Touchdown: Finance Manager Clare Lands Fleet of 787 Dreamliners

By: Maxine Sheppard

October 17, 2014

Landing one of the newest, most advanced aircraft in the skies takes skill, nerve and years of training. So just imagine what’s involved in landing a whole fleet. That’s precisely what Clare Mahony has just helped to do for Virgin Atlantic. But she doesn’t have a pilot’s licence and she kept her feet firmly planted on the ground at all times. So how exactly did she manage to achieve this amazing feat?

OK, so we cheated just a little bit. But while Clare might not have physically landed Virgin Atlantic’s all-singing, all-dancing fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, she did play a vital role in making this complex, high-profile acquisition land without a hitch.

Clare is a Finance Manager at Virgin Atlantic. She’s been with the business for over seven years now. Starting out as Finance Analyst back in 2007, she quickly worked her way up to her current role supporting the Engineering Manager via a stint as a Senior Analyst. In January 2014, she took a break from her usual day job to take on the biggest and most exciting challenge of her career.

“The idea of working on such a big, all-consuming project was quite daunting to begin with. But this was tempered by that fact I knew I would learn so much and have so much opportunity to grow – personally and professionally. So when I was asked to do it, I jumped at the chance.”

Clare was seconded from her role in the engineering team to provide wide-ranging finance advice and support on the project.

“In my regular role as a Finance Manager, I was totally focused on the needs of the engineering team – which was great. But during my secondment, I have found myself liaising right across the business with everyone from Comms & PR and Design right through to Customer Experience and Flight Operations. I think I’ve counted over 40 business cases I’ve had to put together, all in all, for different departments since joining the project. It’s been a massive learning curve – but an invaluable one at the same time. Now, I feel I’ve developed such a good overview of the business, as well as insights into areas I would never have normally touched on.”

Acquiring the Dreamliner fleet has been a game-changing moment for Virgin Atlantic. In such a competitive industry, it’s vital we stay one step ahead of the competition. The Virgin Atlantic brand is renowned for its innovation and total focus on customer service, and with this in mind, acquiring these new aircraft was a key strategic business objective.

Claire Mahoney.jpg

Clare Mahoney

“Being part of a team responsible for delivering on such an important project has been an amazing experience. Aside from the massive financial investment involved, I’ve been able to step beyond my usual role of providing month-end financials and forecasts. It’s been interesting to see how Directors work at close quarters – and knowing the work I have done to help support their decision-making process is very rewarding.”

“I am now looking forward to the next exciting challenge in my career.”

Visit our careers website to read more about life at Virgin Atlantic.


Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.