New Zealand native and self-confessed travel lover, Pat Lucy is an Account Manager on the frontline at Avinode Group. Pat shares with us what customers need now more than ever, just why face-to-face interactions are so vital to his role, and the thing he misses most from back home.
Sweden is a long way from New Zealand, Pat. How did you end up on these shores?
Well, after I finished university, myself and a mate set off on our Overseas Experience (OE). That’s a big thing for employers in New Zealand. If you graduate and haven’t done an OE they can be a little reluctant to consider you.
We worked our way around, taking all kinds of jobs as we travelled; a juice bar in Germany, driving combine harvesters in 40 degree heat in the outback of Australia, that sort of thing. We’d visited Sweden and I’d met my now wife there. So, after travelling for two years on and off, I decided to come to check out life in Sweden with her.
Did you have any experience in aviation prior to joining Avinode?
No, I didn’t. I joined the Air Cadets when I was young, but apart from that, my passion for aviation really came from travelling. I studied Information’s Systems and the role at Avinode was a perfect fit because it combined planes with my tech background.
As an Account Manager you cover a lot of territories
Yeah, that’s right. I’m responsible for the UK, which is a really strong market. Then Malta sort of comes with the UK because a lot of UK aircraft are registered there. India is an exciting market because it’s really emerging. Then there’s Oceania, where there’s a high uptake of our additional products. There are a lot of Schedaero customers out there.
Tell me a little about your role
A large part of my job is helping customers realise how we can make their lives easier. Some can be reluctant to change. Instead of using Trip Manager, for example, which lets them send a quote in 30 seconds, they’ll spend 30 minutes in a Word document because they feel that hands-on, personal touch is better than an automated process.
The same is true with Paynode. Despite it being a tailored product for aviation, some people will rather use off-the-shelf solutions and pay high bank fees. That’s what they’ve always done. And that’s our biggest fight – getting people to understand the evolution of technology and how it helps them.
So, a lot of explaining the product benefits…
That’s right, and it’s here where COVID, and not being able to travel, has had a huge impact. When we could travel, I’d go and see customers and sit in their offices with their sales teams. I could watch how they work and see where information slipped through the cracks. Then I could show them how our products help reduce the risk of error and miscommunication.
It’s safe to say that you’re looking forward to getting back out there
I can’t wait to travel again. Socialising, meeting clients and going to events is a huge part of this industry. Also, seeing the customers’ pain points first-hand is so useful because we can feed that insight back into making our products even better.
Customers have found the past 18 months incredibly challenging. What do they want most from you and Avinode?
More than ever, they want exceptional customer service, which is what we provide. No matter how busy I am, if the customer sends an email, I acknowledge it quickly, even if I can’t deal with it straight away. It’s so important that they feel heard.
Great service also gives customers the confidence to try new products, such as Paynode, because they know they’ll always be supported. In an industry like ours where tech is at the forefront, that hand-holding is key.
And we’re perfectly placed to do that
For sure. We’ve really focused on streamlining how we work so every customer feels that they’ve got our full attention, which is difficult when you’ve got so many markets and customers. We’ve also made big improvements in our training, our awareness campaigns and obviously our products.
You’re also the Chairman of the NextGen Group, I believe
That’s right, I was elected earlier this year. The NextGen Group was born out of the Air Charter Association, which is the main association in Europe for private aviation. It’s heavily involved in lobbying the government in regulatory matters and issues such as illegal charters.
The NextGen Group was set up to connect with the young blood – from both inside and outside the industry – that are already working in the sector or may choose to in the future. There are seven of us on the committee, and we pursue a number of initiatives. These include engaging with young talent within member businesses to get them more involved, reaching out to groups such as final year university students to highlight the possible career opportunities open to them within aviation, and working with charities such as fly2help.
Do you find time for anything else?
I do, yeah. I have two young kids and we’re a pretty outdoorsy family, not to mention very animal-orientated. We live in the city but we have some land and we keep chickens, rabbits and cows.
I also have an electric trials motorbike and I make great use of the forests that surround us by zipping around. When I’m not doing that I’m in the water, either fishing or on a stand-up paddleboard.
So, you don’t miss New Zealand at all then?
It really is pretty awesome here in Sweden, and I love the seasons. When the sun comes out, the whole country comes alive. The only downside is the surf. I grew up surfing and I must admit I really miss the waves.
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