Industry voices: The sky is not the limit

When Delphine Kennedy launched her own business during Covid it was all about timing – perhaps strange at first glance, but not when you take a deeper look. Now DBK Aero is delivering timely aftermarket solutions to airlines and aerospace traders worldwide

Are you crazy? Why would you do that? Are you sure you are capable? You have a perfect life with a good salary, why now? How will you do it? What if you don’t succeed?

These were some of the questions I got once I told a few friends and family about launching my own trading business.

Yes, go girl! You can do it! You are going to be so successful! You have all the connections and willpower to make it happen! Can’t wait to see you succeed! You are amazing! It can only work!

These were the affirmations I got once I told a few peers, colleagues and friends in the aviation business. It perfectly summarises our industry. Resilience, persistence and manifestation that, despite everything, we are going to make it to the other side and be better and prouder than ever.

So why am I launching my own business now? Some asked why I didn’t do it sooner, while some wondered why I would do it during Covid. Timing is everything. Two decades of working in this industry and in different areas of aviation made me the complete package I am today. Five years ago, I was not ready. I would have never thought I would be running my own business and moving into my own DBK warehouse just one year after my first deal.

It is tough starting from scratch, though, I won’t lie. It can feel pretty lonely too, but I am surrounded by amazing people that are helping me whenever I need it.

Running your own business is more than just making deals. It is thinking about insurance, banking, racking, wrapping, tooling, MRO… and finally trading. Multitasking has never been so necessary. Haemorrhaging money left and right is something to add to the stress too.

I believe that one of my strongest assets is my network. I started going to trade shows right at the start of my career, at a time when customers assumed I was the ‘coffee lady’, only for me to prove them wrong five minutes into a conversation. There were not many women in the industry at the time, 16+ years ago, which in hindsight was a blessing in disguise. It meant people would remember me, and they have grown with me.

Some of my biggest champions are my customers; suppliers I have met and worked with for nearly 20 years.

They have seen me through all stages of my life, including going to a trade show while eight months pregnant.

Aviation is still a very patriarchal industry, but it is changing. We need, as women, to stick together, and push each other forward and upwards, and squash this imposter syndrome.

My core values such as my integrity, loyalty, and efficiency make me someone you want to work with. And with DBK Aero I can do it on my own terms.

The UK aviation community is very strong, from Brighton to Scotland, and Cardiff to Southend. From that was born the Aviation Network Group (ANG), which is now live with its own WhatsApp group and website.

I know I can quickly ask the community for anything and there will always be someone who can help in some way, and vice versa. That is the strength of aviation and something I can rely on while debating which bank to do business with, which FX site is best, or where to buy anti-static bubble wrap.

One year in and I can say that I never imagined the rollercoaster of emotions that I would feel. The highs are super high, and the lows pretty low. There is always something new to learn and that is powerful. There have been plenty of ‘pinch me’ moments, including my first PO from a dear customer, or increasing my customer base with high end names, which I never thought would happen so quickly, or getting the key to my warehouse and moving into my own space with my own colours. It suddenly feels real.

So would I do it again? Yes! I don’t think I could go back. Everything I have done in my life led me to being my own boss. The recent nominations and articles, as well as new customers brought on board every day, make me so happy. I want to work on my own terms, be an inspiration for women and show that it can be done. If I can do it, then YOU can do it too.

I’m always flattered when being asked privately by peers – whether women or men – how they can change their career, how they can be the next best company. Believe in yourself. Surround yourself with like-minded people that will push you, criticise you, but mostly support you. Manifest everything you want to happen in your life. Give yourself a pat on the back and last but not least… celebrate. Celebrate every win, however little or big they are. Learn from your mistakes, which are part of an entrepreneur’s life, and stop making excuses. Today is a new day. The sky is NOT the limit.

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