Ralph Cutié: Aims to build airport capacity to 77 million fliers a year
Ralph Cutié, director and CEO of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, usually starts his day at 6:45 a.m. The day runs between walking the terminal and meetings with aviation staff, contractors, the mayor’s office and county commissioners, until he leaves between 6:30 and 7 p.m. “I try to be hands-on and I try to be accessible all the time, so my door is always open and people come in and out,” he said.
With almost 100 carriers at Miami International Airport (MIA) the responsibilities are not little. But Mr. Cutié has a 31-year career at the county. For 16 years he worked at the Transit Department, first as a scheduling engineer on the Metromover extension to downtown, and on large projects such as the Metrorail extension to the Palmetto Expressway. He was later promoted throughout the department and ultimately became chief of the Project Control Division.
He then worked at the Office of Capital Improvements, a department that no longer exists. Among other things, he worked on the Building Better Communities General Obligation Bond Program. The office was later consolidated into the Internal Services Department, where Mr. Cutié ran the Design and Construction section.
For the past eight and a half years he has been serving in the Aviation Department. He started as division director for the department’s Facilities Maintenance Planning, Engineering and Construction Division. After four years, he was promoted to assistant director of the department’s Facilities Management and Engineering Division.
In June he was appointed interim director for the entire Aviation Department and starting in September he became the official director.
As the aviation and travel industry recovers, MIA still faces challenges such as that 30% to 40% of concessionaires remain closed as they cannot find and retain staff; a land acquisition program to increase the footprint of the airport; and efforts to recruit airlines in an airport that is working at limited capacity due to renovation underway at concourse F. Still, he is optimistic about working around and getting more flights into MIA.
Mr. Cutié said he tries to lead by example and has a daily reminder at his office, a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower: “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head. That’s assault, not leadership. Leadership isn’t about just pushing your own ideas, but a conversation that demands mutual respect.” His favorite part, he said, is “leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because they want to do it.”
Apart from being director and CEO of the Aviation Department, Mr. Cutié is a proud husband and father, an avid runner and loves to work out. Even though he is on call 24/7, he makes time to spend with his family and to read history books, especially World War II history and space program history.
Mr. Cutié spoke with Miami Today reporter Gabriela Henriquez Stoikow.
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