A passion for Air cargo – get to know new TIACA Chairman Steven Polmans

A passion for Air cargo – get to know new TIACA Chairman Steven Polmans

On the first of July, Steven Polmans, Director Cargo and Logistics, Business Development, Brussels Airport takes the helm as TIACA Chairman, supported by Sanjiv Gadhia, Chief Executive Officer of Astral Aviation Ltd, in the Vice Chairman role. The new team has pledged to put sustainability and diversity initiatives top of the TIACA agenda. 

TIACA Times spoke to Steven on the eve of his Chairmanship. 

TT : Air cargo – a passion or just a job?

SP: It started as a job. Too many people would not believe me if I said that today it is not a passion.  It takes a big part of my time and life, so without feeling a passion for it, I would feel sorry for myself. Doing this with passion makes it easier and more fun! 

 TT : What makes communities tick? 

 SP: Why do we look for far away friends if we have great neighbours? Yes, it is important to work together and improve on a lane basis. But often it is easier and better to work together with your neighbours, even if they are competitors. The benefits become apparent quickly, it is more personal and it can be more fun. But it also needs some moderation and facilitation. Once you get minds thinking in the same direction and can put aside old, and often stupid historical discussions and egos, it really is a differentiator in what you can do together. 

TT : Why should the class of 2019 consider a career in air cargo? 

SP: Should they? There are so many great opportunities in the world. Why do we feel we need to promote our business that hard? People should find their path and do what they like to do. And yes, cargo can be fun. But most of the times it goes back to the organisations and people you work for. So let’s stop promoting our great, fun and interesting industry. It is not up to the new generation to come to air cargo, it is up to us to create interesting, challenging and fun jobs for this new generation in the air cargo industry. That is the big challenge we are facing. Luckily there are also a lot of companies and people doing so. 

 TT: Air Cargo digitization – jaw jaw or the new normal? 

 SP: The new normal, no doubt. Yes, we are much slower in adoption. And yes, it takes time. And yes, there are a lot of reasons why it is more difficult in our industry. But the question really is not if it will come, but when it will come. If we are too slow, we will pay the price afterwards.  

Others will say: if we are too quick, we will pay a price now. Both are correct. If the world and everything we do and see is getting more digital, why would we be an exception? Why should we even have the ambition to be the exception? No: digitization is coming.  

TT : TIACA is entering a new season – fact or fiction? 

SP: Fact! Building on the old strengths of TIACA, two years ago we started a journey to focus more on content and work with partners for our traditional strong points such as networking, events and advocacy. It does not mean those aspects are less important, but that we have teamed up with partners for these specific jobs. Those partners are bigger and stronger or more specialised, and they see a benefit and value in working together with an organisation such as TIACA.  

SP: This once again shows the strong brand and reputation we have built over the past years, something that does not fade overnight. This allows us, as TIACA, to do what we are best at, which is our natural habitat as an organisation representing all the air cargo industry players. What can we do or what should we do to make this industry better, smarter, smoother and more beneficial for everybody and all shippers using our industry worldwide? It took us some time to redefine our mission, vision, and strategy and we are still on the road to our new destination. But the direction is clear and it is great to see new enthusiasm from so many, something which is also being reflected in some great additions to our Board. 

 TT: Tell us more about Cross Company Industry Collaboration (TIACA’s theme for the Executive Summit). 

There are limits to how much you can improve as a company working independently. When we cannot solve problems, we often look to an organisation or industry body to solve the problem for us. In day to day life we do the same. When we have a problem, we look to a third party to fix it! And when they do something we do not like, we complain about them.  

But as an industry and individual companies, we could do so much ourselves and we should take part of the overall responsibility. And yes, we can still compete with each other and yes, we will and should continue to do so. But that competition can take place in a better environment for all of us. 


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