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Growing up

Tags: Women   World Cargo Symposium   Faces   Cargo industry

Oliver Evans on Monday, March 25, 2013 2:15 PM

Do you remember the days when we were boys in a, well, boyish industry? How hard-nosed we were, how tough-talking, how shoulder- clapping and steady- drinking? How we used to talk aeroplanes, old and new, like some of us and others talk shiny cars?
Those were the days…
Then our topics changed, from good ol’ hardware to software, from mechanics to electronics, from full freighters to e-freight, and the new topics were suddenly interesting for men and women alike, and our industry began to attract the other gender. In rather small numbers, true, but it was a start.
And the times kept a-changing ever after, in favour of a higher share of female colleagues in our industry – albeit with the slow pace of history which makes trends so hard to detect unless you pause and look back.
That is what I did as I glanced at last week’s Doha WCS conference.
(Wo)Man, we´ve come a long way indeed! A long way from that all-male, testosterone- fuelled boys’ club we had been for the longest time.
Forget (well, not really, but in terms of “top ten small-talk issues”) payload and wingspan and Triple Seven versus A-350 and “what´s the best burger joint in – wherever”. Today it’s all about people, leadership, training. We are now almost as fluent talking soft skills, teamwork, motivation and talent scouting as we once were discussing full freighters versus bellies. But most important of all: we are much, much better today at inviting the - at least - equally smart, and (as many say) better half of mankind, to our industry and events.
Make no mistake, much too often it is still no piece of cake being a woman in our industry –but our (male) focus has shifted significantly. The opening and closing plenary at the WCS, the FACES initiative and not least the ever increasing level of civility and politeness among our air cargo crowd are clear indicators of that fundamental sea change.
A change that comes down to this:
Just as we as individuals have learned to respect, trust and even look up to women in our private lives, we finally do so as an industry.
And we are much better for it.
Now that is what I call growing up.
Thank you for tuning in.

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Leaving a mark

Tags: Faces   Team   Women

Oliver Evans on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 4:00 PM

Leave a mark.

What is the role of the individual participant in our huge, global industry? Are we so small that our personal influence is bound to be insignificant? Far from it: I put it to you that our collective influence is everything, and that every individual contribution is essential.

Take Jacques Ancher, who for a decade successfully led the cargo division of KLM. Jacques was actually what you might call one of the “big boys” of his time,  and yet in his humble frame of mind he never considered himself as "important". While this self assessment might fill an evening with lively discussions, his true and lasting mark on the air cargo industry was something rather slow in coming, long lasting and invisible:

He gathered around him a close group of cargo enthusiasts, mentored them, guided them, inspired them and thus almost accidentally bred a whole new generation of cargo executives that were later scattered to all corners of the industry, shaping it the way he had shaped them. I was lucky to be part of that group of "youngsters" and still remember those exciting years.

There are other ways of leaving your mark in air cargo. Murray Kidd for example, who left his very distinctive mark by – well, leaving the industry. He set up his private aid organisation "Bearcare" in Africa, determined to better the lives of as many Ugandian children as his meager funds would allow. When he rejoined our industry, he made a lasting impression on all of us who witnessed him on the stage of the World Cargo Symposium this spring in Kuala Lumpur – and provoked an unprecedented wave of donations from within our industry.

Yet I am not writing this blog to rehash old stories or to drop well-known names. As I said, every individual contribution is essential, and I want to celebrate a story, and a name, that might otherwise have passed unnoticed.

Last year, one of our trainees, Laura Neumann, brought not only enthusiasm and energy to her short tenure at our company, she also brought a camera and a great passion for "the pic", as they call it today. We capitalised on this enthusiasm and had her spend some hours in the backyards of our industry, in the halls and warehouses, on the tarmac and in a dozen of other places no photographer usually feels attracted to – and made lots of fine, stylish, utterly fascinating photographs, which now adorn a series of our posters.
And just days ago I got my hands on the latest issue of the "Airline Cargo Management" magazine and I thought: "Now isn´t that something!"

One of Laura’s  photographs actually made it on the front cover, with more of her work presented inside. These photos offer a totally fresh way of looking at air cargo – as art. So whether you are leading a major player in our industry for a decade, like Jacques Ancher, or leaving the industry temporarily on a private quest like Murray, or using a traineeship as a stepping stone in your early career like Laura, the industry is yours to shape like the raw materials of the artist.

Don’t you ever underestimate your mark.
Thank you for tuning in.


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