For Amanda O’Krongley, the Aviation industry is a family business.
She and her husband, whom she met at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, are both Aviation planners. Her oldest son is getting his pilot’s license and will attend his parents’ alma mater remotely next year as he continues to work at a Fixed Base Operator at San Antonio International Airport. And to no one’s surprise, her other son is already showing interest in the industry at 13 years old.
But the ties between Aviation and family don’t stop at Amanda’s doorstep.
“She treats her employees like family, and she cares for clients like that, too,” said South Central Regional Airfield Leader Steve Creamer. “She’s the most compassionate person I have ever met.”
Aviation Vice President Rodney Bishop, who has known Amanda for 15 years, agrees.
“She’s the kind of person who walks into the room and shakes hands with everyone,” said Rodney. “It’s not because she’s trying to judge where she stands with people. It’s just because she's a genuinely nice person.”
That’s part of what makes Amanda a great leader, he said.
“She cares about growing her employees’ careers and helping them to succeed,” said Rodney. “And because of that, they would go into battle for her.”
Three Perspectives. One Industry.
Beyond her leadership skills, Amanda offers a multifaceted perspective of the Aviation industry – as a pilot, a former San Antonio airport official and now an RS&H planner.
Amanda, who began flying before she could drive, traces her Aviation journey back to the early 1980s.
One day in eighth grade, an American Airlines pilot came to her mom’s small accounting business to get his taxes done. While there, he asked Amanda what she wanted to do when she grew up.
“I said, oh, I thought maybe a pediatrician,” said Amanda. “I told him I’d really like to fly, but I didn’t want to be a stewardess.”
The pilot asked Amanda what she was talking about, telling her that girls could fly, too.
And, he added, “if you want to get a pilot’s license, you need to go to a school called Embry Riddle.”
Amanda first started flying gliders, aircraft without engines, when she was 14 before eventually graduating to planes with engines.
Four years after her chance meeting with the pilot, Amanda headed off to Embry Riddle’s Daytona Beach, Florida, campus, as he had directed – albeit with her pilot’s license already in hand.
‘A Boss You’d Go into Battle For’
Senior Aviation Planner Adam Novak first met Amanda at another firm 10 years ago, where she was his supervisor. Three weeks after Amanda moved to RS&H, Adam started a new position at another firm.
“She began recruiting me within six months of starting at RS&H. I had just settled in to a job at the new company,” said Adam. “But I came to the decision to leave. There’s not a person I would change firms for except for Amanda O’Krongley.”
Amanda is always available to provide guidance to other planners, added Adam. But she also serves as a resource for colleagues outside of her discipline.
“When I’m working on an engineering-related project, I can always go to Amanda and make sure what we’re doing now is going to work with the airport’s development over the next 5, 10 or 15 years,” said Steve. “I get her long-view planning perspective, and she’ll come to me for engineering guidance.”
At RS&H, work & family coexist
Amanda knows how fast time goes.
“She always says, ‘my kids are only in my house until they’re 18,’” said Adam. “She works really hard to be present at work and at home.”
It’s a hard balance to find, says Amanda. But it’s one that RS&H has made easier.
“All of the flexibility we’re offered here allows me to get my job done but also go and watch my kids at their baseball games,” she added.
Compassion & Leadership
Amanda is a leader inside and outside of RS&H.
Actively involved in her community, she volunteers for Meals on Wheels, an activity to which Amanda’s parents introduced her and to which Amanda introduced her children. Amanda also serves on the committee for the RS&H Elevate Fund, which supports nonprofits in the communities in which associates live and work.
Beyond her official community service roles, Amanda is also known for everyday acts of kindness, said Steve.
“I remember one recent Thanksgiving, there was a man at her church who didn’t have anyone to celebrate the holiday with,” he said. “So, Amanda invited him to spend the day with her family.
“That’s just who she is.”