Megan Atkins Thoben
Director of Operations & Business Development, Louisville Regional Airport Authority
Family: Husband Eric, sons Jack and Eli, dog Tigger
By Carrie Vittitoe | Photo by Kylene White
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to operations at an airport: keeping the terminals and airfields in working order, ensuring inspection requirements are met or exceeded, and having all alert systems at the ready. An airport, especially one that serves as a United Parcel Service hub, is always open and always busy. In addition to operations, Megan Atkins Thoben also handles business development with an ultimate goal of one day being an airport director.
What has been your experience at the airport?
I started here as a business development manager with a background in operations, but my goal was to diversify to have experience in all different facets. I’ve gotten to tag along with our director of air service and marketing, but a need came up for someone to run our terminal renovation project. I hadn’t had the chance to manage construction. It’s turned into a multi-year $400 million plus renovation. We’re going to switch all the heating and cooling to geothermal which will make us one of the most efficient airports in the world.
What is the most challenging part of your role?
Because I’m responsible for so many different things, it requires a really good handle on time management and prioritizing. I used to be such a perfectionist; the older I get and the bigger my career gets, the more I have to be okay with only a certain level if I want to be able to do all of these things. I have to figure out what this balance is.
What drew you to a career in running an airport?
My dad had his private pilot certificate starting at 19. He picked [flying] back up when I was in first grade; he bought a small airplane that we kept out at Bowman Field. [Our family] would all go flying together. After the novelty wore off for my brothers, the last two people left standing were me and my dad. Time with him was really precious. I knew I wanted to do something with airplanes because I knew that would be meaningful.
What is something you wish you’d figured out sooner in your life?
In the beginning, I did not fully value that the people around me and part of the current situation I was brought in to fix weren’t necessarily part of the problem or weren’t motivated to fix it. I didn’t leave a lot of room for grace, understanding, and time to listen to people. With every situation I go into now, I gather my evidence, talk to people, get some background, and always remember that the past is important to appreciate when attempting to move forward.
How do you work to support and mentor young women?
I have an immense love for my high school. I owe so much of who I am to Mercy High School. I’m on the alumnae board of directors and volunteer for any events they have. I was their commencement speaker. I can’t even describe how cool that was.
What is the most interesting flight you’ve had?
My dad and I were trying to make it one of our missions to get to as many small airports in Kentucky and Southern Indiana as we could. There were a couple we landed in in far eastern Kentucky. Olive Hill, I think that was one of them. We got down on the runway, if you can call it a runway; it was just one sheet of what was asphalt. We opened the doors, looked around, and saw a farmer on a tractor. He stood up like, ‘Are you guys OK? Do you need anything?’ We checked it off the list and turned around and left.
What is an item you carry with you at all times (not your phone)?
Baby wipes [but] 95% of what I use baby wipes for are not babies. Nothing takes out a stain in my shirt like a Pampers’ wipe.