Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Patricia Batista, Founder, and CEO of International Institute for Tourism and Aviation (IITA), located in Faro, Portugal.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

My business and passion is training. I have a company in the UK fully dedicated to aviation and two in Portugal, one with several areas of intervention and the latest launched in September dedicated to Tourism and Aviation. We specialise in lifelong, vocational, and technical training. Our vision is to train and educate the next generation of professionals in this fast-growing society. Our customers are schools, companies, and individuals who want to enter or change to one of our areas of expertise. In our latest venture - IITA - we are a multidisciplinary team (pilots, engineers, dispatchers, hotel managers, teachers, trainers, psychologists, and others) with over 25 years of experience in aviation ground operations and tourism and our mission with to make synergies with local and international authorities, secondary and professional schools, airlines, ground handlers and hotels to tackle the global challenge of shortage of skills. Our teaching methodology is active and integrative. We use tech-enabled learning approaches, including virtual reality, which reduces our partner's and employer's operational costs and increases the student's immersive experience and motivation.

Tell us about yourself

I started in aviation in Portugal at 17, during a gap year before university, and crossed paths with the tourism business after that. During this period, training naturally came to me, with my superiors asking me to develop or deliver line training. During my gap year, I also had the experience with an NGO to provide education to impoverished communities in Africa. At this point, although my goal was to become a psychologist, my passion for talent development was already visible. In 2005 I moved to the UK to do my doctorate in psychology, and I've worked for the NHS for about 10 years, 7 of which is a mental health acute ward. During this period, again, training crossed my path, and I became the ward's MDT trainer for a number of subjects, as well as for service users and families. In 2012 I decided to return to aviation to develop experience in organisational psychology. Alongside an operational management position, I supported the development of the training department. I was very clear at this point that training and helping people reach their full potential was my calling.

In 2013, at the age of 36, I co-founded my first company in the UK. At the time, I pioneered a business model in which I developed short vocational courses for candidates wanting to enter aviation ground operations and, working alongside aviation employers, would link them directly for job interviews after concluding the course successfully. From here, the growth happened naturally. In 2018 I launched an international aviation academy in the UK and an institute in Portugal (IFD Portugal), and in 2020, the International Institute for Tourism and Aviation (IITA), also in Portugal.

As a true believer that it is possible to earn a living by doing what we love, my daily motivation is actually to work with teams that are as passionate about talent development. Our vision of training philosophy is person-centered; thus, our impact on our student's lives is less and less about acquiring technical knowledge to get a job and more about them having the confidence to make choices and informed decisions about what makes them happy.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

In the world of business, reaching success has a lot to do with vision and hard work. To sustain that success, you need teams and clients that feel inspired by you every day - and not every day is a good day! I'm proud that even on my bad days, my principles, dreams, vision, and goals still inspire my teams and clients. I believe in collaborative work and a place for everyone to shine, even if that's not always the most profitable. So, my biggest accomplishment is earning money by doing what I love, allowing others to do the same, and teaching others how to get there.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The commitment to keep the door open, ensure everyone can pay their bills, and still have the right energy around most days.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Dream.
  2. Plan, prepare, and organise.
  3. Take calculated risks, but take them!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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