Our founding team

In 2018, our founding directors came together as a team to create a new kind of flight training academy. Between them, they have more than 200 years’ experience in aviation and pilot training, and they felt it was time to do things differently and take training to the next level. They wanted to use their experience to build a new academy with a fresh approach, where students always come first.

Andy McFarlane

Chief Executive Officer

 

At Leading Edge Aviation, two things really bring us all together as a team. The first is that we are all passionate about aviation, and the second is that we all want to shake up the industry, by putting people first and transforming the way students learn. I was bitten by the bug of aviation when I was just seven years old. For me, the passion started with my very first flight while in the Air Cadets. I went on to have a distinguished and successful 25 year career in the RAF where I held a number of roles and retired as a Wing Commander in 2009. During my RAF service, I met and worked with two members of the Leading Edge team. When I left the RAF, I joined CAE Oxford Aviation Academy as Centre Manager, and it was there that I met the rest of the team.

Once I had brought the whole team together, we quickly realised that we had a shared vision and really enjoyed working together. It was clear to us that, together, we could change the industry. We’ve spent a long time planning how we will realise our dream. We work hard and have the highest of standards that students and airlines should expect. We’ve brought in cutting-edge tech and have built a supportive and exciting environment. Together, we’ve created something amazing.

 

My ambition for Leading Edge Aviation

I want to create an academy that leads the way in aviation training by using the latest technologies, employing inspirational and dedicated staff, and offers an inclusive and enjoyable learning experience.

Stephen Rees

Head of Training

 

One of the great things about working for Leading Edge Aviation is the fact that I have known and worked with all the senior team at one stage or another throughout our various careers and I count them all as personal friends. Our shared vision for the training industry became apparent very quickly after we’d met and, when Andy asked me to be part of the team, I jumped at the chance!

I joined Oxford Aviation Academy (OAA) and worked overseas in Arizona and Texas, before returning to Oxford. I needed to know what it was like to be an airline pilot and so I joined Flybe where I flew the Dash8-Q400 and eventually made it to the left-hand seat as a Captain. However, I missed the hustle and bustle of the training environment and was offered the position as Head of Training back at OAA where I stayed for some years before joining CTC (L3) as their Head of Training.

My ambition for Leading Edge Aviation is for us to become the most respected and professional training provider in the industry, and for us to continue to strive for the best whilst always thinking of the student.

Stephen Rees

Head of Training

 

One of the great things about working for Leading Edge Aviation is the fact that I have known and worked with all the senior team at one stage or another throughout our various careers and I count them all as personal friends. Our shared vision for the training industry became apparent very quickly after we’d met and, when Andy asked me to be part of the team, I jumped at the chance!

I joined Oxford Aviation Academy (OAA) and worked overseas in Arizona and Texas, before returning to Oxford. I needed to know what it was like to be an airline pilot and so I joined Flybe where I flew the Dash8-Q400 and eventually made it to the left-hand seat as a Captain. However, I missed the hustle and bustle of the training environment and was offered the position as Head of Training back at OAA where I stayed for some years before joining CTC (L3) as their Head of Training.

My ambition for Leading Edge Aviation is for us to become the most respected and professional training provider in the industry, and for us to continue to strive for the best whilst always thinking of the student.

Katie Broadhurst

Chief Talent Officer

 

I first met Andy, our CEO, in 2012. He interviewed me at CAE Oxford Aviation Academy for a job that, I later found out, he had no intention of giving me. In fact, he just liked my CV and wanted to persuade me to take another role that didn’t even exist at that point—that of HR Business Partner. It was a chance meeting, but one that led to me working with Andy and other talented and dedicated individuals, that years later, would come together to form Leading Edge Aviation.

This role gave me the chance to put my degree in HR to good use and build on the experience I’d developed in over 20 years across some diverse and challenging industries, including Vodafone and PDSA. It was the easiest career decision of my life to join the Leading Edge Aviation team. We’re all passionate about putting people first, and I’m making it my mission to put our cadets and our employees at the heart of every decision we make. I want to create a place where everybody is supported and motivated, has the opportunity to be the best they can be, and offers more than just a career but also a little bit of fun along the way.

 

My ambition for Leading Edge Aviation

To go beyond traditional learning. It’s not just about making cadets ‘exam ready’ but preparing them for life in and beyond the flight deck. To be mentally and physically adept to deal with a demanding yet rewarding career in aviation.

Olivia Warren

Chief Finance Officer

 

I first started working with the rest of the Leading Edge Aviation team while I was the Global Finance Manager at CAE Oxford Aviation Academy. One thing that brought us together was a passion to bring the ‘family feel’ back to aviation training. That’s really important to me. The thing I love most about my role is building relationships with the cadets and helping support them with their finances, so they can focus on their training and becoming the best pilots they can be. My career has taken me all over the world, including a stint in Australia setting up the finance function when Oxford Aviation Academy took on a new training site. I’ve been in the industry long enough to see what works and what doesn’t. I know that our strong team spirit, our focus on putting cadets first, and bringing in new tech and learning approaches will really give this academy the edge.

 

My ambition for Leading Edge aviation

I strive to reduce the main barrier to entry for the cadets, which is financing the training. I’d like to help make it easier for cadets to get access to funding, and one day help to make pilot training VAT-free.

Jeremy Bolduc

Chief Information Officer

 

My career started in the US Air Force. I was based in the UK and Italy and moved back to the UK in 1996, where I started my career in IT. I joined Oxford Aviation Training in 2001, helping to build up the training centres in Oxford, Phoenix and Melbourne as the business grew. Then when CAE acquired the business, I became its Global IT Director.

At Leading Edge Aviation, we have the chance to create something totally new. I’m looking at ways to bring in things like Mixed Reality, Neuro Training and mobile-first tech. Teamwork is vital to embracing these kind of changes and making them happen, which is why it’s so fortunate that everyone in our team has known each other for such a long time and we are able to plan this adventure together. We all share the same goal of improving the experience, and relish the opportunity to create something from scratch; something that wasn’t inherited. Together we’re tapping into our creative sides to build a fit-for-purpose academy without restrictions. That means we can focus on partnering with the airlines to create the best pilots in the skies—pilots who will be proud to have trained with us.

 

My ambition for Leading Edge aviation

One of my goals is to use mixed reality technology to enhance the learning experience both in the ground school and flying phases.

Dave Alexander

Chief Operations Officer

 

Leading Edge Aviation is a great team of like minded people. Becoming a pilot is not an ambition people feel ambivalent about – it’s their dream job, and so we want to provide the very best pathway to achieving that.

Joining the team is a great opportunity for me to get back into overseeing flight operations and a chance to improve the way commercial flying training is conducted. We are all striving to do our best for our students who are undertaking a very demanding training course.

I first learned to fly thanks to an Air Training Corps scholarship and went on to have a 26 year career in the RAF as pilot and instructor on the C130 Hercules, Bulldogs and Tutors.

After retiring from the RAF as a Wing Commander, I joined Ascent Flight Training where I assisted with running the UK Military Flying Training System (UK MFTS), overseeing the introduction of 3 new types and associated training systems, including synthetic devices and syllabi. I then moved to Lockheed Martin, contributing to other Military Flying Training systems, including Australia, Canada and Singapore, whilst continuing to assist on UK MFTS.

My two steps sons both now fly for British Airways and joined through their Future Pilot Programme. Their path through training gave me an invaluable insight into commercial pilot training  – both as a professional and as a parent! At Leading Edge we are giving our student pilots the best training experience we can as they prepare for a successful career.

 

My  ambition for Leading Edge Aviation

My ambition for Leading Edge is to provide a modern approach to training that really puts the student at centre of all we do – be it completing their training on time, teaching them in the manner they expect or preparing them for their future career by offering them experiences outside of the ‘mandated’ syllabus of training.

Andi Alexander

Chief Commercial Officer

 

As a child I loved airports and I loved flying. Plus living near Brize Norton it seemed inevitable I would end up working in aviation. Since 2001 I’ve worked with planes, trains and boats and when I first arrived at London Oxford Airport I instantly wanted to be part of the airport team and all that the surrounding aviation community had to offer.

In 2010 I joined the Airport as Head of Finance. I became Managing Director in 2012 and added the London Heliport in 2015. I  began working with some of the Leading Edge team when I first arrived at the Airport and, realising we had aligned core beliefs and standards, strong working relationships developed from there.

I am proud to be part of Leading Edge Aviation. It’s a company with a strong vision and many talents, where everyone is happy to go to work each day.

 

My ambition for Leading Edge Aviation

I am excited for the future of Leading Edge and want to help progress and develop the company into all that I know it can be.