ADK Consulting & Executive Search Recruits CFO for the Ontario International Airport Authority

June 4, 2024 – Over the past year, a growing number of transportation companies have enlisted executive search firms to help find senior talent. After a nationwide search, ADK Consulting & Executive Search has recruited Celeste Heinonen as the new CFO of the Ontario International Airport Authority. Rod Dinger and Sia Schatz led the assignment. In this position, Ms. Heinonen will play a key role in the authority’s leadership team, overseeing the development and execution of financial goals and objectives. She will create the authority’s financial plans, including annual operating and capital budgets. Ms. Heinonen began her new role on May 28, 2024.

“I’m honored to join the Ontario International Airport team as they look forward to the opportunities ahead and continue to serve the region,” said Ms. Heinonen. “The Ontario International Airport Authority leadership and staff are energetic and committed aviation professionals, determined to make a difference in the industry. The airport provides welcomed commercial passenger service in Southern California, while the cargo operations play a vital role in the local economy and beyond.”

Ms. Heinonen has a strong background in data-driven analysis and strategic problem solving. Most recently she was director – operating budget for the Massachusetts Port Authority. In this role, she oversaw the operating budget, including a portfolio of up to $1 billion in annual operating revenues and $600 million in annual expenses. Ms. Heinonen has also held the titles of airport business finance manager and concession finance manager for the Massachusetts Port Authority.

The Ontario International Airport is approximately 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the central area of Southern California known as the Inland Empire. IT is a full-service medium hub airport, serving nearly 6 million passengers and is a major air-cargo hub facility. After 40 years under control of the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports, ownership and control of the airport was transferred to the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) on November 1, 2016.

Serving Airports

Founded in 2003, Atlantic Beach, FL-based ADK specializes exclusively in talent searches for the airport management community. The firm is led by founder and president Doug Kuelpamn, who has a history of over 40 years in aviation. ADK’s services include retained executive search, interim management, organizational consulting, and leadership development.

Mr. Dinger, senior project manager, has extensive experience in the public sector. Prior to his retirement from full-time public service in 2015, he had direct oversight of six internal City of Redding divisions that included airports, solid waste, information technology, fleet, building maintenance and purchasing. Mr. Dinger had managed the city of Redding’s two airports in some capacity from 1991 until 2015. Since joining ADK in 2016, he has served as interim airport manager for five different airports (MVY, ACV, RDD, VCB and CIC). In each case, filling a temporary need while the airport operator was completing their search for a permanent airport manager. Mr. Dinger has also been the Lead Project Manager on numerous senior executive level searches and organizational development projects.

Related: ZRG Partners Helps Place New CEO at Sunshine Coast Airport

Ms. Schatz, senior consultant, has over 40 years of diverse experience in the aviation industry. She has experience with various aspects of the industry from the airlines to numerous airport and Port Authority positions and most recently with the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP). Prior to joining ADK in 2022, Ms. Schatz was senior program officer for the ACRP at the Transportation Research Board under The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Recent CFO Search

ADK recently placed Elshad Garayev as the new CFO of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority. In this role, he oversees all aspects of financial management, including budgeting, regulatory compliance, and financial analysis. Mr. Garayev will also manage the organization’s investment portfolio, ensuring alignment with the authority’s financial goals and risk tolerance.

With over 20 years of experience in finance leadership and controllership, Mr. Garayev brings a wealth of knowledge from his prior roles, including principle of finance, operational excellence leader at Amazon, subsidiary CFO for Boeing, CFO for RPK Capital and early career with BP. Most recently, he was chief financial officer for Flora Growth, an emerging growth biopharmaceutical company.

Related: Odgers Berndtson Recruits CEO for American Association of Port Authorities

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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