Can you introduce yourself and explain what you do?
My full French name is Jean-Michel Clairis-Gauthier, but since I live in the US, I often go by a shorter version: Michael Gauthier is easier for Americans to understand. I am currently Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Customer Support at a company that designs and manufactures avionics equipment. That means electronic equipment for aircraft. These computers provide the pilots with safety features to make sure your flight departs and lands on time and is safe though the way. In my current company we provide computers and sensors that detect potential collision with the ground (mountains) or with other aircraft. Our equipment fly all over the world and save lives very often without the passenger even noticing it (the pilots get warnings and are able to avoid accidents before they happen!)
Before working at ACSS, where did you work?
I was working in France in a company that was making the same type of equipment.
When did you make the change from engineering plane software in the avionics market to selling it?
I always wanted to work in aviation. First I wanted to be pilot like many other kids, but I was also really interested in engineering. How do things work? How can a 400 ton piece of metal fly in the air, etc? I finally chose to study aerospace engineering; however, quickly after entering my engineering college, I realized that I was more attracted by the business aspect of aerospace. Therefore, after my aerospace engineering degree, I continued my studies in business with a Masters degree in business. Then I started working in an avionics company, doing customer support and sales. I was able that way to use both my technical and business background. I always wanted to deal with customers and be involved in the human side of the business (business proposals, negotiations) rather than the technical part of developing pieces of software or components.
What are some crucial skills someone needs to acquire in order to be in
You need to be able to listen, process your customer’s inputs and convey a positive message in return. The biggest mistake in business is not being able to listen to others.
How competitive is the avionics market right now?
Although there are very few players (only 2 to 3 companies in the world are able to make the same equipment that we build here in Phoenix), it is very competitive. The avionics market is also very limited: there are only 2 manufacturers of big airplanes (Boeing and Airbus) and together, they only build around 1,000 new aircraft per year. If you compare this to the car industry with millions of cars produced every year or the computer industry with hundreds of millions of computers and smart-phones manufactured, you can see that the avionics market is a very different business environment.
If you weren’t working where you are now, what would you be doing?
I think I would be a writer.
Do you think a business degree is necessary to become a successful
No, but that helps! What is critical is a being able to connect with others and being able to convince them. You can have the best idea in the world, but if you’re unable to explain it in a clear and convincing way, you’ll go nowhere. A degree will help of course because you will need to learn technical matters: how to make a business plan, how to conduct a market analysis, etc.
Who is your biggest customer at the moment?
Most of the airlines flying in the world are equipped by some form of our technology. Our biggest customers are also the major manufacturers of airplanes in the market of avionics: Boeing and Gulfstream in the US, Airbus, Dassault and ATR in France, Bombardier in Canada, and Embraer in Brazil. The aerospace business is truly global: all airplanes are equipped with the same type of equipment and are operated under similar rules and conditions all over the world. That is what makes flying the safest mode of transportation.
What is your favorite part about your job?
What is your least favorite part about your job?
Doing corporate reports!
Any advice for people going into marketing, the avionics market, or aviation?
Be passionate! Do something you love or else you will waste your time. You spend so much time working, so you’d better love it!
If you have more questions about the avionics market or his profession that weren’t answered here, you can contact Michael Gauthier through email at email@example.com!