Starting at ACL during Covid-19

ACL’s newest recruit, Wade Chan, discusses what it’s like starting a new job during a nation-wide lock-down.

Wade performing coordination from the comfort of her living room


On March 18th I received joining instructions from Marion, reconfirming my new role as a Coordinator at Airport Coordination Limited (ACL). To the amusement of my then colleagues, my start date was April 1st, April Fool’s Day; making them joke I had accepted a prank job. Whilst, I knew this was not true, with COVID-19 beginning to impact many jobs in aviation, I did start to worry.

The UK went into lockdown the following week and I began to consider if a new job was a wise decision. A few days later an email from ACL pinged on my phone ‘Change of joining Instructions’: my heart sunk. Expecting the job to be put on hold, I was relieved to read that my arrival time had merely been adjusted to a new time.

By the time I received my next email a week later my heart was pounding, and I delayed opening it for several hours. Again, my fears were misplaced, and it was simply another information update. I began to feel more confident. ACL were an organised company and I was looking forward to a new start in a new job.

April 1st came and mercifully it was not an April Fool’s joke! With great excitement, I entered ACL’s office and was immediately struck by its emptiness. A man quickly appeared with a welcoming smile and introduced himself as Richard Cann, Head of Coordination. Richard gave me a quick run down of the company, his job role, the plan for my induction and how I would immediately be working from home. Communication between the company was taking place across Microsoft Teams. Richard bought up the programme and demonstrated a call to Ingrid Hainy, my new line manager. Soon after I was given a work laptop and shown how I could access our system remotely. Within an hour I was back home; I had met only one colleague and was continuing my first day from my living room.

I successfully managed to log into the company VPN and made my first Teams call to my new manager. It was strange communicating in this method. Ingrid was extremely organised, welcoming and had crafted a whole training schedule via Teams. I met my first teammate online, Kavi Ghanasegaram, a coordinator like me. I would be shadowing Kavi to get an idea of what coordination involves. It was interesting to see how the slot system worked. Ingrid then began teaching me SSIM training and on my third day a meeting was arranged for me to meet ACL’s CEO, Edmond. Throughout my working life, I have never met the CEO of a company I worked for. To meet a CEO, almost in person, was another first for me; Edmond was very friendly and supportive.

My next week could be summarised as meetings galore! I met various members of ACL’s management and learnt about their roles. My first team meeting felt strange and I had little clue what was being discussed but working alongside Kavi made understanding and learning easier. Any issues were just a Teams call away; this made settling in easy despite being at home. Shahbaz Bhatti, another coordinator, was to be my daily trainer and mentor. Training sessions with him are very precise and detailed. Distance training feels odd initially but is easily adaptable.

A month on in my coordination role at ACL I feel comfortable handling messages. I was even entrusted with the responsibility of running Heathrow’s operation for a day! Though nervous initially, it allowed me to handle tasks myself and I gained direct expose to dynamic operational changes. I was grateful to Ingrid for giving me both the opportunity and for a chance to grow my confidence, something which is increasing day by day. Working from home is a unique experience. Everyone I have met at ACL (virtually) has been very friendly, helpful, and supportive. I look forward to meeting them all in person once lockdown ends.


By Wade Chan
Copyright © ACL Airport Coordination Limited Ltd. All rights reserved.
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