This week we meet Captain James Feeney, chief executive at V-Prep Visual Training.
He tells us about his job, his life and his biggest achievements.
TELL ME ALL ABOUT YOURSELF
My name’s James, Jim to my friends. I’m married with four children – two girls and two boys aged 13 to 27, which makes me feel very old. I’m a pilot and flew and trained on Boeing and Airbus aircraft for 23 years. I’ve taught and examined pilots training to fly the A320, or holiday jets as most people know them, for the last ten years. I’m the chief exec of V-Prep Visual Training which I founded two years ago. It’s an online training system for pilots who fly the Airbus.
It’s the first of its kind and all my energies are going into getting that off the ground, excusing the very bad pun.
GIVE ME AN OVERVIEW OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR
I had my first flying lesson at eight and was one of those geeky kids who had aeroplanes dangling from the ceiling, so I always knew I wanted to be a pilot.
At 21 I started to learn to fly professionally, I had three jobs and borrowed a lot of money to pay for it, but finally qualified as a commercial pilot by the age of 24.
I became a first officer on jets at 27, flying passengers out of the UK to their holiday destinations and back. I was promoted to a captain at 30.
I’ve flown long haul flights flying across the world, worked for an American company flying from New York, and Chicago, and I’ve trained and examined pilots in Europe and India.
The pinnacle I guess has been flying sheikhs and VIPs on private jets. I lived in Abu Dhabi for five years, which is essentially like Disneyland for adults and had an amazing time, but I felt the time was right to do something else. I’d achieved everything I wanted to as a pilot and so decided to set up my own company V-Prep, which I’m really pleased to say is going from strength to strength.
DESCRIBE AN AVERAGE DAY FOR YOU
An average day is spent working out how to do something we do not know how to do.
Fortunately I have a very talented team who always seem to pull the rabbit out of the hat. We’re always looking at ways to improve the product, to expand our offering and look at new training films. We focus on flying now, but the beauty of our product means we could tailor it to any of kind of training or promotional videos, which is something we’re looking at.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Being your own boss because I can make my own mistakes. It might be scarier because you don’t have a monthly wage coming in but you have more control and can make your own decisions.
IF YOU COULD LIVE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I have been privileged to live in some amazing places because of my career. I’ve lived in America, Dubai, India and the Middle East, most of Europe and one of my favourite places was Barcelona, where I lived for six months. For me though, the UK is the absolute best and I feel the safest here. Living in America the number of shootings there does worry you and the climate in the Middle East, where temperatures are reaching 45 degrees, becomes unbearable so the UK really is home.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
I like to run, and last year ran the London Marathon to raise funds for a rare degenerative brain disease called PSP (Progressive Supranuclear palsy Disease). I also like to cook and play the guitar.
WHO INSPIRES YOU AND WHY?
My parents. They both came from a small village in Yorkshire from quite impoverished circumstances, yet managed to have a fabulously interesting and rewarding life working all over the world. Their simple advice to me was, work hard, be fair and never believe you cannot do something you want to do.
Richard Feynman, an American physicist who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1965 has also inspired me. The work he did was ground-breaking and changed the way science is understood. The way he explains the complicated and makes it understandable really interests me. (Read the book “Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman.”)
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?
Having four healthy children.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART ABOUT WORKING IN STOKE-ON-TRENT AND STAFFORDSHIRE?
It’s the people. I just feel in this area they have their priorities right. It doesn’t seem to matter what car you drive, how much money you’ve got or how big your house is, here it’s all about your family and friends, which to me is exactly the right priority to have.
IF YOU COULD GO TO DINNER WITH ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE, WHERE WOULD YOU GO AND WHY?
I would go for lunch with Richard Branson and have a sandwich with him on his space ship so I could pinch a free ride on the Virgin Galactic Experience into orbit.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS YEAR AND WHY?
It’s already happened for me. It was the launch of the company, which I’m incredibly proud of. I’m now looking forward to seeing increased growth and more and more sales, with great feedback.
WHAT IS THE ONE MOTTO THAT YOU LIVE AND WORK BY?
Never, never give up!
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