Alumni Spotlight - Linell Olecki '06

Linell Olecki posing with Dr. I. Richmond Netty


Major: Aeronautics - Aviation Management
Graduated: 2006

Linell's journey at Kent State began with a passion for aviation, drawn to the Aeronautics program and the opportunity to earn her pilot's license at the University's airport. What set Kent apart for her was its more typical “college atmosphere,” compared to other aviation-specific institutions.

Although initially aiming to become a pilot, Linell discovered a deeper interest in airport management, ultimately shaping her career path. Post-graduation, she launched her career as an airport properties specialist with the city of Philadelphia’s Department of Aviation, gaining invaluable insights into the architecture/engineering/construction (AEC) industry. Joining AECOM in 2010 as an airport planner, Linell's dedication and growing responsibilities led to her rise as a senior airport planner and then a project manager.

Today, as the Northeast Aviation Lead at AECOM, Linell's enthusiasm for the aviation industry remains unwavering. She relishes the opportunity to assist airports and aviation clients nationwide in overcoming their toughest challenges. For Linell, the AEC/airport community embodies a collective effort to enhance our nation's infrastructure.

Her role involves strategic business development for AECOM’s northeast aviation team, encompassing client satisfaction and ongoing support, team building, and guiding career growth for team members. Leveraging her extensive network, built over years of relationship-building, Linell is instrumental in driving these efforts.

Challenges do arise, primarily centered around funding, a concern echoed by airport clients. Many U.S. airports grapple with aging infrastructure, necessitating a delicate balance between maintenance and modernization. AECOM addresses this by deploying innovative solutions tailored to clients' budget constraints, including phased projects, grant exploration, and Private-Public Partnerships (P3s).

A pinnacle achievement for Linell was her involvement in the design of the Academic Center at Kent State University Airport, a project undertaken by her firm, AECOM. The opportunity to contribute to this remarkable facility for students at the Airport remains a profound honor for Linell.

Linell maintains a strong connection with Kent State, actively participating in both virtual and in-person presentations for students on aviation consulting. She also contributed to the Aeronautics Advisory Committee and aided in the hiring of KSU students for internships and entry-level positions at AECOM. Linell stays in regular contact with the Aeronautics staff, particularly Dr. Nettey and Dr. McFarland, who were influential figures during her time at Kent State and remain steadfast sources of support and encouragement in her career to this day.

For current students aspiring to careers in aviation, Linell shared some insights and valuable advice:

What is one of your favorite memories, classes, professors, or activities while attending KSU as a student and why?

I used to enjoy getting up to fly out of the college airport.  But looking back, my favorite memory was probably graduation day. I learned and accomplished more in my four years than I ever thought I was capable of. I graduated with honors, and I discovered who I was and what I wanted from my life during those four years.

What are some skills that have served you well through your career?

Definitely being organized, my ability to network and connect people, and committing to the things I say I’ll do. Trust is extremely important in this industry. There may be a company logo on my business card, but my name is on the line every day with what I commit to doing for our clients and staff. Following through has been a key to my success.

Linell Olecki and her husband hand out Halloween candy

Do you have any advice or life lessons to share with current KSU students?

Networking and fostering my professional relationships have been pivotal in my career growth and successes. I’d recommend current KSU students get involved with professional organizations such as the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), or Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS).

Any advice on how to transition from college to “real” life?

Realize that not everything goes as you plan. It took me a long time to trust the timing of things – from career promotions to personal milestones. I always thought there was a timeline I had to adhere to, but I’ve learned sometimes you have to let go and live rather than always trying to plan each and every step.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

The term “bleisure” is becoming trendy. It’s when you incorporate business and leisure travel together. Since I travel weekly for my job, I love to add on days at the end of a trip to visit family or friends or spend a weekend exploring a new city with my husband.

Anything else you’d like to share that is fun/important?

I’d love for students to know there are countless careers in the aviation industry outside of being a pilot. From finance to real estate to public relations, the industry requires a vast array of backgrounds to operate efficiently and effectively!  I love talking about our industry and sharing my experiences with future leaders, so please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn!

POSTED: Wednesday, October 25, 2023 01:41 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2024 11:40 AM