When Tony Conza was a kid, he dreamed of becoming a pilot. His father worked for an airline, so the family flew all over the world, and young Tony spent a lot of time in the air.
When he told a pilot of his aspirations, he got some unexpected advice.
“He told me, ‘If you want to be a pilot become a doctor or a lawyer and buy your own plane,’ ” Conza said. “Of course, I ended up doing neither of those things.”
But Conza held onto his fascination with everything having to do with aviation, and about a year ago, he joined TPA as a senior commercial analyst.
That means he’s a number cruncher. He looks at statistics, combines them with trends and other variables and gives administrators a look at where the airport is heading and when it’s going to get there.
For example, he might look at the number of cars coming into the airport parking garages every day, look at such trends as population growth, and the airport’s expanding role in international travel. Then he comes up with figures about how much traffic can be expected in the coming years. Other departments within the aviation authority use those figures to make business decisions.
Conza grew up in Pinellas County, and graduated from St. Petersburg Catholic High School.
He loves sports, especially baseball, and even when he was a kid he spent hours analyzing sports statistics.
He majored in finance at the University of Florida, figuring he’d end up working on Wall Street.
But his first job out of college took him to Grand Rapids, Mich. It was there that he met his wife, Tabatha, and Wall Street didn’t seem so important anymore.
“Family’s the most important thing to me,” he said. “There are all different kinds of success, and for me being successful isn’t just about money. It’s providing a quality of life for myself, my wife and my kids.”
He and his wife have a son and a daughter on the way.
Family’s so important to Conza that he and his wife left Michigan and moved back to Pinellas.
“I wanted to be closer to my parents,” he said.
He worked for a beverage company for a while, where his analyses included examination of how much juice and soda people might drink in the coming years.
It was okay, but when he noticed an online listing for a job opening at TPA, he jumped at the chance.
He had only been in his new position for a week or two before he was charged with the task of creating a comprehensive projection of the airport’s future for the next 20 years. There were innumerable factors to take into account, from new businesses coming to the Tampa Bay area, TPA’s evolving mission to service as a gateway to West Central Florida, the growth of international travel to and from TPA, and anticipated changes in the economy.
“Up until then I had done projections about juice and soda consumption, where all you have to factor in is things like obesity rates,” he said. “I looked at this not so much as a challenge, but as an opportunity to show people what I could do.”
He’s been at TPA for a little over a year now, and he says he loves the work.
“It’s so great when I meet people, people from all over the country, and I tell them I work at Tampa International Airport,” he said. “Their eyes light up and they say, ‘Oh, I love that airport.’ It’s really great to be to be a part of that.”