Rashid Yahya: Achieving Liftoff
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
CONCORD — Originally from India, Rashid Yahya came to the United States to get his lofty professional aspirations off the ground. “After getting my engineering degree in India, I came to Northern California and attended the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics,” he recounts. “After earning my pilot’s license, I went on to become a flight instructor at the school and gradually worked my way up to becoming director of flight operations. Since then, my focus has been managing flight schools and pilot training programs for domestic and international students alike.”
In 2011, Rashid joined Pacific States Aviation, where he helped the small fixed-base operator achieve a much-needed liftoff. “When I first started, we only had three planes and four students; we’ve since expanded to about 75 students and 15 aircraft.”
Today, as CEO and chief pilot of Pacific States Aviation, Rashid says his favorite part of his job is seeing his students succeed. “Each time a student completes their first solo flight or gets their pilot’s license, it makes me very proud and happy. Even though it’s their achievement, we have the privilege of sharing in that success with them.”
A resident of the East Bay (where he lives with wife, May), Rashid spends his time outside of work on a variety of pastimes. “I enjoy traveling, riding my motorcycle, racing go-karts and spending time with my three adult children,” he details. “I’m also a big basketball fan and a season ticket holder for the Golden State Warriors. I’ve been going to Warriors games for more than 20 years, back when tickets were like $15.”
In regard to a professional philosophy, Rashid believes employees are the backbone of any business. “Most companies talk about putting clients first, but I believe the first priority should be taking care of your staff,” he explains. “If you take care of them, they’ll take care of the customers for you, and when that happens, everybody wins. The other thing is, you can teach any skill or technique, but you can’t change a person’s attitude. So, whenever I hire someone, I like to see that they have the right attitude to work with us because I want to maintain a positive company culture.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Rashid says he wouldn’t. “I want to do what I’m doing for as long as I can. If I did retire, I would have my own airplane and keep flying. And even if I wasn’t able to fly, I would continue to be an instructor, because there’s really no age to stop teaching.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: 54 Mint Forno Italiano in Walnut Creek.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Japan. I’ve traveled so much through Asia but I haven’t been there yet.
Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I collect old coins and Golden State Warriors memorabilia.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?
Q: If you could instantly pick up a new skill, what would you choose?
A: I’d like to be better at golf.
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