Up close with Birmingham Airport CEO and new president of the Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Paul Kehoe
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I am Paul Kehoe, and for the last eight years I have been the CEO of Birmingham Airport. I have been in the aviation business for 35 years working at a variety of airports across the UK and overseas. I hold two other roles – chairman of Marketing Birmingham and just recently president of Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. You’ll see all three jobs have Birmingham in the title which shows the importance of Birmingham to me and my life.
HOW DO YOU GET INTO TOWN?
I live in Solihull, so it’s a 10-minute commute on the M42 from home to the airport.
IS BRUM A GOOD PLACE TO WORK IN?
Birmingham is a great city. It’s interesting in that it’s not too big and it’s not too small. It’s a Goldilocks city, it’s just right. It’s easy to get across, there’s not the sprawling mass of London. Right now it’s a buzzy, buzzy place. We are seeing lots of great, classic new buildings going up. Sir John Peace [chairman of the Midlands Engine partnership of business, local authorities and organisations promoting growth in the region] is right when he says the period between now and 2026 – the date when we hope to have the Commonwealth Games here – is going to be a golden decade.
There’s nothing better than sitting by the canalside between the ICC and Brindleyplace on a sunny autumn day and enjoying a coffee and watching the barges.
I love to fly, I am a pilot. I have a vintage aeroplane, a 1943 American military plane which was used in the Second World War and flown by the Royal Navy. I found it in America, flew it down from Washington DC to Florida and got it shipped over here. It’s one of only three still flying in the UK.
WHERE’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE CITY?
That’s an interesting question. I don’t really have one favourite part. Brindleyplace is a buzzy part of town. Then there’s the new library which looks stunning. And the Jewellery Quarter. Grand Central is great too. Then there’s the views of the wonderful city skyline which is constantly changing. Currently the view across where the old library was – before the Paradise Circus development is built – is amazing.
HOW CAN THE CITY BE MADE BETTER?
Like any city, we have some problems. Some of the east side areas have deprivation and worklessness. The transport links need to be made better. Our MPs are well aware of what needs improving. I am someone who looks on the optimistic side of things, and I believe we all should and can do something to make our city even better. We have a duty as business to help fix things. My predecessor as Chambers president, Greg Lowson, kicked off the corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign to improve the lives of our people. I do really sense an ever-increasing pride across this city of ours now.