In our Bright Lights series, we’re showcasing some of our brilliant employees and their experience of working here at STG Aerospace. We spoke to Zac Jones, a Buyer in our Supply Chain team, to find out more about how he discovered his love of the industry, his pathway to a career in supply chain, and his experiences since joining STG.
When Zac Jones started his university course in Business Management, he wasn’t sure where it would take him. After gaining experience in a number of different disciplines – from marketing to logistics, economics to supply chain management – he knew it was the latter that had piqued his interest.
The scope was still broad though, and it took a few weeks of work placement at Zodiac Seats (now Safran), where his father worked, that quickly evolved into a full year, for Zac to know aerospace was the sector for him. Zac's father still works at Safran today and jokes that he sparked Zac’s interest in aerospace. After leaving Zodiac, Zac took up positions at companies in electronics and in office furniture, but when the opportunity arose to join a newly formed team at STG and return to the aerospace sector, it was too good to pass up.
It hasn’t been an easy couple of years for professionals working in the supply chain, however. Lee Harrhy, our Head of Operations, told us how much of an impact that Covid-19, Brexit and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have had on the industry when we spoke to him, and those are thoughts that Zac echoes. Difficult though it has been, he enjoys the challenge.
“It has caused chaos with material shortages, price increases and everything else,” he explains, “it’s been a headache. But those challenges are there to be solved and that’s a really enjoyable part of the job, that’s what really drives me.
“We also have an important role to play in creating more sustainable products. We want to contribute as much as we can to improving sustainability within the sector, and while we know there is a lot of work to be done, it’s another factor that presents an enjoyable challenge, the sourcing of more sustainable materials that met the stringent aerospace requirements.
“It can be frustrating, but in equal measure it’s amazing when you find your way around a problem or come up with a solution.”
When Zac tells people he’s a Buyer, he’s often met with quizzical looks. It’s an inconspicuous and unassuming job title that leaves many people asking more questions than it had answered but, without them, the whole supply chain grinds to a halt.
“I get that a lot,” Zac laughed. “We do lots, but our main focus is sourcing and purchasing materials to fulfil the Materials Resourcing Plan (MRP) and to support production. It goes off into lots of other elements like NPI (New Product Integration), processing, purchase order requisitions and things like that, but that’s the crux of it.
“We work with the production teams to make sure they have what they need, and we work with quality teams. It’s quite over-arching and it keeps us on our toes, and that’s the benefit of being at a smaller more agile company – everyone is pulling together in the same direction.”
Zac joined STG at the beginning of 2022 and stepped into a relatively new supply chain team, which has since seen change. Supply Chain Manager Sue Giles, was one of a number of key hires who, alongside Zac, have strengthened the team. Together, they bring aerospace experience together with a combined knowledge, history and a range of transferrable skills, that make them an effective unit.
“We’re driving change in a really positive way,” Zac says. “I’ve come back into aerospace, other team members have experience of other sectors, and Sue has really hit the ground running coming in to manage us. We’re continually improving what we’re doing and everyone is contributing to that.
“We’ve now got a really solid team, all with different experiences behind us, and we’re aligned with where we want to go. Change always happens, but it’s how you deal with it that counts, and I think our team and STG as a whole, have handled everything in a really positive way.”
So, is it an environment he’d recommend to other people?
“Absolutely,” he quickly responded. “Not only is everyone welcoming and friendly, but everyone is really knowledgeable and brings their own expertise to the table. I’ve never been in a company quite like it, where everyone from the leadership team down, actively works to create such a welcoming work environment, and that makes the job so much easier.
“At those bigger companies you end up just being a number – that’s just how it works – but that’s never been the case at STG.”