Life at MAN – Charlotte Hudson (Aviation Security Officer)
In the first instalment of a blog series looking at the people and roles who keep Manchester Airport running smoothly, we caught up with Aviation Security Officer Charlotte Hudson, who talked us through the basics of airport security, the opportunities for progression, and encounters with the rich and famous…
What does your job involve on a typical day?
We x-ray all bags and items that are going on board an aircraft, or into the security-restricted area. We body search passengers and staff, we take part in patrols, and evacuations if they happen. We are basically doing customer service duties but making sure everyone is safe at the same time.
What is your favourite part of the job?
I’m a people person, I love meeting people and working with people. My favourite part of the job is definitely finding out where all these people have come from, where they’re going to, having a chat with them, and basically just being around a lot of different people from different walks of life. And I have to mention my colleagues as well, because we’re such a great team - working together with them is definitely one of the best parts of the job.
How long have you been working at the airport?
I started at Manchester Airport in 2017 so it’s been just shy of five years, and no pun intended, it’s definitely flown by! I started as a Security Ambassador, which is more the customer service side of security, and worked my way up to become an aviation security officer.
What do you enjoy most about working in an airport environment?
The best thing about working in an airport environment is definitely the teamwork. It sounds really cliché, but it is just so true. We work so well together, we have a bit of banter and we get the job done. I also love planes and aviation; I find it really interesting and don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it!
What made you want to become a security officer?
I saw an ad on Indeed – I’d always wanted to be in the police when I was in school and had somehow ended up in hospitality, so I’d come from a hospitality background – and I thought, ‘why couldn’t I have a go at doing that? I’m a people person.’ I came for the interview, and I haven’t looked back since.
How long did it take you to get up to speed?
It did take a little while to get used to certain aspects of the job – obviously, I’d never x-rayed anything or body searched anyone before, but it didn’t take too long. I’d say I needed a few weeks, just to build my confidence and get used to the surroundings. You’ll have so much support around you though and there’s always someone to help.
What are the most important skills for a security officer to have?
One of the most important things you need to have is patience and an ability to stay calm under pressure, because we’re running an operation and need to keep it running smoothly. You’ve got to be a team player, too, because you are working within a big team of people, and you need to be very tolerant because you might be dealing with guests who don’t travel frequently or aren’t sure what they need to be doing, so you need to have people skills as well, and want to help.
What kind of support / training did you receive?
There’s so much support and training available – we have a full training team who are always in the terminal and helping out. The managers are amazing – you can always ask if there’s anything you’re unsure about. Even now, five years on, I might have something I’m unsure on, but know I can always ask them and they’ll help out. We also do refresher training every year, which is a good opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
What’s the most interesting / unusual thing you’ve encountered on the job?
Well, we see lots of unusual things on a daily basis! I’d say the most interesting thing for me personally has been meeting some amazingly famous people. In the past couple of days I’ve been over at our private terminal dealing with football teams, so I was able to meet the players. That is probably one of the most interesting aspects of the job.
Are there good opportunities for progression?
There are lots of different opportunities for progression. I myself am working towards a Security Team Manager role, which is the next step up operationally, but there are so many different fields you can enter - you can go into training or coaching, hold baggage screening, airfield security, to name just a few.
I am doing some mentoring at present – I was selected to look after some new starters, which has been really enjoyable, watching them progress and thrive as they learn the job, and helping them settle in. I’m there if they need any support or if they have any questions, they can come to me.
What would you say to someone considering a career in airport security?
Please, just do it! If you’ve got the people skills, if you come from a customer service or hospitality background for example, and you enjoy working with people - or if you’re just a bit nosey like me! – then go for it, you won’t regret it. Go for it and see what it’s all about.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Well, outside of work I’ve got quite a busy social life. I go to the gym (a lot!), I absolutely love going to the gym. There’s a group of us on the security team who tend to go out for food and a few drinks sometimes, so there’s quite a good social side to the job. I play the drums too and I come from a performing arts background so I do a bit of that as well!
Manchester Airport is now recruiting Aviation Security Officers. If you’re an enthusiastic self-starter with a proactive attitude and an ability to deliver first-class customer service, we’d love to hear from you! Visit www.manchesterairport.co.uk/recruitment/security-roles/ to find out more.