Q&A with Tracy Chaplin: XOJET Vice President of Procurement
In honor of the 2012 Women in Aviation Conference, the XOJET Blog is running a series of profiles of some of the great women who work at XOJET. Today, we’re excited to bring you an interview with Tracy Chaplin, XOJET’s Vice President of Procurement.
XOJET Blog: Tracy, tell us a little bit about you and your role at XOJET.
Tracy: I’m the Vice President of Procurement at XOJET, and I’ve been with the company for almost four years. I manage the team that deals with all of our suppliers, from the technical buying to the cabin amenities.
XOJET Blog: That sounds like a lot to juggle, what is a typical day like for you?
Tracy: I start with our morning management reports, which cover what we’re supplying; where it needs to go; when it needs to be delivered by; and the best method of procuring it. For example, I’ll look at our fuel, how we’re buying it and how we can control our fuel costs with prices constantly rising. We’re always working with our maintenance team and expediting to return aircraft to service quickly. I’ll also work with Quality Control to ensure that our suppliers meet our safety and risk management requirements.
It’s different every day. For example, leading up to the Women in Aviation Conference, we managed getting the booth ready and shipping everything to the conference. We also dealt with the hotels, since our group manages all the hotel contracts for our pilots and all travel. At the same time we’re sourcing wheels and brakes on the aircraft, toner cartridges for the printers and copiers, special event swag for events and even blankets for the fleet.
I manage a team of six incredible people who handle all of the purchasing for the company. They get all the amenities and parts ordered and shipped to the aircraft overnight, sometimes by courier in the case of an emergency. We have to be very good at logistics because we provide a luxury service to very high-end customers. So there’s an expectation that we have to meet every time.
We can take care of everything for our clients, from the snacks they prefer to their favorite wine or bottled water, it lets our customers know that we’re paying attention to their desires and needs. We are always sourcing for new amenities to keep our ideas fresh.
XOJET Blog: What do you consider your biggest challenge?
Tracy: Tracy: My biggest challenge is to make sure that we don’t get overloaded. I have the most fantastic team of multi-taskers and problem-solvers, and we have a well-deserved reputation as the group who can get it done. We want to always give the same level of support to the whole company, but I need to balance that without overwhelming the team. Fortunately, it’s hard to overwhelm us.
XOJET Blog: How did you get into aviation?
Tracy: Aviation found me. It was a job I had in college, but I was working for a cargo carrier at first. Then the company changed and added an airline arm. I stayed with it after college because of the sense of fulfillment I got from working through the diversity of challenges that arose. I just kept with it and before I knew it, I was a director. I learned a lot of different aspects of the airline business there, which gives me a pretty diverse background. I guess you could say that I grew up on the technical services side of the business. In 2001, I made the switch from the commercial airline business to private aviation, and in 2008 I joined XOJET. After 20 years in the industry, I still love it.
XOJET Blog: What do you like most about your job?
Tracy: I love the diversity of what I do. I’m very detail-oriented and love to problem solve, so this is a great job for me. There are so many intricate steps behind each flight that need to fall perfectly into place so the customer doesn’t notice any of them.
There’s a certain energy and vibe here at XOJET. Even though we’re regulated by the FAA, this is such a creative group. It’s always, “How are we going to do this?” not “Can we?” That’s how we find innovative solutions that lead the industry, like we did by offering free in-flight Wi-Fi on every jet in our fleet.
I also like that nobody can work in a silo here. Everybody has to work together. We work with the FBOs (Fixed Base Operators) to make sure we can provide excellent service off the aircraft for our clients. This requires constant communication with the maintenance team, the sales team, the client services team, and all of the pilots because we own the supplier relationships behind the scenes.
XOJET Blog: What do you outside of work for fun?
Tracy: I have two teenagers who are very involved in lacrosse and volleyball, so we spend a lot of weekends traveling with them. It’s fun to cheer them on, and we meet some great people at the games. In the winter, when we have snow, we love to ski in Tahoe. In the summer we like to boat on Lake Folsom.