Ashley P. Thorsen '02 is reaching new heights after achieving a special honor in the aviation community. She was recently named to the 2022 Airport Business Top 40 Under Forty List!
Ashley is currently the operations manager at South Bend International Airport. She started her aviation career as an intern at the Raleigh-Durham International Air Traffic Control Tower. At the same time, she was working on her associate's degree in air traffic and aviation management from Hampton University and getting her student pilot's license. Completing her degree and eventually becoming an air traffic controller was a dream of Ashley's, and she got the ticket to Oklahoma City to complete the FAA's training program in 2015.
However, things didn't go as planned. An evaluation that didn't end in Ashley's favor landed her back in Raleigh, starting from square one. That's when a fellow classmate from Oklahoma, who also didn't get through the academy, talked with Ashley about the RDU ramp tower and how it was like air traffic control. From that interaction, Ashley immediately contacted the manager of the tower and landed herself a job. She was quickly promoted to a supervisor position. Eventually, Ashley made the transition to RDU's operations team as an operations officer, where she helped develop a strong teamwork and culture within the organization, exceeded her daily duties on the airfield and led multiple projects. In one of those projects, Ashley partnered with American Airlines to improve the remain overnight parking system for the Terminal 1 ramp. It benefitted the properties department and helped with record keeping.
Ashley said she loved Raleigh, but when she saw an opportunity to advance her career as the operations manager at South Bend International Airport, she took it. In addition to her day-to-day work at SBN, she is a leader of several initiatives, including Aviation Education Day, the safety management system and the employee appreciation committee. Ashley is also a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives, an Airport Cooperative Research Program contributor and a member of Women in Aviation and The Ninety-Nines.
In the community, Ashley works alongside the Ronald McDonald House and Girls on the Run charities. Through Leadership South Bend Mishawaka, she completed the Emerge program and was also recognized by Visit South Bend Mishawaka as a face of tourism for engagement in the community.
Ashley's love for aviation started as kid, when she flew with her family to Navy bases around the world, traveling with her dad. At a young age, this inspired Ashley's passion to work in the industry and remain around aircraft.
"Every day is different, every problem is diverse and working as a team to find the solution and seeing a plan come to fruition is the coolest, especially when it impacts the people who travel daily through my airport," said Ashley, who holds a Master of Science in aerospace and aviation management from Purdue University.
Her hope is that people view her as an optimistic person, always looking to make a positive impact.
"Any type of negative thing that I've approached in my entire life, I've always tried to put an encouraging spin on it and make people feel invested and important in anything they do. I can't be a good leader without my team and without all the ideas from all the people that work for me. So, just knowing that I build people up personally and professionally to get them where they want to go makes me happy. It makes me feel like I've done my job well."
A personal goal of Ashley's is to travel to all 30 professional baseball stadiums. She's been to 26 so far.
AviationPros.com first published Ashley's profile. Congratulations to Ashley!