It’s not uncommon for Tampa International Airport to attract employees who grew up with fascination for airplanes.
The Aviation Authority’s Director of Information Technology Services, David James, does one better: He was born on a plane.
David’s mother was on a flight to a U.S. military base in England to reunite with his father. As the plane was en route to the military base, she went into labor and gave birth to David.
Medics rushed to her side after the landing, and everyone was okay, but David’s father was nowhere to be seen. He had been redeployed to another country, unexpectedly, and was unable to notify David’s mother quickly enough. David and his mother were flown back to Italy; David’s birth certificate says he was born in Rome.
David was raised by his grandparents in Italy while his parents moved around the world on military assignments. They eventually settled in England, and when David was 11, he went to go live with his parents.
David attended University of Bristol, where he obtained a Geography degree. He wanted to be a land surveyor, but when he graduated, the country was in a recession and there were no jobs available in that field.
“My father was totally intolerant of me not having a job,” David said. “He said, ‘You’re going to come work with me (at a British telephone company). I became a telephone guy.”
After some years of “telephone guy work,” David was promoted into the information technology department, working with mainframe, VAX and other systems of the early 1980s.
“I loved it,” David said. “I’ve always been a numbers guy, and once I realized it was just a lot of working with math, it fascinated me.”
David then worked for Intergraph Corporation, a computer graphics company, as a consultant in the telephone industry for 11 years. When the company approached him about moving to the U.S., he and his wife and two children moved to Huntsville, Ala., for seven years, and eventually transferred to the Tampa Bay area.
Since moving to the area, he worked for the City of Tampa and Pinellas County, overseeing IT teams that implemented national award-winning websites, among other accomplishments.
In December, he came to work for Tampa International Airport to direct the IT Department, a position he has loved so far. Among some of his team’s biggest projects: A new TPA website “that’s going to blow everyone away” in October; a business intelligence system that will help the airport analyze and identify trends and patterns in airport data; a new budgeting system that will automate the budget process; a new HR system that will eventually help the airport go paperless; and rebuilding the airport’s entire voice and data network as Master Plan construction gets underway.
David lives with his wife in Dunedin, where he enjoys a simple Florida lifestyle. He kayaks and likes to relax on Honeymoon Island. His 30-year-old son works in the UK at Microsoft and his 28-year-old daughter who lives in town and studied photojournalism.
One more interesting fact about David: His birth name is actually Dai (Welsh for David). But that’s another story for another time.