‘You never know what a day will bring.’ A spotlight on Pam Chapman
As our Group Office Administrator, Pam gets to wear many hats and handle everything ‘officey’, as she says. However, this doesn’t really reflect the depth of experience she now has across the company, from liaising with the engineers for orders to dealing with agents and even pitching in with the sales team.
Also now handling freight logistics in tandem with our Logistics Manager James Eman, Pam’s days are varied, rewarding and sometimes unpredictable! She took time out from making sure the office was organised ahead of a well-earned break to talk about her role here at aae technologies.
How would you describe your role at aae technologies?
Very varied at the moment! When I first joined in 2008, I started as an assistant to the technical manager and covered the admin side of repairs. Since then, obviously, the company has grown in terms of output and people, and more recently I’ve moved more into freight and logistics, which is mainly what I do at the moment.
I enjoy it because every day is different, and you never know if you might get something challenging thrown at you. ‘Office Administrator’ is just what’s at the bottom of my emails, but I cover pretty much everything that goes on in the office. As I know all the jobs, I stand in when people are away or support while we’re waiting for new staff to start, as well as handling general admin. If needs be, I do it!
What originally brought you to joining the company?
Before aae, I spent eight years at Sanyo, the television manufacturer, working in the engineering department. I was creating service information and used to produce the manuals that went down to the service department with the parts list, and so on. So I had a background in technical information, which wasn’t a million miles away from what I started doing at aae.
In 2008, there were rumours Sanyo was going to close down (which eventually it did), and one or two engineers I used to work with came here. I heard aae were looking for somebody in the office, so I decided, rather than wait around, to get myself into the jobs market before it became flooded. I got the interview and the rest is history!
The whole oceanography and subsea equipment side was completely new to me – and I’m still not technical at all – but I have learned a lot and love all the testing and clever work we do here.
What’s been your biggest highlight?
This job is always satisfying, so it’s hard to say if there’s been one particular highlight. But on a personal level, as part of working more in logistics, I undertook more training and gained a Foundation Award in International Trade, which is a recognised qualification in the industry. It involved five different courses covering all the aspects of logistics – there’s a lot more to logistics than simply packaging something and sending it off. I never thought I’d go to college again and do anything like that after all these years!
What’s been your biggest challenge?
In terms of logistics, Brexit has been a big challenge. But on the whole, with any kind of challenge, the key thing is having other people in the office to bounce off. Everyone here will always have a way to solve an issue in-house, and it’s often just a matter of constantly asking questions and getting someone else’s opinion. Our logistics manager, James, has been great to have on hand.
Regular challenges are the nature of the business when you’re sending things to such a wide variety of locations, for different uses. We were saying we should put pins on a map of all the countries we’ve sent to, and see which ones we haven’t yet! Some locations are more challenging to get to than others, but we usually find a way to get our equipment where it needs to be.
What’s been the most remote place you’ve sent things to?
Recently, we sent an item directly to Bangladesh, which you might not call remote, but was quite challenging. We do also send equipment up to The Orkneys, which can be complicated logistically, as they’re all little islands on their own in the sea, so it has to go via the north Scottish coast and then out on ferries. There was another time when our technical manager had to fly out to Alaska to do some testing on equipment. The phone signal there wasn’t good!
A lot of the time we deal with agents internationally and send equipment to them before they send it on to the end-user, so we don’t often have to deal with any extremely remote places. On the other end of the scale, we sometimes meet vessels making a port of call locally in Great Yarmouth, and then it’s always a quick turn-around: “We’re in port, only here for 24 hours. We’ve got this piece of kit. Can you take it off? Can you get it back on?” We always do our best to make it work.
“I’m really excited about new people joining the team, with fresh thoughts and ideas.”
What do you love most about the job?
I like unexpected surprises. Day-to-day, you know what’s going out and you have a plan for dispatch, but you also don’t know what might get thrown into the mix. Overnight, something could have happened with an order, or a new order has come in that has to be turned around that day. All of a sudden, there are half a dozen things going on and you just have to deal with it. It’s never boring.
What do clients love most about what you do?
We’ve got a great technical support team behind us, and clients get all-around good customer service right from when they purchase equipment from us through to after-sales care. There is always somebody available on a mobile number 24-7 should a client need help, and engineers are on a rota to cover nighttime hours for people who might be calling from all around the world. You can’t really do better than support like that. Customer service is king.
Do you think that’s what makes aae technologies unique?
Yes, I think it does, and it counts for a lot. You could sell anything, but if you don’t provide the backup to go with it, then customers aren’t going to come back. We send engineers out with the kit when they buy it, to give customers training and show people how to use it, and we like to make sure our service is the best.
What are you excited about for the future?
We’ve got some new kit coming out, but I’m more excited about the new people that will be coming on board to join the team. We’ve got people who have been here for 20 plus years, and it’s great that we have that depth of experience, but we still need new people to come in with fresh thoughts and ideas. Hollie Moran has brought an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm – she’s so forward-thinking and has done wonders with our marketing.
The new products and new Pyxis’ INS + USBL system we’ve launched look fresh, modern and dynamic thanks to people like Hollie’s input, which customers notice. That’s the difference new ideas can make.
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