Acro Tag

Michelle Shaffer Q&A

Michelle image with template

We’ve been finding out more about the people behind our award-winning products here at Acro in a series of Q&As focusing on what continues to make our company the market leader it is today.

In our latest instalment we sat down with Michelle Shaffer, General Manager of Customer Relations, to find out more about what her role entails, and what we can expect to find her doing when she’s not taking care of our highly valued customers here at Acro.

What does your work as Acro’s General Manager of Customer Relations involve?

I am involved at the start of the sales life cycle in overseeing the bid management process and the handover to programme management. Following first article inspection, when the products involved go into production, that’s where I come back in, supporting customers’ recommended spare parts list and aftermarket needs as part of a 360-degree process we like to call ‘Acro Care’.

How does your role differ to that of your sales colleagues working to promote Acro’s market leading products, compared to your work supporting customers once a contract is in place?

It’s my job to check in with customers and make sure they are happy with the programme overall. It is also part of my role to maintain relationships, as well as nurture new connections, and I’ve been working with some of our customers for 10 years or more, often visiting the US on a quarterly basis to help with this. In customer relations, we’re essentially the ‘go to’ for all the points of contact throughout the programme, from the engineering team and production staff right through the rest of the Acro team and representing the customer at every stage in the process. It’s a really vibrant and fun place to be, and there is never a dull day!

How did you come to work in aircraft interiors originally and what is it about the industry that has continued to drive your career within the sector to date?

My career began in HR with a seating supplier in the USA, where I was immediately struck by the industry’s excitement and glamour. Working with a leading supplier of first class cabin seating, I was inspired by the quality and scale of our operations. From there, I progressed into programme management, and my career in the aerospace sector took off from there really. It’s a very fast-moving industry and I never get bored. I love working with the customers too and fortunately I also love to travel, so all in all it suits me very much.

Much of your professional experience prior to Acro involved working with manufacturers in the USA — are there elements of this work that you’ve brought to your UK-based role with Acro?

I think my success in my current role as General Manager for Customer Relations at Acro is less about what I brought to my role here in the UK from the USA, and more about my global customer experience. Working in different roles for various organisations across the globe has really opened my eyes to the different cultures and the way different customers do business in their own ways too.

The Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg is renowned for creating new sales opportunities for industry leaders like Acro. How does attending this event benefit customer relations teams specifically?

With a decade of experience in the aircraft interiors industry, there are a lot of customers that I have been working with in one capacity or another and have known for a long time now. It’s so nice to be able to catch up with them all at events like AIX and find out what’s been happening with them all, often on a personal as well as a professional level with many. It’s a relatively small sector globally speaking and events like AIX are key in bringing the whole aircraft interiors community together on all kinds of levels.

Your experience within the aerospace sector goes back more than a decade, with much of that time spent in Program Management roles — how has this helped you succeed in your current role managing customer relations for Acro?

Working in Programme Management is quite structured and you’re constantly making sure you’re meeting deadlines, that the team are working in a way that’s going to help you meet those milestones, and that ultimately, you’re going to be able to deliver the products required on time. In customer relations we’re still pushing the supply chain, but we’re also taking care of the customer relationship and working across all departments to make sure everyone gets what they need and when, with the customer’s best interests at the forefront throughout.

Are there any standout moments that come to mind in the time you have been working with Acro and why are they special to you if so?

I was at a trade show for a US customer just recently and it’s customary for organisers of such events to lay out all the products that are available in the same room for the prospective airline to show them a summary of what’s on offer. The Acro seats were head and shoulders above the rest, and it made me really proud to be there representing the Acro brand and all the amazing products we provide.

What is your favourite way to pass the time when you’re not supporting Acro customers with all of their after sales needs?

As I mentioned previously, I absolutely love to travel with my husband and I am always planning my next getaway (which at the time of this interview is an upcoming Scandinavian cruise). I also have two beautiful dogs, a Lurcher and a French Bulldog, who regularly take me for walks and, as I’m originally from Arizona, keeping up with family and friends at home and making time to visit them regularly is really important to me too.