Face-to-face with Chris Woodroofe, Gatwick’s Chief Operating Officer

In an exclusive video interview with Chris Woodroofe, International Airport Review’s Editor, Tara Nolan, discusses the COO’s career path, how the Gatwick community has been brought together and the strategy that is in place for the forthcoming decade.

Chemical Engineer by trade, Chris Woodroofe gave us an insight into the journey his career has taken him on. Beginning within the Nestlé graduate scheme, Woodroofe moved into manufacturing, and then landed at Gatwick Airport, resulting in “one of the best jobs there is”.

With 2,600 employees directly working for him, Woodroofe relies on quality communication across departments on a daily – or even hourly – basis. Ensuring each passenger has a great experience relies on “everyone coming together and delivering a high standard”, including airlines, ground handlers, caterers, retailers, police and border force.

To combat the fragmented and often disjointed environments that are frequently found in airports, Woodroofe launched the ‘Gatwick Family’ initiative which seeks to unite the entire 30,000-strong workforce – regardless of who they work with – with the aim of building closer, more productive relationships.

This collaborative, campus-wide approach has been greatly supported by the airport ‘Community app’, conceptualised by Gatwick and now used by over 12 airports across the world. At Gatwick, employees from over 200 companies use it so that the entire workforce have real-time information on their smartphones, enabling them to assist passengers and to make better decisions.

Alongside workforce, the airport’s impact on the environment is a key concern. Improvements in this area were emphasised in Gatwick’s Decade of Change strategy.

Sustainability, in terms of “energy, carbon and noise”, has played a central role in Gatwick’s transformation since 2009 and the airport has a clear aim to “make reductions in its environmental impact” and become the UK’s most sustainable airport. The ambition is driven by the Decade of Change strategy and an airport-wide recognition that the economic benefits the airport generates must be balanced with a sustainable operation. 

Since its launch in 2010, the strategy has seen Gatwick decouple growth from environmental impact. As passenger numbers have grown to 46 million, the airport’s environment footprint has reduced.

Now it must be considered, “what does the next decade look like”? Achieving net-zero carbon is a key focus for Gatwick, alongside driving down emissions.

As passenger numbers increase, it is imperative to ensure airports across the globe can manage this capacity growth. An airport experience during which no delays or disruptions occur is the dream for all airports, and Woodroofe was assured that “in 15-20 years, airports will not look dissimilar to today, but the process in which passengers arrive and get on the plane will be much more seamless”.

With Gatwick Airport as our Airport IT & Security conference partner, Chris Woodroofe will be presenting a keynote address – be sure not to miss it!

One response to “Face-to-face with Chris Woodroofe, Gatwick’s Chief Operating Officer”

  1. Great interview with Chris Woodroofe. I have worked in partnership with Chris and he showcases the importance of partnership working, involving the wider community. Gatwick goes from strength to strength it can only do this with good leadership, communication, collaboration and a culture where everyone can feel part of its development.

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