An unusual company has set up shop in Cambodia with an idea to train a new generation of Cambodian aircraft mechanics, pilots and other professionals in the aviation industry.
According to CEO Rob Fioto, the founder and chairman of Revolutionary Accelerated Collaboration Environment (RACE), headquartered in Frisco, Texas, the non-profit organisation has acquired a licence to operate locally as Cambodian Aerospace Industries, with an office in the Parkway Building on Mao Tse Tung Boulevard and a training centre on Street 80, opposite the French Embassy.
RACE describes itself as a collaborative nonprofit partnership of performance improvement and innovation leaders from industry and government, strategically integrated into a single, cohesive, high-performance team offering a depth and breadth of experience, knowledge and capability.
Fioto, who grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and worked for many years in the aviation industry, met Cambodia-American associate Mara Mao in Texas. Following a persuasive argument from Mao, Fioto came to Cambodia last year, and after a fact-finding survey of Cambodia, the RACE partnership has hired a team of 30 people to begin training Cambodians for work in the aerospace industry.
From his first trip to Cambodia in mid-2012, Fioto said he and his associates identified more than 1,200 potential infrastructure projects.
“We started weeding those down into what could be done quickly and what we could get the US government or private industry to fund.
“We have a lot of venture capitalists that want to fund projects and we started structuring things and how could we do the most benefit,” in an interview on Wednesday.
In addition to aviation, Fioto said power stations could be combined with water treatment technology for cost savings on both sides.
“There is a tremendous need for clean power and you can make millions of gallons of clean water at the same time, and it is not as damaging or harmful as hydro-electric power.
In order to attract more international airlines to Cambodia, Fioto says having more people trained and certified in aircraft maintenance would help a great deal. He said Cambodians who wanted to be pilots or aircraft mechanics needed to go to other countries to gain their certifications.
Fioto’s intention is that Cambodians employed by RACE will get associate degrees after working two years and bachelor’s degrees after working four years.
“We’ll be bringing all of our equipment and training in,” he said.
“We run 28,000 accredited courses in the United States, and Cambodians will get access to the very best learning. We want to bring our fully accredited US University here.”
One of the most important elements in aerospace training in Cambodia, Fioto said, is certification for pilots and mechanics under the guidelines of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“FAA approved licences are more valuable than anything. Young Cambodians can take those licences and get jobs anywhere in the world,” he said. “We’ll be doing the training, getting them certified, and from that we’re going to roll into doing the maintenance for the airlines, and eventually running a full parts manufacturing and repair facility right here in Cambodia,” he said.
Fioto previously worked for US defence contractors Raytheon and Honeywell, where he was recognised for exceeding goals through process improvements. He said his RACE organisation had helped companies and governments save billions of dollars through process improvement.
“Cambodian Aerospace Industries is the first of 30 companies that we’re going to establish in Cambodia. We’re working on energy development, clean water, road infrastructure, communications and transportation,” he said.
“For tourism to thrive you’ve got to be able to move your people and you’ve got to be able to move your goods to support tourism and the growth of your country.”
Fioto said the idea was to develop skills where Cambodians could work with their minds instead of as manual labourers.
He said the biggest need in Cambodia was programming.
“The failures are not in technology, but in knowing how to manage complex projects.”
He describes his RACE organisation as “a think tank of 90 corporations.”
“We formed this nonprofit umbrella for process improvement in all kinds of fields including medical and defence. Rather than one company maintaining 1500 competencies, people do what they are best at. All of our materials are based on lean six sigma process improvement,” he said.
The primary work of RACE, he said, was to eliminate waste and maximise efficiency of processes and systems using data-driven procedures.
“By going into organisations and doing good assessments of what’s happening, looking at data, looking at facts, you can look at the waste. There is not a business we have gone into that we haven’t cut 10 to 20 per cent in costs. We use organisational psychologists, and if a process doesn’t fit your culture, it won’t work,” Fioto said.
He said the trainings for Cambodians in the aerospace industry would begin in April and that their website will soon be online at www.cambodianaerospace.com.