In our Bright Lights series, we’re showcasing some of our brilliant employees and their experience here at STG Aerospace. In this month’s feature we talked to Rosalia Piazza, our Regional Sales Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
In a nutshell, tell us a little bit about your career journey to this point
Many of my colleagues had a very different career journey to me and come from an engineering background, but I’m nothing like that. I have a diploma in Psychology and came into the aviation world purely by luck. In fact, I was managing a Costa Coffee shop in West Sussex, and one of my lovely customers came in and said, you speak three languages and you’re wasted here serving us!
My immediate response was no, I’m not going to London. I’m a country girl at heart, and I’m happy where I am, but then my customer pointed out that there was a job going at an aviation company close to where I was living. So I thought, why not?
I got an interview for a sales position, and after a coffee and a chat, they offered me a job. The person who was to become my team leader had absolute confidence in my sales ability. The coffee wasn’t great, but I’ll always be grateful for that person who saw potential in me!
At first it was a challenge. But after a month and some training, everyone knew who I was. Lacking a background in engineering I had to learn fast, selling consumables, rotables and everything in between. I was constantly asking for help!
After a while though, everything just fell into place. It wasn’t long before I was working on their major accounts, and doing multi-million pound deals. I knew it was important to remember there was a person on the other end of the phone. So for me, it’s always been about building relationships with customers.
It was really that trust that I built with my customers, which led me to be approached for the role at STG Aerospace. I never hid my start at Costa Coffee when I first arrived in UK from Italy. I’m proud of how I began, and it shows other people that you can change career and sectors, especially in a sales position - you just need to be able to work well with people.
You’ve been with STG for six years now, what was it about the company that appealed to you?
STG is a really innovative company. They’re always looking at how they can improve things, how to continually develop. It’s what’s helped them thrive in such a highly competitive market. It’s also an agile company. Our relatively small size, compared to many of our competitors, enables us to adapt and move fast when we need to. The aerospace market is constantly changing, and requires its suppliers to be able to adapt with it.
STG also really cares about its customers. As part of the sales team, that’s of paramount importance to me. I’m not technical, but I have an amazing team behind me, supporting me and my customers with their lighting requirements. That’s what makes us successful. We all bring our strength and expertise to projects, and working as a team, we’ve become a kind of work family. It really is a superb culture here.
How has connecting globally with people influenced your thinking or approach at STG?
Aerospace is a world where you’re regularly sitting at the table with people from different countries and cultures. We learn from each other on both a personal and cultural level. That’s what I love about my role. There’s no prescriptive script, you adapt your approach, to individual customers, their specific challenges and cultures. It’s a matter of working in partnership customers and being their emergency exit or cabin lighting expert adviser.
What’s your favourite moment at STG so far?
It has to be selling a product that was under development. My customer trusted me and the team to deliver and place the advance order to be our launch customer – and of course we delivered successfully! That’s what makes me get up in the morning and go to work, to gain the trust of my customers, and always deliver.
Also, when customers say that I’m not their standard salesperson, that’s really important to me. They recognise that I’m never going to push to sell them something. It’s about understanding their requirements and how we can help them. People need the time to breathe and to think. I give them space.
What have you learned from working at STG?
Well, this whole engineering world was unknown to me! For me, it’s understanding our customer journey and the passenger experience. I see things so differently now when I travel. I really try to be that passenger – what do they see, what do they look at, is the seat comfortable, is the floor path marking system as it should be? I notice all the details now, and of course I’m hyper-aware! The whole STG team are obsessed with it, and if they see a something that can be improved from a lighting perspective, they get to work on it.
With AIX just around the corner, what are you looking forward to the most?
AIX is always an exciting time for us and the products we’re launching this year include some world firsts, which you have to experience on our stand! I’ve really missed engaging with customers face to face. There is nothing like being able to gauge how things are going in a real-world situation and showcase our latest developments live to the industry.
Tell us something unexpected about STG
When the pandemic came along, STG adapted brilliantly. Now I’m fully based remotely (previously I was in the office once a month). I do miss being on-site when I see an email about someone has cake in the kitchen (we do love our food!), but largely it’s worked really well. I actually have more contact with a wider range of colleagues working remotely, than I did going into the office. They really care about our wellbeing, and I think that’s reflected in the way we work with our customers, too.