20 Questions With Airbus Asia-Pacific President and UVA Darden Alumnus Anand Stanley
By Melissa Castro
University of Virginia Darden School of Business alumnus Anand Stanley (MBA ‘03) was appointed in July 2020 to run all of Airbus’ Asia-Pacific operations and business lines, including civil and military aircraft, helicopters, and satellite operations. He leads 4,000 employees and 20,000 subcontractors, and his region represents a quarter of Airbus’ global operations.
Stanley, who is based in Singapore, says the pandemic has forced him to become a bit of an “amateur virologist” as he has worked with governments, business leaders, suppliers and others to design approaches that balance safety and economics.
Prior to Airbus, he spent much of his career at United Technologies after a Darden grad hired him as a summer intern. Now, the former Darden social chair has changed seats to chair multiple industry advocacy organizations that represent the interests of the aerospace industry.
1. What was your first job?
I was a part-time nightclub and radio DJ.
2. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
To make your hobby your job.
3. Whom do you most admire?
My dad was an orphan from a small town in India and rose up to lead 250,000 employees in the Indian government. He taught me that you can be anything you want to be if you believe in yourself and you are willing to persevere.
4. What motivates you?
Crisis situations motivate me. Today, I’m really motivated to get planes back in the air and help my airline customers. I’m also preoccupied with helping governments reopen borders for air travel.
5. When and where do you do your best thinking?
My wife is my best friend and coach. So I get my best clarity when I debate ideas with her over a glass of wine or relaxing next to a pool.
6. What are you reading these days?
History inspires me. I have a few books I’m reading; for instance, Singapore — A Biography. The stories about explorers who risked everything give me inspiration for my own ventures.
7. What technology can you not live without?
I’m addicted to my iPhone. It’s my one-stop shop. I kind of wish I could live without it so I could be free for a bit.
8. What’s your motto?
I believe in the old Silicon Valley motto: “Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast.”
9. How do you deal with conflict?
I have been categorized as “leaning toward” conflict-seeking, because I think tension makes us better. Healthy conflict creates a sense of urgency, decisiveness and action.
10. What is your superpower?
I don’t have one; I’m just a mere mortal. My wife is Superwoman.
11. How do you unwind?
I enjoy unwinding with my kids, whether it is scouting, snorkeling, eating street food or the guilty pleasure of playing video games.
12. What is your favorite cause?
The plight of refugees and the displaced really moves me and my family. When we were living in Turkey, through our church, we provided about 10,000 blankets and shelter and food for Syrian refugees.
13. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
It’s been a self-fulfilling curse every time I’ve answered that question. My family loves it here in Singapore, and they’ve already warned me not to move again.
14. What do you lose sleep over?
Sleep was my first love, and we’re inseparable. I can take a nap anywhere. I give 150 percent each day and when I go to bed, I know I’ve done my best and I go to bed peacefully.
15. Which class at Darden impacted you the most?
I enjoyed Sherwood Frey’s “Quantitative Analysis” class the most, and it taught me how to make decisions in the midst of ambiguity, because even the quantitative world is not black and white.
16. What’s your favorite Darden memory?
My wedding, two years after graduation. We had 40 of my Darden classmates, professors and spouses there — my Darden family — and it was one of the most beautiful moments.
17. What have you learned managing Airbus Asia-Pacific through the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic?
It’s always a black swan event like COVID-19 that catches people off guard. Darden helped me see the 360-degree view. It’s not about having the answers; it’s about having intuition, awareness, and being agile and decisive enough to move quickly.
18. It’s a challenging time in the airline industry. What are you most optimistic about?
I am very optimistic that we will continue to be a global and connected world, which includes the continued travel and mobility of people. In countries such as India, only 2 percent of the population has ever set foot on a plane, which proves that aviation will continue to grow and it will continue to improve the quality of human life, especially in Asia-Pacific and Africa.
19. What does the future of the passenger aircraft look like? Are there game-changing new models or technology coming down the pipe?
The greatest challenges for aviation today are to reinvent itself in the digital world and to decarbonize the industry to help our planet heal. Airbus is working on concepts to launch a zero-emission hydrogen-powered aircraft.
20. Your career at Airbus recently led you to relocate from India to Singapore, and you worked all over the world prior to Airbus. Why have you pursued a global career?
On a personal note, I love traveling and experiencing new cultures. This led me to work in eight countries across four continents. Cross-cultural experience stretches you and gives you “dog years” of experience. I’ve always been risk-seeking and open to new opportunities, so intergalactic forces just moved me around and things fell in my lap.
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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