THE newest member of the Teesside Airport team has secured a role back in her home region, after spending three years at Manchester Airport.

Hayley Shields, from Stockton-on-Tees, was overjoyed to have landed the role as Business Development Manager at an airport she has a long connection to, that she 'broke the internet' with a Linkedin post that went viral.

The 26-year-old had always dreamed of a job in aviation, initially as a pilot, and took flying lessons at the then Durham Tees Valley Airport, before realising that it wasn’t for her.

She said: “I’ve known aviation has been my thing since I was very young. I pursued some pilot studies but when I did some flying I found it very isolating so I went down the academic route instead.”

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She added that attending Stockton Riverside College and then Teesside University for her courses was 'integral' to her current success, and praised her teaching team, including Teesside lecturer Susannah Mead, who she has remained close with. After studying further at York St John University, gaining a master’s degree in international business, and an internship in New York, she joined Manchester Airport in its graduate programme.

Hayley said: “I worked in various parts of the business, in customer service and experience, and I was seconded to look at the region’s relationship with China. I even got a chance to visit China just six months before the pandemic hit and when doing this I was fortunate enough to meet the Manchester Airport aviation team, which I then joined.”

During the pandemic, Hayley was furloughed and, as many others did, re-evaluated what was important to her, making the decision to leave Manchester and move back home to be with her family, fiancé and dogs when she heard about the opportunities at Teesside Airport.

She contacted the airport about any potential opportunities and, after a period of unemployment and a job at Darlington’s Amazon Fulfilment Centre, she was offered the role of Business Development Manager.

This led to a Linkedin post in which she praised and thanked Amazon, however also detailed how she was sat 'with tears in her eyes, feeling so low and like a failure' because her career hadn’t been going the way she thought it would – but celebrated her new role at Teesside Airport. The post clearly struck a chord with people and surprised Hayley with more than half a million views.

Now Hayley’s keen to get going, looking at how the airport can capitalise on and expand its cargo and freight offering and the Jet Centre to bring in more revenue and business opportunities, alongside other duties.

She said: “We used to fly from Teesside a lot when I was a child but then it began to lose routes and we had to go elsewhere. Now, with the investments made and the new routes secured, it’s like it’s got a rocket up its bum and will bring even more opportunities to the area. You can feel the positivity in the staff and the service. I’m really excited for what’s to come.

“My old mentor, Susannah, sent me a photo of an old college awards ceremony in 2014 where I won High Flyer of the Year. It was a nice trip down memory lane and great to reflect on – because the event was held at the airport!”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen visited the airport to welcome Hayley to the organisation.

He said: “We’ve already highlighted our mammoth recruitment drive, resulting in 47 new starters since the summer.

“We’re signing up well-known and brilliant local talent in the likes of Mohammed Ghafoor – Gaff – a much-loved face in our region and now our airport is also securing even more expertise from some of the UK’s biggest airports, Chloe Hanlon from London Heathrow and now Hayley from Manchester.

“That shows just how far we’ve come in the past couple of years and how we’re making Teesside the success it deserves to be. That people are actively seeking the chance to progress in their chosen careers right here, and bring their experience back to our region, rather than staying at other major airports says it all.

“I’ve no doubt Hayley will be another asset to our fantastic, growing team and I’m delighted she’s joining us in our efforts to bring the airport back into profit and grow it for the good of businesses and people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.”

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