Ajaya Bejar Vera

“The airline catering industry’s so dynamic and LSG Sky Chefs in particular, so my job’s never routine.”

After graduating in industrial engineering in Mexico and working for a multinational electronic appliances company, Ajaya Bejar Vera completed hisAjaya-Bejar-Vera MBA in Austria and the US. He joined LSG Sky Chefs in February 2012 working with the global LPS team and started his current position as Regional director LPS, Europe (LSG Sky Chefs Production System) in January 2013.

What does your job involve exactly?

My department belongs to the LSG Sky Chefs’ Operational Excellence structure. Our task is to develop and implement projects and initiatives to improve the efficiency of our processes; it is also our task to further develop our people in the LPS aspects and often to cooperate with other improvement initiatives across Europe. We aim to reduce all kinds of wastage in our operations – from food waste to excess inventory and any other unnecessary activities. For example, we can reduce processing times by reducing production batch sizes or simplifying and merging activities, which makes us more flexible and responsive to customers’ demands.

What do you like about your job?

I’m responsible for implementing LPS projects in our facilities through Europe, which requires a lot of travelling that I really enjoy. For example, in a typical week, I might fly to Rome for a couple of days, then on to Brussels for a day and finish the week in Helsinki. I really like the human side of travelling too, mixing with different cultures and working with people from all levels within our organization – supervisors, managers, general managers and even board members.

I have a lot of different duties and as the airline catering industry’s so dynamic and LSG Sky Chefs in particular, my job’s never routine. While I work most of the time within production, I also get to work in very different areas, such as IT, Product engineering, etc. For example, being part of the developing team of our “Operative Quality Management System” (OQMS) which is a system that aims to connect all the operative areas within our customer service center (CSC), required the design and development of so many different elements, from IT tools to checklists for production, etc. Setting this system up across some other CSCs in Europe was a really interesting project that I enjoyed a lot.

What’s been your biggest challenge so far at LSG Sky Chefs?

While I love the contact with so many different cultures, it can be challenging too – you always have to find new ways of doing things for a different site. Another challenge is reacting to events outside your control. We need to be flexible in our daily business, coming up with new ideas and reacting fast, with little or no time to plan. It’s not just relatively minor issues like flight delays, last-minute changes in orders or aircraft, but major issues such as customers suddenly radically changing their service concepts or industrial action. Somewhere in the region, something serious is always going on that has a big impact on our business.

What makes working for LSG different?

The airline industry overall is quite unique, airline catering even more so and LSG Sky Chefs especially! We have so many different customers – from the 5-star airline with high-class catering to charter operators with buy-on-board services, so we have to satisfy every customer’s very different needs. It’s just amazing really what goes on behind the scenes to make an apparently simple product – an airline meal. You can’t afford to let standards drop with constant, immediate passenger feedback – a pressure most other industries don’t have. We also have so many different units within each facility that some days it seems like I’m working for three different companies at the same time – optimizing cooking processes, then working on logistics and even sometimes handing out meal shipments for our drivers to deliver! It might all sound a bit crazy, but that’s what makes my job fun.