Nick Silva – 20 Under 40


American Airlines
Education: SMU

Many young boys dream of taking to the skies as pilots, but Nick Silva turned that dream into a reality.

“The lightbulb moment was visiting the cockpit and getting a pair of plastic wings from the pilot when I was 6 years old,” he said.

Silva’s been a DFW-based Airbus pilot with American Airlines for the last seven years. In addition to flying, he chairs a national committee for the pilots’ union. He’s also an officer in the Air Force Reserves, where he’s worked for the last 16 years as an enlisted aircrew member, pilot, and liaison officer.

“Combined with a strong interest in business and entrepreneurship, hearing those stories gave me the motivation to take control of my own future so that I could always have something to fall back on.”

“My second lightbulb moment that drove me to pursue my MBA was hearing other airline pilots talk about their careers being devastated by 9/11,” he said. “Combined with a strong interest in business and entrepreneurship, hearing those stories gave me the motivation to take control of my own future so that I could always have something to fall back on.”

After graduating from SMU’s Cox School of Business, he started Crosswinds Consulting, where he works to help small businesses develop strategic plans to realize their potential.

When he’s not working, he coaches his son’s basketball and baseball teams and runs the Dads Club’s carpool program at Armstrong Elementary, where his son goes to school. Next year, he’ll be Dads Club president.

He’s also volunteered with Genesis Women’s Shelter HeROS program, which seeks to engage and mobilize men to volunteer to help the shelter’s efforts to end domestic violence. As part of the program, Silva’s helped host barbecues and other events throughout the year.

“I really appreciate what the Genesis Women’s Shelter does for those in need in the Dallas area, helping women and young children get out of truly heartbreaking situations to give themselves a better life,” Silva said. “I have enjoyed volunteering with friends through their HeROs program, helping host BBQs and other events throughout the year.”

Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?

Humility was the most difficult for me to develop. In my childhood, a lot of things came easy to me, and I didn’t take the time to appreciate what others brought to the table. When I was finally given a chance to lead in the military, I had to have the humility to bring out the talents of my teammates so that we could achieve the best results.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first job was making sandwiches at a Subway in my small hometown in Northern California. I was in high school and admittedly lacked some appreciation of hard work. That job taught me many things: how to serve others, the value of a dollar (85 cents after taxes are taken out), and how important an education would be to bettering myself.

Fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you:

While I am a military and commercial airline pilot, I am terrified of heights. Looking out of a window at 30,000 feet is no problem, but 6 feet up a ladder, and I start to get nervous.

Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?

I see myself continuing to be involved in my local schools, church, and family. Professionally, I hope to still be serving the pilot corps at American Airlines, while continuing to serve my consulting clients.

If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?

If my neighbor is spiritual, I would highly encourage Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. The daily Bible verses and short parables always provide a great perspective that reminds me where my priorities in life should be.

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

Don’t ever stop working hard: a day of hard work in your twenties is worth at least three of them in your thirties. Follow your dreams and make good decisions, even when they are difficult.

What’s on your bucket list?

My wife and I got married during a really hectic time in our lives, and I still have not been able to take her on the honeymoon she deserves. My bucket list item is to take her on a three-week vacation throughout Europe, especially to Switzerland.

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, former deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order.

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