Jamie Conley: from cadet to airport chief in 13 years

Jamie Conley has landed the role of airport fire and operations manager at Sumburgh Airport in Shetland. Photograph: HIAL.
Jamie Conley has landed the role of airport fire and operations manager at Sumburgh Airport in Shetland. Photograph: HIAL.

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A Campbeltown man is on cloud nine after landing a senior management position at one of the busiest airports in the Highlands and Islands, aged just 27.

Jamie Conley has been appointed by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) as the new airport fire and operations manager at Sumburgh Airport in Shetland.

It was as a fresh-faced 14-year-old fire cadet at Campbeltown Fire Station that his interest in a career in the fire service was first sparked.

Jamie, who attended Castlehill Primary School and Campbeltown Grammar School, went on to become a retained fire fighter at the station in 2013, when he was 18 years old.

Keen to turn his passion for fire fighting into a full-time career, Jamie took on a job at Dundee Airport in 2014, before transferring to Islay Airport where he remained for five years.

Making the most of the opportunities HIAL presented him, Jamie progressed through several positions before taking on the Sumburgh role.

When the vacancy was advertised, Jamie jumped at the chance after getting a taste for living in Shetland during a temporary deployment in 2015.

‘The airport fire and operations manager at Sumburgh is a wide-ranging role,’ Jamie said, ‘mainly responsible for ensuring the airport fire service is compliant with all statutory and regulatory requirements, as well as managing other operational activities including wildlife management, aircraft marshalling and airfield maintenance.

‘There can be a lot to juggle but the team is key to keeping the airport running.’

He said he was always keen to progress within HIAL, adding: ‘The opportunities within the service are fantastic, and every airport within the HIAL group is so different in terms of what needs to be done on a day-to-day basis.’

Amazingly, alongside his full-time work, Jamie is doing a BA Honours degree in Business Management through Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University.

His proud parents, Roberta and James, and younger brother Darren, a diesel mechanic with McFadyens Transport, have praised his enthusiasm and work ethic.

‘We’re absolutely delighted for Jamie,’ Roberta said. ‘It just shows you where a wee bit of enthusiasm can get you.

‘It’s a huge responsibility but he’s so capable and meticulous at everything he does. We’re so proud of him.’

Jamie is the eldest grandson of Neil and Irene Conley and the late Margaret and Bertie Robertson.

Jamie’s granda Neil was also a fire fighter in Campbeltown.

Ronnie Souden, Campbeltown Fire Station watch commander, told the Courier: ‘The whole station is really proud of Jamie’s achievements in the fire service. His position is down to a lot of hard work and commitment.

‘Jamie is a great example of where you can go in your career. He is one of quite a number of people from Campbeltown who have gone full-time in the fire service, so it’s definitely worthwhile joining.’

Andrea Sillars, HIAL’s director of human resources, said: ‘HIAL attracts a wide range of people from across our society for our many different roles.

‘Seeing people like Jamie take every opportunity presented to them to gain experience in different locations as well as opportunities to advance knowledge and qualifications is very encouraging.’

When it comes to living in Shetland, Jamie is looking forward to exploring the area more. Roberta and James are looking forward to joining him during a visit next month.