From Finance to Flight

PROVO, Utah – May 13, 2020 – BYU Marriott finance alum Trevor Findlay treasures a clear memory from his early childhood: eagerly looking up to the sky, waiting for jets to fly by. He was at one of many air shows that his grandfather, then a vice president at Boeing, had taken him to—a bonding activity they both loved. Findlay also often found himself admiring a collection of model planes in his grandfather’s home office. Findlay’s fascination with aviation and the bond he had created with his grandfather would eventually lead him to his future career as a pilot. 

When Findlay and his grandfather weren’t attending air shows, they were talking about special projects Boeing was doing and discussing the different types of aircraft in the World War II documentaries they enjoyed watching together. This was when his dream to fly was born, and once he decided he wanted fly Apache helicopters, his path was clear: he needed to join the United States Army.

In order to become a pilot in the army, one must become an army officer, and one path to achieving the officer rank is receiving a college degree from a university with an ROTC program. The United States Army ROTC program provides students with scholarship money while they receive officer training and pursue college degrees. With this in mind, in 2009 Findlay began school at the BYU Marriott School of Business studying finance and joined BYU’s Army ROTC to help pay for his education and give him the necessary experience and skills to prepare for his future career.

Studying finance for Findlay seemed like the right fit because the summer between his freshman and sophomore year he had read many finance books and couldn’t get enough of them. In addition, Jim Brau, a professor of finance at BYU Marriott and the professor who taught his finance 201 class, also helped him decide to pursue finance and had a big impact on him during his time in the program. 

“Brother Brau is the one who made me fall in love with finance,” says Findlay. “He was a former army officer as well, which helped build my interest in his class, and I connected with what he was teaching.”

Along with the finance program, BYU’s Army ROTC program and the relationships Findlay formed there were a big part of his college career. “The highlight of my experience with the ROTC would definitely be the camaraderie,” says Findlay. “You are with the same people all four years you are in school. Even though you are essentially competing against them, you see them more like your closest buddies.”

While in the Army ROTC, Findlay also learned how to be an effective leader. During his senior year at BYU, Findlay was a cadet battalion commander for the Service First Battalion, which includes the BYU, Utah Valley University, Southern Utah University, and at the time, Dixie State University ROTC programs. “The ROTC defines your leadership because you are in the challenging environment of everyone being on equal footing as you go through the entire program with the same cadets,” he says. “You learn how to get people to follow you, believe in your choices, and believe in you as a person.”

After graduating from BYU Marriott in 2015, Findlay moved to Alabama where he started flight school with the aviation department of the US Army. The process to get certified to fly for the army takes about two years, during which Findlay also obtained his private pilot’s license in his spare time. He currently holds the rank of captain and exclusively flies AH-64 Apache helicopters. In 2017, Findlay received his first deployment and was sent to Iraq as a platoon leader. 

For Findlay, being a helicopter pilot helps him feel connected to the soldiers he is serving alongside. “I chose to fly helicopters because I view the mission set as being more exciting,” he says. “Helicopters operate at high speeds while close to the ground, and when I perform close combat attacks from my Apache, I can look out and see the actual American soldiers right below me on the ground that I am supporting.”

Findlay returned from Iraq in 2018 and is preparing for the next step in his career. He will soon be moving to Kansas with his wife, Monse, and their one-year-old son, Luke, where Findlay will be taking over as a company commander, giving him more opportunities to lead and mentor. 

Findlay is grateful for his BYU Marriott education; the skills he learned in the finance program have helped him in mentoring young soldiers as they prepare for their future. Though he doesn’t directly use his finance degree in his occupation, he uses the skills he learned to help him solve problems. “I don’t do a lot of hard math or finance on a day-to-day basis, but I see a lot of challenges and problems that are unique and don’t have a predefined solution,” says Findlay. “I use a lot of logical steps and processes that you learn through math and finance to help find those solutions.”

As he looks back on his career thus far, Findlay has nothing but good things to say about being in the army. “The most rewarding part about being in the army is getting to see the fruits of your labor, especially as a leader,” says Findlay. “At the end of the day, I land and sleep right next to the soldiers who I support. There is no greater feeling than coming to the aid of soldiers in a firefight and then having those same soldiers come to find you later at the base to express their gratitude.”

Trevor Findlay and his son in front of an AH-64 Apache helicopter.
Trevor Findlay and his son in front of an AH-64 Apache helicopter. Photo courtesy of Trevor Findlay.
The view while Trevor Findlay flew an AH-64 Apache helicopter.
The view while Trevor Findlay flew an AH-64 Apache helicopter. Photo courtesy of Trevor Findlay.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Natalie Heidemann