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Putting in the Time: In conversation with John Del Mastro

By McCall Valentin

“I don’t know the word quit” exclaims John.

After working at GE for more than 35 years, we finally have a chance to get a better understanding of the Managing Director of Underwriting, Capital Markets & Portfolio at GECAS Engines.

Let’s start at the beginning. John Del Mastro grew up with five siblings in his family of first-generation immigrants from Italy. Upon graduating high school, John eagerly enlisted with the Marines; a move that had always been his plan. Feeling a need to serve his country, John expected that his military service would become a long-term career. After 6 years of service under his belt, he chose to leave the Corps in pursuit of other opportunities.

He wanted to build a family and earn a degree to provide for his wife Mary and their future children. In three short years, John was the first in his family to graduate college and was soon hired into GE. In 1982, John expected the role to be a stepping stone towards his future and instead found it evolving into a lifelong career.

In 2000, John and four coworkers were tasked in pioneering engine leasing for GE. Nearly two decades later and John is the last of the original team still driving this initiative. He was — and still is — an integral part of the team that built the innovative business which continues to grow. His incredible work ethic greatly contributed to the success of engine leasing and to John’s own career. Every day John gets up at 4:30 and is working by 5:30, but “By 6 its chaos.” The plan set the night before is completely altered and there is something new to do and a new problem to fix.

John loves that he has independence in his work, but also that he has a strong network of people he can rely on. If John could change one thing, he would want to move more quickly than current processes allow. John prefers to work outside the box to get things done in the best and the most efficient way possible. To escape the chaotic pace, John enjoys cooking, golfing, hiking and gardening in his free time and hopes to spend more time on these in his retirement.

To better understand engine leasing John put it quite simply:  every airline needs spare engines no matter if they lease or own planes. Building an engine leasing company was a “natural fit,” since GECAS already had engines. Engine leasing was only a benefit to the already strong aircraft leasing company. An airline can either lease a package with both planes and engines which means multiple branches of GE are working together or they can lease just engines. This was a major breakthrough in this industry because no one had done it like this before; allowing GE to be a very strong competitor in a saturated aircraft leasing market.

GECAS also provides non-GE engines to accommodate the range of aircraft types operated by its customers, each requiring a specific engine. There are three phases of engines. Phase I: in production, Phase II: aircraft production has stopped, but a strong demand for spare engines exists in the market. Finally, Phase III: mature engines that are still needed to support world fleet, but engines are coming to the end of their life. This means GECAS engines cover all the market within the world fleet. Engine leasing is a “natural fit” for GECAS and has proven to be an added advantage to GE over time.

In my conversations with John, he shared with me some advice that will stick with me. “If you wake up every day and are not excited to go to work, you don’t belong there, nor will you succeed. You should first follow your aspirations then the rest will come naturally.” He also suggests learning as much as you can and to open your mind to new ideas.

“Don’t take the easy way out, go for something more challenging, take the risk and you’ll have a better reward. To be successful, you need to be honest, put in the time and effort, express yourself, don’t be apprehensive and never give up … go for it!”