In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, observed every year from September 15 – October 15, Atlas will highlight Hispanic colleagues who play an important role here at Atlas and share how their culture has shaped them. Today we introduce you to Erik Alba.
What is your current title and how long have you been at Atlas?
I am the Senior Manager of Ground Operations, Standards and Procedures. I started with Atlas on August 8, 1999.
What are your primary responsibilities in your role at Atlas and what is your favorite part about the job?
My primary responsibility is to oversee all of the Company’s ground operations manuals from a regulatory standpoint. I’m one of the primary points of contact to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) when it comes to manuals, approvals or new procedures for the Company. Additionally, I’m the primary point of contact for external and internal customer audits like the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). A big part of my role also involves inspecting cargo loading systems of new aircraft at the factory before they roll out.
My favorite part of the job is the dynamic environment. I enjoy that there’s always a new challenge every day.
How did you find Atlas?
A colleague of mine, Bernie Comino, Ground Operations Procedures Specialist, Standards and Training, recommended Atlas to me. We used to work together at a different airline before he moved to Atlas and encouraged me to apply.
What do you like best about working here?
The best thing about working at Atlas is my colleagues. I’m lucky to work with a great team of people. There is so much knowledge that I can tap into amongst everyone on my team.
How did you find your way into aviation? What prompted you to consider aviation as a career?
In 1990, I started working for a Colombian airline out of Miami. They sent me to school and I became flight dispatcher for them. I was fresh out of high school and looking for something to do, and they were hiring. Since it was a Colombian airline, the fact that I was bilingual was perfect because I could communicate with Spanish-speaking parties if there were any issues. It was a great introduction into the world of aviation and I’ve been working in the industry ever since.
What is the best part about working in aviation?
The best part about working in aviation for me is the opportunity to travel. My experiences have been fantastic. I’ve been to more countries than most people could ever dream of visiting. It’s been so eye-opening for me to go and see all of these different places.
Please tell us about your Hispanic heritage and how your culture inspires you.
My whole family is of Cuban descent. We left Cuba in 1982, spent a year in Ecuador, and then came to the U.S. in 1983. I’m grateful to my parents for taking that leap of faith and bringing me over. My parents left everything behind to give me and my sister a better life. So, their sacrifice is something that inspires me and something that I will always thank them for.
Tell us a little bit about your upbringing and the values instilled in you.
Growing up in Cuba, my mom was a professor and my dad was an accountant so we lived in a very well-established home. My parents are still together, and seeing their relationship has been a great example for me as I’ve been married to my wife for 32 years now. Both of my parents did an incredible job of instilling positive beliefs and values in both me and my sister growing up. In moving to the U.S., they taught me the value of sacrifice and that it’s important to respect everyone. Also, their commitment to providing for us showed me the importance of never giving up and that when you see a challenge, you face it. Those are values that I carry with me to this day, and will continue to pass on to my children and grandchildren.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you / How are you Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month this Year?
Hispanic Heritage Month is a way to honor those of Hispanic descent and the sacrifices they made. It’s a way to say thank you to our heritage and how it’s shaped us into who we are today.
I see the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month as a melting pot of cultures. When I celebrate, it involves my family getting together to watch football while eating Spanish food and listening to Spanish music.
What would your colleagues be most surprised to learn about you?
I started cycling back in the early 2000s when a friend of mine with multiple sclerosis (MS) asked me if I would join a cycling fundraising event to raise money for MS. Since then, I’ve participated in many races and charity rides throughout the years. I also enjoy riding recreationally. Cycling is my biggest passion and something I dedicate a lot of time and energy to.