We asked: The top 5 reasons to join air cargo industry

It’s been another turbulent year in the airfreight industry. We’ve seen a boom in air cargo capacity and nearly limitless demand for e-commerce, but there have been some daunting headwinds regarding tariffs and a potential slowdown in world trade.

Amid such uncertainty, Air Cargo World was curious to know not only what makes people interested in the air cargo industry, but what compels them to remain in the business. We asked some of airfreight’s leaders about their favorite aspects of working in this one-of-a-kind field and compiled the top five reasons why this line of work is so fascinating.

International connections

For those with a taste for all things international, the global nature of air cargo is baked into the very fiber of the industry.

“While many industries have global offices, in logistics, almost every transaction involves two countries,” said Michél Patterson, vice president of performance management at Hellmann Worldwide Logistics.

“Logistics gives opportunities to all types and sizes of business to grow their customer base to other countries,” she said. “Likewise, for those customers, they have opportunities to purchase those goods. It may seem like simply getting things transported from A to B. To me, it is an amazing gift.”

Finger on the pulse of the world economy

In turn, the global nature of air cargo supply chain offers a front row seat to witness macroeconomic trends and trade lanes as they evolve – stemming from microeconomies’ changing export markets to international trade wars.

“I fell in love with the economic benefits side of cargo. I love a good puzzle,” said Ken Galka, air cargo operations manager at the Port of Seattle. “I also like the controlled chaos of the supply chain, and I enjoy my place within it. I like working on the air cargo side of things because of the economic story it provides, as well as the challenge.”

Fast pace
Logistics players dealing in airfreight will attest to the high speed of the industry, which is rooted in the time-sensitivity of products pharmaceuticals, perishable fresh produce, and even e-commerce (à la Alibaba’s goal to promise 72-hour delivery to anywhere in the world.)

“We’re at the bleeding edge of trends, and we have exposure to world trade, as well as how it happens, which is exciting,” said Brian Bourke, vice president of marketing at SEKO Logistics. “[The] pace of the work is speeding up; therefore, it continues to be a challenge, which makes it fun.”

Evolving regulatory landscape

As the bar for fast delivery times continues to rise, federal policies affecting the linked parties of the supply chain continue to morph and evolve.

Brandon Fried, executive director of the U.S. Airforwarders Assocation, said the challenge of helping members “navigate the labyrinth of regulatory and legislative challenges coming from Washington, while working to improve our industry on a daily basis” is one of the most exciting aspects of working in the industry.

“My phone constantly rings as I travel throughout the country updating freight forwarders on Washington events and helping them make their businesses more successful,” he said. “I enjoy the privilege of meeting fascinating people in an industry that is full of excitement and creative challenges that continues to be as fascinating as when I began over forty years ago.”

Personal relationships

The prevailing answer we received in Air Cargo World’s quest to pin down the industry’s appeal comes down to one word: “people.”

“It is a business of people. You will meet many people from different countries in the world, and it is fun,” said Alex Wei, vice president of cargo at China Airlines. “Boring is not found in our dictionary.”

The niche nature of air cargo translates into an intimacy within the global network that is not found in other international industries. As a result, a connection made at an industry event in Shanghai can just as likely be seen at a conference in Johannesburg.

“How many other industries provide almost a daily opportunity to meet people around the world, learn a little about their culture, and perhaps even get to visit their offices in other countries?” asked Hellmann’s Patterson. “I have friends all over the world.”

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