Life as the Air Battlespace Training Centre’s New Operations Director

There have been a number of personnel movements recently in our Synthetic Training Team.

Bob Chevli, our previous Head of Division, has returned to a delivery role at the Air Battlespace Training Centre (ABTC), with Paul ‘Flash’ Bolton being promoted from the role of ABTC Operations Director to Division Head to carry on Bob’s brilliant work.

This, of course, left some very big shoes to fill at the ABTC. After an open competition, with a number of fantastic candidates from across Inzpire being interviewed for the role of Operations Director, it was decided that Richard ‘Tats’ Tattersall would be promoted from his role of Counter Air SME.

Tats joined Inzpire in February 2009 and has worked in the ABTC ever since. Before that, he served 23 years in the Royal Navy as a Lt Cdr, classing his greatest achievement as completing Carrier Qualification on both VSTOL aircraft in the Sea Harrier and conventional carrier landings in the F/A-18 Hornet with the US Navy.

Our Marketing Communications Manager Becki caught up with Tats to see how he was settling in to his new role.

Becki: What are the main differences between the roles of Counter Air Subject Matter Expert and Operations Director?

Tats: The main difference that I have had to become accustomed to is that rather than being directly involved in the delivery of training, my main role now is to make sure that we have all the right people in the right place, to make sure that the customer is happy and that the training gets delivered to the standard they expect.

As well as having to make sure that our training delivery is as good as it can be, I’m now having to deal with things such as annual leave and finances as a Line Manager. I need to make sure that with our Unlimited Leave policy that our team has enough time away from work with their families whilst still maintaining our contractual obligations to our customer.

I’m also finding that I’m receiving many more emails both from within Inzpire and from our customers so I come in a little earlier in the morning to get my inbox up to date before any Exercises start.

Becki: What challenges have you come across?

Tats: The biggest challenge for me has been letting go of involvement in missions and being the Subject Matter Expert. I’m having to sit back and let the boys do their jobs. I keep thinking “this is my job I can do this bit” but it isn’t my job anymore; I need to make sure that I am overseeing the whole training experience for our customers.

I used to ask Flash (Paul ‘Flash’ Bolton, previous Operations Director) a lot of questions and sought his advice, so now I have to do what I think is best for the customer – I am doing the role that Flash used to do so I am now the one that people come to for advice.

I’ve also found that I need to have an understanding now of what is coming up in the future, not just in the ABTC but the industry as a whole; I need to be forward-thinking to make sure that our training delivery and skills are as innovative as they can be.

Becki: What does the average day look like in your new role?

Tats: I have to get in a little bit earlier than I used to so I have to make the most of the quiet times to get the admin side of the management done. My first job is to check the day’s programme to make sure nothing has cropped up that might affect the delivery of our training, and that all of our team are in work and able to carry out their SME roles.

Once I know that all of the right people are in the right places then the programme runs as usual; I oversee the whole programme, and I spend considerable time walking around the various emulators checking the progress of the exercise.

I spend a lot of time talking to our customers to make sure that our exercise delivery is what they are expecting. I have daily meetings with the ABTC Tech Lead and OC ABTC to provide opportunities for feedback.

I also need to look at potential opportunities for how to utilise the ABTC, so I make sure I keep as up to date as possible with current industry trends.

Becki: How did your previous role as Counter Air SME prepare you for your new role as Ops Director?

Tats: The skills I used every day as the Counter Air SME didn’t directly prepare me to be the Ops Director, but working in this environment for 9 years, living and breathing synthetics and simulation meant I was well prepared generally.

The fact I’ve been part of the team for so long meant I was comfortable with how we deliver training and being constantly engaged with our training audiences meant I had a pretty solid idea what the customer needed. I’d worked under Bob and Flash as Ops Directors so I had a good understanding of what the role entailed and how I would need to interact with the team and customer.

Everyone I work with here is a friend so it helped when I transitioned as the team here is so tight. Of course, with that comes the expected banter and I’ve had to put up with their jokes now I am the Boss!

Click here to find out more about Inzpire’s Synthetic Training and Simulation Division.