Winds of Change: The Rising Generation of Business Aviation

Brandon Steele - A young professional in the business aviation industry being mentored by Michael Barber.


Being a young professional in a new city comes with its adventures and challenges. Making new friends, exploring uncharted territories – it is all part of the thrill. It never fails that in every social gathering, one inevitable question takes the spotlight: “So, what do you do?” When I answer with, “I’m a private jet broker,” it is never what anyone my age expects to hear. I often inform them that it is a highly competitive industry and is not always as glamorous as it sounds. But let’s be honest: there are worse things to sell.


I like to think that a career in business aviation sought me out rather than the other way around. My first exposure to the industry came at the ripe age of fifteen when a close family friend offered me a job. She runs a small (in size, certainly not in revenue) charter brokerage from her home office. She needed extra help in her personal life, picking up her kids from school and taking them to gymnastics and arranging charters for ultra-high-net-worth individuals in her business. Two sides of the same coin, right?

I worked for her through high school and off-and-on throughout college when I needed extra cash. I had no intention of pursuing aviation any further than that. It was not until the pandemic hit and the industry I had initially planned to enter was stuck in a hiring freeze that I started exploring other options. With the help of a connection made in a beer league hockey locker room and a little persistence on my end, I began with Leviate Air Group as a charter broker and stayed in that role for 2 years before transitioning over to the sales and acquisitions side of the house. I find it funny how life can lead you down unexpected paths, only for you to look back and wonder how you could have done it any other way.


Most aviation professionals would agree that it is the people that we work with that keep us coming back to this grueling industry. It truly is 24/7/365, but I have learned that people within these hangars and boardrooms are not just colleagues, but a cohesive family. Networking events become more than mere professional gatherings – they are reunions filled with camaraderie and the exchange of insights that propel the industry forward.

Attending the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and International Aircraft Dealers Association (IADA) conferences and their respective YoPro events serve as constant reminders that our industry’s future is in capable and innovative hands. Conversations with fellow young professionals reveal a passion for pushing the boundaries of business aviation. Additionally, these conversations show a deep respect for the industry’s rich legacy. These gatherings are a hub of vibrant ideas, collaborative spirit, and a shared commitment to embracing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. As we exchange insights and forge connections, it becomes evident that the next generation of aviation leaders is well-equipped to steer the industry to new heights and ensure its continued prosperity.


Working alongside colleagues with illustrious histories can be intimidating. Their office walls are adorned with snapshots of encounters with former presidents, Fortune 50 CEOs, and a galaxy of celebrities. The depth of their knowledge and wealth of experience can sometimes feel like an insurmountable summit to scale. Many of the veterans in this industry have been doing this since before I was born.

Yet, rather than let the towering legacy deter me, I view it as an opportunity to infuse fresh energy and a new perspective into the esteemed ranks of business aviation. My generation owns an adeptness in navigating the digital landscape and our propensity for innovative thinking. We bring complementary skills that enhance the industry’s technological prowess and transform how we interact with and cater to clients’ needs. By embracing emerging technologies and harnessing the power of sustainable aviation fuels and data analysis, we are unlocking insights that can revolutionize operational efficiency, optimize routes, and deliver unprecedented personalization.


The future of business aviation gleams with boundless possibilities, largely thanks to the mentorship provided by industry elders. I consistently see seasoned professionals passing their expertise and insights on to the next generation. This encourages a continuous cycle of growth and innovation to take flight. This symbiotic relationship between experience and youthful enthusiasm ensures that the business aviation landscape remains dynamic and resilient. The bright future of this industry owes much to the genuine investment of wisdom and encouragement from its trailblazers. They are the ones that pave the way for a soaring tomorrow.