Today, Ortega implements his knowledge on a daily basis. What he’s learned has made him a more effective manager, he says, because he can “understand where people are at and … motivate people to change for the better.”
Ortega’s role as station manager is multifaceted. He is responsible for managing vendor relationships, customer satisfaction, staffing and budgets, among other things. It’s a position that speaks to his love of teamwork.
“Sometimes you have to be a therapist here, and sometimes you have to be a coach, and sometimes you have to be a referee,” he says with a smile.
Ortega seems to do it well: His team is currently leading the region for customer satisfaction. “I take that as a compliment to myself and my team because I’ve tried to build a foundation here where the team trusts me to give them support and make the changes we need to improve customer satisfaction.”
When Ortega isn’t at the airport or with his family, you might find him working within the community: He partnered with his local Boys & Girls Club for four years, and he’s joined outreach programs through Delta Air Lines to support educational initiatives in Mexico. Beyond that, who knows? You might even find him in the classroom again at some point.
“My short-term goal was to become a station manager,” he says, “and I’m there now. My next goal is to continue growing and learning, and I think getting my master’s will allow me to get to that next level. I want to become VP of Delta Air Lines at one point. That’s something that I really want to strive to get to, and I think having that educational background, that’s something that’s going to help me get there.”
It’s a message he shares with anyone who will listen, from his brother who never completed his degree to his nieces and nephews, friends and mentees. “People have their limitations,” Ortega points out. “They see the world from one perspective, but once you get out into the real world, there’s more to it.”
Expanding that perspective is worth the effort, in Ortega’s view. It not only makes for a more enlightened individual, but it makes the whole team — whether at work or in the world at large — stronger.
“I’m not going to say it was easy,” Ortega says, “because it wasn’t always easy. But I’m glad there’s a different platform for people who have a busy work-home life to have an opportunity to pursue a higher education. I think it’s a key necessity in order for us to get better as a society.”