Interview with Pierre Berthelot
Owen McClave, our Senior Vice President Engine Operations at SR Technics, spoke to us about his current role, his vision of SR Technics for years to come and extraordinary work experience that spans over 30 years in OEMs, independent MROs and leasing companies. Read more below!
Owen, you joined SR Technics two years ago, in January 2019. What did you do before that?
Not forgetting that I started off as a dairy farmer working on my parents’ farm in Ireland, my first job in Aerospace was in 1991 when I joined a major case (JT9D, PW4000, PW2000) repair facility joint venture between Pratt and Whitney and Singapore Airlines Engineering Company (SIAEC) as an accountant. I was promoted to Managing Director and remained for a full 13 years. I am proud to say that we generated the highest profitability of all the group entities worldwide.
Then I joined Lufthansa Technik to rebuild and run an Airfoil repair facility. It was a great opportunity to rethink and remodel - that is what we did creating one of the leanest facilities in the LHT Group.
My next seven-year Aerospace adventure was with Airbus Helicopters building a new engine (PW150) facility in Singapore, setting up a new Helicopter leasing company in Dublin, establishing an engine leasing entity in Prince Edward Island, Canada, and running a facility in the UK which carried out depth maintenance on the RAF Chinook fleet, Search and Rescue and Oil and Gas Super Pumas as well as MRO on Honeywell and Pratt turbines.
My nomadic working life has been spent in Ireland, Singapore, Paris, Rome, Arkansas, Prince Edward Island, Toronto, UK and finally Zurich.
You have worked with OEMs, independent MROs and leasing companies, mainly on engine and part repair business, for over three decades. From your point of view, what makes aerospace industry interesting to work in?
As an accountant you can be industry agnostic. Aerospace is a serious business and it attracts conscientious people. It is the people who kept me in the industry for 30 years. The diversity of challenges from SQDCP (SR Technics’ operating model Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost, People) that we face every day is exciting and makes time fly. I like discussions and problem solving with professionals who know far more than I but grant me the courtesy of enlightened debate.
The numbers are also big in Aerospace. We talk in millions and that makes life more interesting as we can make big gains or, if we are not careful, big mistakes. That keeps us on our toes at all time. Knowing the way that big OEMs operate and think, helps one greatly when working in an independent MRO where the life blood of the company are OEM licenses.
Being a Senior Vice President Engine Operations at SR Technics sounds like a challenging task. Can you tell us more about your role and your vision for SR Technics in the future?
My role is to facilitate the development of people. We have over 800 people in Operations. A small incremental improvement in their confidence, effectiveness and efficiency is 100 times more valuable than anything else that I can do in my role.
To answer the question from a different perspective, we in operations are responsible for delivering engines back to our customers with speed, lowest cost and in compliance with all regulations while keeping our employees safe. A new campaign called “A Journey of an Engine” will provide entirely fresh and exciting insights into all we do when it comes to engine inspection, repair and maintenance.
My vision for SR Technics is that our global brand will be so strong that we will be the first port of call for all engine MRO requirements globally. We will achieve this by easing the lives of our customers through the removal of variability in processes, world class communication, transparency and excellence in engineering.
What is the most exciting or challenging part of your job as Senior Vice President Engine Operations?
Working with a diverse and capable workforce is by far the most exciting and challenging part of the job. Each one of them in their respective fields know more than I do and together we know more still. Also, the science of improvement (e.g. lean, teaming) is challenging – how does one embed a continuous improvement mindset into operations?
You are well versed in lean thinking and methods. In your opinion, how can SR Technics benefit from them?
I started to practice lean in the very early stage of my career in Pratt and Whitney. It is a very contentious and complex subject and many companies struggle with lean for years without significant success. Lean in MRO is not easily understood from textbooks. However, with a pragmatic customer & people centric focus on continuous improvement, SR Technics will benefit greatly from lean the proper way, that is to say, leading to greater stability and efficiency of processes. It is a long journey.
When you leave your job at the end of a day, how do you relax and unwind? What do you like to do in your spare time?
There are three activities that I use to distract myself from work: