With the changing world of work, not many millennials will be able to boast about working in one industry with only two companies over a career spanning 28 years. However, such is the dynamic nature of aircraft leasing that it encouraged David Swan to build a long-term career in the industry.
"I have a real sense of pride, being involved from the early days and working with so many talented individuals to help build and create what is now the global centre for aircraft leasing".
As chief operating officer (COO) of SMBC Aviation Capital, and also as chair of industry representative body, Aircraft Leasing Ireland (ALI), he is now focusing his energy into "giving back and driving positive change".
His ISTAT mandate was unique: he was the first Irish person to serve on the board of ISTAT when he was elected in 2011. "Given that Ireland had been the global centre of the aircraft leasing industry for decades, it was strange that there had never been an Irish person on the board," he says in an interview with Airfinance Journal.
Swan has become a prominent figure in initiatives aimed at supporting the global leasing industry as a whole. He was the founder and inaugural chair of Aircraft Leasing Ireland (ALI) and was appointed to the executive board of Financial Services Ireland in 2017. The desire to give the industry a united voice and avoid uncoordinated action on regulatory issues in the future was a major motivation behind Swan's efforts to bring the leasing community in Ireland together to establish its own dedicated industry body. "Irish lessors own and/or manage 65% of the global leased fleet and that has to be fostered by government initiatives and education programmes", he says. Declan Kelly, COO of GECAS; Patrick Blaney, Previously CEO of GPA, PWC's Yvonne Thompson and Tom Woods of KPMG all came board to support this initiative.
ALI's number of members has grown to 32 from 11 initially and all major lessors are now members. While ALI was set up primarily as a body to represent the sector on regulatory issues, Swan has broader aspirations for the association. He believes it can be a driver for education to train the next generation of lessors, encourage the wider adoption by the sector of technology and push for greater diversity and inclusion within the sector. The environment and sustainability will also be a critical area for action over the coming years.
Swan will pass the baton on next year. GECAS's Kelly will take over for a two-year period next summer and Orix's chief financial officer, Marie-Louise Kelly, will be the vice-chair of ALI. She will then be the face of the Irish-based aircraft leasing industry from 2022 to 2024.