Acro Tag

Paula Liu Q&A

Paula profile image with template

We’ve been catching up with the people behind the products as part our ongoing series of Q&A sessions with the team that makes Acro the market leader it is today.

For our latest instalment, we caught up with Paula Liu, our International Sales Manager in China. Paula has more than two decades of experience in the aerospace industry working with a wide range of aircraft interior suppliers. We asked Paula about the changes she’s seen within that time, and where she is planning to take Acro next.

Can you give us an outline of what your role and responsibilities involve as Acro’s International Sales Manager for China?

I’m responsible for sales and market development for Acro in China and the surrounding region, including pre and post-sales communication, customer service and customer relationship management. I also support communications between the different departments at Acro, our customers and aircraft OEMs, freight forwarders, equipment suppliers and MROs in the region too.

What do you enjoy most about your work with Acro since you joined the company three years ago, and what do you hope to achieve moving forward?

I’ve worked in sales with other manufacturers in aviation, but what stands out about my time with Acro is the opportunities I’ve had to learn and develop. I’m directly responsible for sales in my region but, alongside this, I’ve been supported to learn about the full product lifecycle at Acro too. Learning about every stage, from new product development to sales training, has not only given me a deeper understanding of Acro products but has also made me better equipped to discuss the benefits they offer with airlines too. The most satisfying part of my job is that pivotal moment when all the pieces align, and we get to sign a new contract with a customer.

With your extensive experience working in the aircraft interiors industry, what would you say is the biggest change within the sector that you have seen within that time?

The biggest change I’ve seen during my time in the aviation interiors industry is the shift in emphasis from airlines looking to select interior cabin equipment that can support the reduction of emissions. Customers are increasingly prioritising weight over anything else when making key fitting decisions, alongside ease of sanitation as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be felt too. I’ve received some really positive feedback from airlines on Acro’s new Series 9 in meeting both of these needs recently, as well as comments praising its sleek design.

Alongside seating specifically, you’ve worked across a range of product lines throughout your career to date — are there any common issues and themes running throughout that you’ve been able to identify within that time, and can talk more about here?

One common issue I’ve seen throughout my career is the importance of getting timely approval from aircraft manufacturers for inclusion in the Buyer Furnished Equipment (BFE) catalogue, for when airlines select new aircraft. Airlines will quite simply be unwilling to take the risk if you’re not on the BFE catalogue. This and finding the right solution at the right cost have always been significant to the work that I do — no matter how excellent the design is or how much work has gone into achieving certification for a product, final negotiations will always come down to cost.

How important are key industry events like the Hamburg Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) to your work?

The annual Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg is the largest event globally of its kind. AIX not only attracts the key players from airlines in terms of those responsible for aircraft acquisition, equipment selection, marketing and service quality, it’s also the place to be to meet aircraft OEMs, MROs and equipment suppliers too. As a global gathering of all these key players from across the industry, AIX is hugely important to my work as a platform offering potential clients the opportunity to get to know our latest products first hand. By meeting customers face to face on our stand I can make sure they have an in-depth understanding of Acro’s products and our design principles. I can also get their valuable feedback and make sure we are keeping ahead of market demand and customer requirements too. Simply, AIX creates untold benefits for my relationships with customers and brings airlines closer to Acro too.

Some of your most recent work has been exploring possible collaborations with the up-and-coming Chinese aircraft manufacturer COMAC — can you tell us a bit about what their aircraft have to offer the industry, and how they’re set to make a difference within the market both locally, and globally too?

My colleagues and I are working hard to support Acro in becoming a BFE seating supplier for COMAC. The launch of commercial operations for China’s domestically-produced COMAC C919 passenger aircraft has had a hugely positive impact on the development of its civil aviation industry, including its industrial supply chain. With the COMAC C919, China has combined a domestically designed passenger aircraft with the global sourcing of parts and, in the process, been able to gradually improve its industrial localisation rate.

China also has a huge advantage in developing its own domestically produced aircraft: a vibrant and burgeoning civil aviation market. But at the same time, COMAC still has some hurdles to overcome in making its presence felt locally and globally. Progress still needs to be made on market orientation, perfecting the regulatory ecosystem and improving COMAC’s international marketability.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I’m passionate about what I do, which sometimes makes it hard for me to swich off, but I’ve discovered how vital it is to find joy beyond work throughout my career too. I practise yoga three times a week (a habit I’ve been able to keep up for nearly 10 years now), play badminton once a week and spend as much time as I can with my family, friends and my dog. All these things are good for my relationships with family and friends and, most of all, they keep me healthy. Without this balance, I wouldn’t be able to apply myself to the standard I expect of myself at work either.