Many people do not consider air cargo as a career because they do not even know it exists – they never think about how the flowers are available all year round, or how the stage sets at the concerts they attend are moved around the world in such a short time.
Of course, the growth of online shopping and the rapid rise of companies like amazon has helped raise the profile of worldwide logistics and delivery, so maybe the timing is right to build on that? Especially as all the new technologies create an environment where real step-change can take place.
One company has taken that idea to a whole new level. ECS Group launched its NextGen Leaders project in January and had 637 participants in 300 teams registering, with more than 200 projects actually entered by the deadline at the end of February.
It asked students and start-up companies to submit innovative project ideas on one of four subjects:
- digital technologies or
- added value services.
It said the teams should come up with solutions or tools to boost performance, moving towards time-saving, efficiency gains and might, for instance, include voice technology, augmented reality, and/or collaborative work.
“But the whole idea is for people to come up with ‘out of the box’ ideas that will transform our industry’s best practices,” said Audrey Serdjebi, Head of Communications & Marketing, ECS Group.
“We see this project as the first step in a longer-term ‘Weapons of Mass Inclusion’ strategy.”
ECS personnel in each country, who could also submit ideas themselves, promoted the idea in local schools and universities and through social media, and continue to be heavily involved in the process.
“We were completely overwhelmed by the response we had. We felt it was a really good idea but we did not expect such a great reaction. We have had 225 bids from 57 countries all around the world,” said Serdjebi.
“And the interesting thing is that the bids are almost evenly spread among the four categories.”
The projects will go through a selection process, with those making the first cut being offered a few hours of on-line mentoring by ECS people and senior figures in the air cargo industry.
They will each spend 48 hours with the ECS mentors (and invited customers and suppliers) in their local country to work on the project before making their five-minute pitch to air cargo industry leaders at ECS headquarters in France via video conference. The best ten will then be sent on to a grand jury who will select a final three.
“Everyone we spoke to was really enthusiastic to help,” said Serdjebi.
“We want to find new talent and great ideas for the whole industry, not just for ECS. This project is bringing in a whole lot of fresh ideas from outside the industry.”
Sebastiaan Scholte, Chairmain of TIACA has been a supporter from the start and is a member of the grand jury.
“It is important to attract young talent and especially to promote innovation, which is needed in this industry,” said Scholte.
“Innovation and young talent are top priorities for TIACA, and therefore we gladly endorse and participate in the scheme.”
The three best projects will be announced at the air Cargo Europe awards at the Transport Logistic exhibition and conference in Munich in June.
“and the important thing is that these ideas will then be advanced,” said Serdjebi. “all the solutions presented will be able to find business angels to pursue their projects, find financing or join prestigious companies.”
She believes the best outcome would be for TIACA to take over the project as a second step to gather more new ideas so that it continues to help drive innovation in the industry.
“The NextGen project also means that we have all these people all around the world suddenly thinking of air cargo as an exciting place to work. Most students probably never even considered it before, so it has already been a success.
“For me it is a very challenging industry and I love it, so I am delighted to see this idea turn into such a good way of promoting the industry – and hopefully NextGen Leaders will bring in brilliant ideas which help transform the industry.”