What We’re Made Of: Craig Foster, Valour Consultancy


Craig Foster, Valour Consultancy, with some of his home office’s most frequent visitors.

What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail editor@apex.aero.

Craig Foster
Senior Consultant and Cofounder, Valour Consultancy
Location: Colsterworth, England
Working from home since December 21, 2012
Date of writing: April 14, 2020

Where are you writing from?
I’m writing from my home in a small countryside town called Colsterworth, which is famous for being the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton. In fact, THE apple tree is a stone’s throw from my house.

How are you trying to maintain “business as usual” or communicating with your team?
All of the Valour team are working remotely from home, although that’s not actually unusual for us. Being geographically dispersed with locations on two continents, we’re accustomed to using software like Teams to communicate and keep each other up to date.

RELATED: Valour Consultancy Looks Ahead With Queen’s Award and Post-Pandemic Predictions

Have you or anyone you know been directly affected by COVID-19?
Thankfully not.

What news outlets are you following?
Too many to name. I try to take in the widest range of viewpoints on any given topic to draw my conclusions.

“The longer this goes on, the more airlines will run out of liquidity leading to bankruptcies, nationalization or consolidation causing a huge change in the industry landscape.”

How are you passing time?
I am currently in the midst of cultivating what I hope will end up being a rather splendid lockdown beard. My fellow Valour Consultancy cofounders, Daniel and Josh, are doing likewise, but it’s too early to say who’ll emerge victorious. I’m also spending a fair bit of time attempting to repair various household items that have fallen victim to our incredibly mischievous beagle, Penny.

Describe where your business was at the end of 2019. What were your goals/projections for 2020?
We had another fantastic year in 2019, successfully expanding our coverage into business aviation, enhancing our reputation in the maritime industry and strengthening existing relationships in our core commercial aviation segment. Our goals for 2020 are largely unchanged in that we’re still intending to roll out major improvements to our popular quarterly IFC and IFE trackers and develop some brand new research reports. Generally speaking, we’re continuing to assist clients by answering questions about the market and what the post-pandemic world might look like.

What challenges has your business faced as a result of the outbreak?
Almost as soon as it became apparent that the aviation industry was going to be massively impacted by the outbreak, one of our key clients pulled the plug on a project we were about halfway through. Luckily, upon seeing the quality of the work we submitted, the client decided to reinitiate the project, which was a fantastic endorsement of the hard work and effort our team had put in.

Any tips on how to remain productive under these new circumstances?
As someone that has worked from home for the last eight years, I like to think I’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge on how to remain productive amid the many distractions that exist in the house. My top three tips would be:

  • Get yourself a good quality pair of headphones and bang on one of the dedicated decade stations available from Absolute Radio.
  • Take regular breaks and try to get some fresh air. I’ve taken to mowing the lawn on my lunch break and were it not for the aforementioned beagle, said lawn would now be looking like Centre Court on the first day of Wimbledon.
  • Where possible, try to stick to set hours and don’t worry too much if you find that your kids pay your home office a visit every now and then. In fact, embrace it!

Where do you see your company or the industry in six months? One year from now?
The big unknown at this stage is how long the current restrictions will last. The longer this goes on, the more airlines will run out of liquidity, leading to bankruptcies, nationalization or consolidation causing a huge change in the industry landscape. All that being said, we most certainly expect there to be major changes to the global fleet with many older aircraft retired early and orders altered or delayed. Airlines will also reorganize internally, which could see departmental silos broken down and connected aircraft strategies given renewed focus as a means to drive much-needed operational efficiencies.

What’s one thing that will never be the same again for commercial aviation?
While cleaning routines between turns will be stepped up a level or two and extra screening measures to detect signs of fever could emerge as the new norm in an already stressful airport experience, this may not be enough to assuage passenger concern about the risk of infection on board. Airlines will need to plan for a completely different passenger post-coronavirus and one that, by extension, will interact with onboard technology in a totally different way. We actually wrote a popular blog on this topic a few weeks back.

Read more about the coronavirus impact on the air travel industry, including APEX’s position on the matter, and subscribe to the APEX Daily Experience newsletter to stay up to date.