Wendy Ingram – 2Excel’s Customer Account Manager
Customer Accounts Manager Wendy Ingram is part of 2Excel’s Commercial Team, a department dedicated to customer care. We delve into the life of an account manager and what the role involves.
Wendy’s ambition to work in aviation was inspired from a young age; she enjoyed STEM subjects at school, and spent her earlier years as an Air Cadet and Engineering Apprentice. Here’s how Wendy made her journey to 2Excel Engineering…
Wendy, tell us how you got into the industry?
At school I enjoyed science and technology subjects (STEM) and my main hobby was as an Air Cadet, and so it was a natural progression for me to become an aircraft engineer. My school held a WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) course when I was able to hear from a range of established female engineers. I decided to join my local Further Education College on a BTEC course for Electrical Engineering after leaving school and I was lucky enough to be offered an Apprenticeship with British Airways at Heathrow in its April 1990 cohort.
Some of the most memorable highlights during my apprenticeship were being part of a team changing an engine on Concorde, enjoying a placement within the Flight Simulator department and meeting Neil Kinnock during his election campaign – I was the Chair of the Apprentice Association at the time. My final placement was in the B747 casualty hangar on permanent nights (tech 6), which was interesting and provided varied work in getting the aircraft ready to fly the next day.
After completing my apprenticeship, and an HNC in Aeronautical Engineering, I had a range of roles with British Airways Engineering and British Airways. I was part of the initial Business Process re-engineering team, before moving on to being part of the Engineering communications team. I then worked to create internal processes for an engineering customer airline before becoming a maintenance planner. My final role with British Airways was in their Operations Centre (Compass Centre) as a short haul operations planner. I left British Airways in 1997 to move to Cologne as my partner moved there for work.
I worked as an English teacher for Berlitz in Germany, moving back to the UK at the end of 1999. At this point in life, I was a mother to three children, all under three years old and life was very busy. I worked in various customer service roles at evenings and weekends while they were little. While my children were in school, I worked as a teaching assistant in a high school, gaining a BA(Hons) in Learning and Teaching.
After leaving the education sector, I joined Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) as a Prototype Build Engineer (electrical) on their Degree level Apprenticeship. I gained a Foundation Degree (FdEng) in Automotive Engineering from Coventry University. I left JLR hoping to reboot my aviation career but it wasn’t so easy; I was unable to re–join as an Engineer because, although I have the qualifications as a time-served apprentice my skills were out of date. I was unable to find a training course to allow me to get my recency back for my aviation engineering skills because I already have level three qualifications and was unable to get an engineering role without the experience. If I had initially trained as a teacher or a nurse then it would have been easier to find a ‘return to teaching’ or a ‘return to nursing’ course, as these professions traditionally expect people to take time out to have a family. I hope that, with the numbers of females entering engineering careers, this changes in the future.
I was lucky enough to find the customer role with Monarch Aircraft Engineering in Birmingham, joining them in July 2017. The role combined my ‘people skills’ and my engineering background.
I then joined 2Excel in March 2019 when Monarch went into administration. I really enjoy my role but miss hands-on engineering. I don’t have many regrets but would love to go back and stay ‘on the tools’ for long enough to have gained my licences.
My three boys are looking to follow me into aviation, one of whom is an apprentice working with me at 2Excel. I have one son looking to join the RAF and the other has a placement on the Rolls Royce Aerospace Engineering Degree Apprenticeship in Bristol. I’m very proud of them.
How did you hear about 2Exel?
I met Phil Whitehead, my line manager, at one of the careers fairs organised to help Monarch staff to find new positions, this was in 2019. After visiting the Lasham site and meeting its people, I was lucky enough to be offered the role of Customer Accounts Manager.
Describe an ‘average’ day or week
On a day-to-day basis, I will make sure that all the data on the aircraft check is up to date from a commercial point of view. We hold a daily production meeting and I issue the notes internally and externally, attaching the materials report and the updated project plan.
I produce a weekly report to the customer to show any additional charges incurred, then give any additional information to the customer that they need to able to authorise the charges, issuing the invoices for the additional charges.
More widely I deal with every commercial aspect of the checks, from agreeing the initial contract, agreeing costs for individual aircraft maintenance checks through to agreeing additional charges for work added to the check, which we will sometimes look to do for a fixed price, or will otherwise give an estimate of the time that it will take. I produce contact briefs so that everyone working on the check within 2Excel understands which items are included in the fixed price, if there are any materials included in the fixed price and if there is any defect rectification included.
Customer satisfaction and care are my top priority; and I like to ensure my customers are happy and comfortable at Lasham.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy the variety. I deal with most people and departments within the company and am the interface with the customer. I really enjoy building, and maintaining, good relationships with our customers. From-time-to-time, I may need to have frank conversations with them, so having a mutually respectable relationship is key.
I really enjoy working in an aviation environment and particularly like working at Lasham, there is a great team spirit here.
You’re featured within the company’s new corporate video. What does this mean to you?
I hope that it promotes the company and the excellent services that we offer. I also hope that it shows the variety of careers on offer within aviation and could maybe inspire people to consider an aviation role (or engineering more generally) as a career, it would be good to inspire younger females to consider STEM careers while they are in school and so can make the choice to study STEM subjects in post-16 education.