM association we had to react! I find it vitally important to stress the importance of establishing two-way communication platforms. The regulators should listen to the industry, but the industry should also be closely following the regulators and contribute and collaborate. I believe that none of the regulators can create the right environment if they are isolated. Discussions must be fostered. This is why we created an interactive “ask the expert” session instead of a one-way type of approach. The webinar featured presentations and a question-and-answer session with Maria Algar Ruiz, Drones Programme Manager at the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Jay Merkle, Executive Director, UAS Integration Office at the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Q – If more ANSPs wanted to get involved in GUTMA membership/activities, can you explain how they would go about doing so?

A – We would warmly welcome any new ANSPs to join.  Our membership onboarding is a very straightforward and easy to follow process.  A new candidate member should familiarize themselves with our articles of association which can be found here. Upon a decision to join the association, they can apply by simply completing a form that can be found here. Following a short intro meeting with the GUTMA team and the candidate, the GUTMA secretariat makes a recommendation to the board regarding the potential new members. Following a positive board decision, the new candidate members are onboarded.

Q – How membership would benefit an ANSP?

A – A GUTMA membership creates value in several different ways. From a technical perspective, members can benefit from the possibility to join existing or propose new working groups to tackle harmonization challenges not addressed elsewhere. Members also benefit from collaborations with other associations such as GSMA and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).  With ASTM, members receive a one-year free membership and the possibility to join their numerous working groups. GUTMA members can also join the Aerial Connectivity Joint Activity (ACJA) with GSMA. Another pillar of our value proposition is marketing and communication. Members can leverage the ever-growing MarCom initiatives of GUTMA such as the webinars, the newsletter as well as our initiative to promote members such as the “meet our members”. Last, but not least, participation to our annual conference and general assembly provides a great opportunity to engage with the brightest minds in the UTM ecosystem.

Q – In December of last year, GUTMA announced a partnership with the GSMA to address the future of aerial connectivity (ACJA).  Could you please expand on the goal of this initiative and activities to date?

A – ACJA focuses on promoting interchange and understanding between the aviation and cellular communities, the purpose being to enhance information sharing and avoid incompatibilities between those groups. Until now, the two communities have mostly investigated the topic independently, leading to a misalignment of understanding, expectations, priorities, and standards.

We have more than 100 members in this project from GSMA and GUTMA members, which shows that there is a great deal of interest from both the aviation and cellular communities in aerial cellular. The creation of such a platform for the relevant stakeholders was a must from the aviation and mobile industries to share their respective views. ACJA was formed to make tangible progress towards addressing this misalignment through several initiatives:

  • Educating stakeholders on the relevant standards, making sure the contributors to Standard Development Organizations (SDO) in each field are aligned in terms of understanding capabilities, and needs of the other communities;
  • Identifying potential synergies between the different SDO’s that could benefit from the use of cellular networks in UTM, UAS and manned aviation.

Currently the ACJA has four working groups, collaborating on:

  • Cellular Standard Coordination
  • Supplementary Data Services
  • Cellular Connectivity Profile Minimum Operational Performances Specification (MOPS)
  • Minimum Aviation System Performances Standards (MASPS).

Membership in ACJA Is free for GSMA and GUTMA members. More information can be found here

Q – Can you explain what your new role with GUTMA entails?

A – As acting secretary general of GUTMA, my primary responsibility is to ensure a smooth transition and support the association in the onboarding of the permanent secretary general. The GUTMA board believes that our priority is to make the right choice to ensure long term stability for the association. Also crucial to my role will be to execute the strategic decisions of the board.

The board have also asked me to leverage my skills as a certified agile coach to optimize the association`s operational processes and procedures and to modernize the supporting infrastructure. Another area of focus will be collaborations. I plan on revamping existing agreements such as those with ASTM and GSMA by increasing engagement and knowledge sharing between respective members. I will also be engaging with other associations to establish new and fruitful relationships.

Additionally, I will also focus my attention to consolidate the successes of this year`s efforts on Marketing and Communication. We will strengthen our outreach activities and organize new and compelling webinars to respond to our members needs. It will be an interesting time for sure!

Q – As a woman in a field heavily populated with men, how do you see the opportunity to bring about more diversity or get more young women involved in these topics?

A – Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion practices when applied successfully in any workplace bring in different experiences, expectations, styles, and perspectives which lead to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes. I believe that all of these differences are a source of strength and innovation when addressed and managed the right way. As a leader of an association, my responsibility is to create an innovative hub for members to collaborate and interact. Education is also key to inclusion and I believe that our initiatives this year were inspirational to many. The most diverse organizations are usually the most innovative, so diversity is a powerful weapon. Inclusion is the key to growth!

I believe the world can be changed not by words but by powerful and inspirational examples. In my life I have had to grow and develop myself from the somehow harsh reality of a small village near Budapest, Hungary, to now living in London, being a CEO of my own consulting agency, Manageld. To now be at the wheel of such a prestigious association like GUTMA is incredible. I have no special talents other than determination and trust in myself and my abilities. If I could do it, anyone can do it as well!

Ultimately, we are building a future with products, services, and environments that people with very diverse backgrounds will use. How could we achieve this successfully without a diverse leadership and team?