The Airships are Coming – Global Supply Chain Interview Series

Read the full transcript from Brian Cartwright’s interview with with Julian Benscher, President, Skyship Services (First published April 2018 in Global Supply Chain Magazine)

Brian Cartwright, Managing Director, Top Management Resources Group:

Airships are coming back in a big way and will certainly be a major disruptor to the traditional modes of Air, Sea, and Land transport. Airship technology really captured my interest around three years ago when I first read about the ongoing development of hybrid airships by companies such as Lockheed Martin and Hybrid Air Vehicles. Since then I have been actively supporting the growth of the sector in region and am now working closely with the regions first Airship operator Airships Arabia which is based in Dubai World Central.

It was through my involvement with Airships Arabia that I recently had the privilege of meeting Julian Benscher who is one of the world’s leading lighter-than-air businessmen, the son of a former European tycoon, he’s a man of many talents who I was also surprised to learn was one of the main investors and creators of boy band the Backstreet Boys.

Julian has been involved in Airships for over 30 years, he is the President of Skyship Services a US based company which owns and operates a fleet of Skyship 600’s, the world’s largest conventional Airship containing 666,000 cubic metre of helium and a 61-metre-long Airship.

As Julian is one of the key people in the world of Airships across the globe I took the opportunity to pick his brains about Airship technology in general and in particular its application for the Logistics sector.

What would be the main advantage for using Airships in Logistics over other modes of transporting cargo?

When we talk about Airships in Logistics a major advantage is the ability to be able to take off and land without the need for an airstrip which is a potential game changer for delivering cargo to remote locations.

Is the ability to lift heavy cargo in an Airship as simple as it appears to be?

Airships are deceptively complicated; their structure and physical attributes conceal some extraordinary complexities which must be considered.

Most of the volume of the airship envelope consists of helium which is inert and therefore safe and the second lightest lifting gas which is available, hydrogen being the first with its inherent problems. Consequently, one has to consider the changes in atmospheric pressure that cause the helium to expand and contract and as such the envelope has ballonet fitted in the front and rear of the envelope. These ballonets enable air to be drawn within them and released from them to counter the expansion and contraction of helium.

A second but related issue, when considering cargo is how one compensates for the weight of the load that would be added and removed from the Airship. These issues are simple to articulate but a solution for a commercially viable Airship has taken huge investment and scientific innovation and endeavor to become a realizable possibility. Both Lockheed Martin and Hybrid Air Vehicles have made huge strides in this space and expect to have certified cargo Airships operational within the next few years.

How do you see the Airships industry developing in the Middle East?

Airships are coming to the region far sooner than many people think. One of our very own Skyship 600’s will be operational in the UAE in the second half of 2018 and will be operated by Skyship Services in conjunction with Airships Arabia.

Initial use of Airships in the Middle East will be focused around surveillance, tourism and advertising, but more importantly the operation will provide valuable Airship experience to the Airships Arabia team and the regional certification authorities.

The hybrids are expected to be operating in the region by 2021 and will be suited to carrying high volumes of cargo. The initial Lockheed Martin model is forecast to have a payload of 20 tonnes and Airlander is working on a 12-ton unit with future versions expected to carry 75 tonnes.

What do you think are the main obstacles the Airships industry will need to overcome in this region?

The Skyship 600 is the largest twin engine certified non-rigid Airship in the world today, by bringing this Airship to the UAE with Airships Arabia now it is hoped that we will overcome any regulatory obstacles by familiarizing the regional authorities with what we do. The current absence of specific regulations pertaining to Airships is because there have never been manned Airships in the Middle East. The Skyship had to undergo the same rigorous certification process as any twin-engine aircraft, and the cargo airships will have to comply with the same rigorous certification process. Once certification is achieved the remaining hurdles are to ensure that the Airship’s and their operators follow local rules and regulations in much the same way as any certified aircraft and its operator that wishes to operate in the region.

How will Airships compare in terms of time and cost Vs cargo planes?

The time and cost resulting from the ability to operate to and from unprepared sites, including water, will be significant and is a game changer

They are also significantly more efficient in terms of cost to operate for example the Airlander 10 hybrid airship has a fuel burn rate of less than 500kg per flight hour, compared to say a 737 which burns 2,300kg of fuel per flight hour. Even the fuel per km comparison shows the Airlander 10 at less than ¼ of the fuel burn of a 737.

 For those who don’t already know can you explain the difference between Conventional Airships and Hybrid Airships?

Conventional Airships such as the Skyship 600 only derive lift from the Helium gas inside the envelope whereas hybrids derive lift from a combination of helium gas, forward motion generating lift from the hybrid airship’s lifting body hull shape and from vectored engine thrust.

Brian Cartwright, Managing Director of Top Management Resources Group (TMR Group), is well known throughout the international Supply Chain & Logistics sector as a focused and highly proactive business leader, mentor, and thought leader. He has partnered with Global Supply Chain magazine to run a series of exclusive interviews with senior executives to uncover the facts and provide real time insight on what’s happening in Supply Chain & Logistics sector across the region.

Read the full magazine

Survival of the fittest – Global Supply Chain Interview Series

Read the full transcript from Brian Cartwright’s interview with Christian Juul-Nyholm, Managing Director, Maersk Line, UAE, Iran, Qatar & Oman. (First published November 2017 in Global Supply Chain Magazine)

Read the full transcript from Brian Cartwright’s interview with Christian Juul-Nyholm, Managing Director, Maersk Line, UAE, Iran, Qatar & Oman. (First published November 2017 in Global Supply Chain Magazine)

Brian Cartwright, Managing Director, Top Management Resources Group:

This month I met with Christian Juul-Nyholm who is the Managing Director for Maersk Line, UAE, Iran, Qatar & Oman.

Christian has a long history of living and working in the Middle East logistics sector with his first stint from 1997 until 2006. He returned to the region again in 2014 after 9 years of working in various countries across Europe and Asia Pacific.

Representing the world’s largest container shipping company, Christian was pleased to share some thoughts around current market dynamics which are influencing the Supply Chain.

What are your thoughts on the changes in alliances between shipping lines and recent mergers and acquisitions?

Despite the new alliances our industry is still fragmented. Over the coming years we can expect even more consolidation. The alliances will offer a more equal playing field for the carriers and there will still be plenty of competitive offerings for shippers. Initially, there might be some disruption to services, as new networks are put in place.

Is the rise of the mega vessels a major contributor to overcapacity?

Mega ships make sense to reduce carbon footprint and reduce unit costs when demand meets expectations but when demand suddenly/ unexpectedly drops, the economics become challenged if you are unable to fill the ships. When you order vessels it’s important to keep a relative balance between your current fleet size and the expected market growth. While there was a bit of a frenzy the past years, today the order book is at a 27-year low.

Overcapacity in shipping is a common discussion, but what about under capacity in some trade lanes which has raised shipping costs and increased lead times?

As a business you always aim to match capacity to demand to ensure utilization stays high. The space crunch seen in Europe this spring came from the normal Chinese New Year deployment coupled with an unusually strong demand from Europe to Asia (growth in excess of 12 percent).

Due to the high number of ‘no-shows’, carriers need to overbook vessels every week. A better coordination on forecasting is vital to improve the supply chain.

How is Maersk Line contributing to creating more sustainable supply chains?

Our customers’ require sustainable products and we are seeing significantly higher interest in partnership to reduce environmental impact.

Firstly we can influence reducing average pollution per transported unit. If we can ensure that every slot is full every time a ship leaves a region, there would be significant reduction in carbon footprint.

Maersk Line continuously evaluates alternative fuels and reduced fuel consumption. Even if sea-freight is by far the eco-friendliest way to transport goods, we can do more.

Digitization is a topic that regularly comes up during my discussions with Supply Chain and Logistics professionals, what are your thoughts on digitization in shipping, and what actions are you taking in regard to this?

We are cognizant that the container industry needs to be in sync with the digitized age. Maersk Line’s focus is clear – making the entire process of getting a container from A to B seamless. We are working with companies like IBM, Microsoft and Alibaba to make this a reality in the very near future. This is also perfectly aligned with the UAE government’s focus of being completely digital in the coming five years.

What are your thoughts about doing business in Iran as its one of the countries under your remit which has some very unique challenges when compared to the rest.

The Iran market represents good opportunities in the coming years. European companies in particular have resumed doing business with Iran, and we expect this segment to experience a significant growth in the next five years. Regardless of who is the first mover, there are ample prospects to do good business in Iran.

I am interested to hear your thoughts on talent in the industry, are you finding it difficult to attract and retain people?

The company is good at retaining talent. We try to maintain a balanced mix of nationalities from all regions.  In terms of attraction, we receive many senior management enquiries from Asia, but lately we are receiving less enquiries from Europe.

Prospects in Europe have improved, causing people to stay put, and attractiveness of Dubai from a compensation/cost perspective has deteriorated in comparison.

We experience that attracting candidates with families to come and work here is proving increasingly difficult.

Have you been successful in attracting local nationals in the countries you lead? 

In the UAE we try to attract more Emirati employees, but as an industry we struggle to compete with both public and private sectors e.g. banks which are viewed more favourably. Dubai was built on trade/logistics, yet we still have a challenge to make the industry appear attractive. In Oman we have a majority of Omanis working.

Are there any specific initiatives you currently run, aimed at attracting local nationals which are proving successful?

We run a global initiative called ‘Go with Maersk’ – every year we hire aspiring young employees into our trainee program and we hope to attract GCC nationals too.

Is Maersk Line involved in supporting local communities through any kind of CSR initiatives?

Every winter we run a CSR funfair in Dubai. We invite around 1,000 customers and their families.  Our employees work the stands and proceeds are donated to projects through government approved charities. It’s a great day for the organisation to engage with customers and a great motivator for the team giving something back to the community.

Brian Cartwright, Managing Director of the Top Management Resources Group (TMR Group), is well known throughout the international Supply Chain & Logistics sector as a focused and highly proactive business leader, mentor, and thought leader. He has partnered with Global Supply Chain magazine to run a series of exclusive interviews with senior executives to uncover the facts and provide real time insight on what’s happening in Supply Chain & Logistics sector across the region.

Read the full magazine

 

No in-country experience, no job.

Three points nearly all the 3pl  companies are totally rigid on when hiring SC solutions / Contract Logistics BD people.

  1. Solid track record of performance selling SC / CL solutions in a 3pl
  2. Deep knowledge of specific end user industry verticals
  3. Current or previous in-country / local market experience

Sales people.jpg

In my view the first two are a no brainer but after close to ten years in the Middle East supporting 3pls I struggle to understand why companies won’t give talented people with an excellent track record in other countries a chance in a new country or region, and especially in countries where there are many expats (as expats we all got a chance to start in a new country without previous market experience).

I will use the UAE as an example because I am based here. A young talented SC solutions / Contract Logistics BDM is looking to make a move to the UAE from (for example) Europe or South Africa. He’s/she’s prepared to take a hit on the salary for a chance to learn the market, he/she understands they must, and is also totally willing to literally hit the pavement and knock on doors to build contacts, client base, pipeline and market knowledge from day one. He/she has an excellent track record of past performance, knows their stuff when it comes to understanding firstly their own companies logistical capability then is able to  identify clients they could realistically support, can analyse a clients logistics set up, and design and implement solutions. Basically they can win new business, yet because he/she hasn’t worked in UAE before no one is even prepared to meet them.

What seems to happen here in UAE far too often is that many 3pl companies, who are pretty much all looking to hire good SC CL solutions sales people, just want to know which clients the person can bring in order to quickly fill the latest new build warehouse, and usually expect results in 3 months… if this was related to transactional freight sales I kind of understand the 3 month expectation, but what’s the relevance of this in contract logistics where the sales process could be anything from 2-3 years or more in order to win a major contract.

In the logistics sector in the Middle East we clearly have a major shortage of good SC CL solutions selling people in most countries especially within the 30-40’s age range which means an even bigger problem is looming. Is it time to take a risk by hiring someone who has the industry experience but without the market knowledge if its clear they adequately tick the other two boxes?

What do you think is more important? (Feel free to add others in the comments).

  1. Solid track record of performance selling SC / CL solutions
  2. Deep knowledge of specific end user industry verticals
  3. Current or previous in-country / local market experience

A good leader see’s things in people that others don’t, a good leader is prepared to take educated risks when making hiring decisions and is prepared to stand by those decisions.



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Kanoo Raising Industry Standards – Global Supply Chain Interview Series

Full Transcript; Interview with Krishna Kumar, General Manager, Logistics – YBA Kanoo   (First published in June 2017 as part of an ongoing Interview Series with Global Supply Chain Magazine)

Full Transcript; Interview with Krishna Kumar, General Manager, Logistics – YBA Kanoo   (First published in June 2017 as part of an ongoing Interview Series with Global Supply Chain Magazine)

 Brian Cartwright, Managing Director, Top Management Resources Group:

I recently met with Krishna Kumar, GM Logistics for the Kanoo Group to get his thoughts on the current state of the regional logistics sector.

Krish took over the running of the Group’s logistics business 1 year ago having moved across from his previous role as Managing Director of Kanoo Terminal Services (a Joint Venture between Kanoo & Maersk), where he had spent the past 25 years. Prior to his time at Kanoo he has worked for Johnson & Johnson and Colgate Palmolive for several years and brings a wealth of insight and experience gained from major MNC’s and long established family owned businesses.

Kanoo Logistics offers Global Freight Forwarding and end to end Multimodal Supply chain Solutions to a variety of Industry Segments.

In the current economic climate business continues to be tough going for many organisations and the logistics space in particular has been impacted greatly so this interview presented an excellent opportunity to hear Krishna’s thoughts on the good, the bad, and the future of logistics in the region.

 What do you think the future of logistics looks like in the Middle East?

The future is extremely bright, but we do need to focus on encouraging more collaboration and communication between key stakeholders in government and the private sector.

The future success of the industry should be a joint story, one where the government and the private industry plays a decisive role together. It is time for both to sit around the same table and talk to each other and chart the goal and the path in phases and steps.

There are many great ideas and initiatives being shared by government and private sector organisations throughout the region, but it can be challenging to get enough traction and alignment between key stakeholders from all sides to be effective enough to make a difference, so what can everybody in the sector do to help drive this forward?

Implementing ideas will take more than just will, it will take grit and sheer determination. The tools are there, technology is available, people can be retrained –but the resources need to be given shape by the joint forces of both the government and the industry.

You have a lot of experience in Saudi Arabia, the biggest market in the region for Logistics, so how important do you see Saudi’s role in this.

As the largest market in the region, both in terms of imports and exports, Saudi Arabia will make a huge difference and impact in the way logistics is done in the region, it’s imperative that the logistics community and government in Saudi Arabia is a major supporter and influencer of change and development.

 What are your thoughts on how E-commerce is affecting the logistics sector?  

The impact of e-commerce is already seen here with players upping their game, and also major shipping lines reengineering their model to dip into the end to end solutions, via digital platforms. Technology is now a differentiator of logistics services – be it, transport, warehousing, tracking, etc. which creates the visibility for the customer. Overall, the rise of E-commerce should have a very positive impact by accelerating the need for improved cross border collaboration between countries.

What do think about the level of skills and the availability of people with logistics experience in the region?

We are facing talent shortages for some functions, but it’s going in the right direction as training and qualification in the field of logistics has become a primary guideline for selection of employees, and improving the skill sets of the already employed.

Trainability and hence employability of local population is also now being taken very seriously, with the government of each country making it a law. This has led to logistics providers making a concerted effort to engage and upskill local nationals as well as their expats employees.

What is Kanoo Logistics doing in regard to upskilling employees and raising logistics industry standards?

We are raising the internal bar first – our Group has now a dynamic team of professionals led by a Group CEO, Dr Patrick Chenel, who have laid out the cards on the table and charted out the path into the future by taking steps:  bold yet careful; fast yet consistent; local yet global; individually yet as One Kanoo.

We are raising the standard of our Group offerings with technology, compliance, people competence, Operational excellence – all aimed at one single goal: a strong customer focus & delivery.

Brian Cartwright, Managing Director of the Top Management Resources Group (TMR Group), is well known throughout the international Supply Chain & Logistics sector as a focused and highly proactive business leader, mentor, and thought leader. He has partnered with Global Supply Chain magazine to run a series of exclusive interviews with senior executives to uncover the facts and provide real time insight on what’s happening in the Supply Chain & Logistics sector across the region.

Read the full magazine

kanoo interview

I’m giving you a blank cheque!

There’s a story behind this one, so bear with me…

A couple of years ago a business partner and I we’re running a workshop in Doha for IATA’s world cargo symposium which was attended by an audience of  “future air cargo executives” the next generation of leaders.

Some of the worlds most important people in air cargo were sitting in the room that day as these are the people who are going to be running the sector in the years to come.

In order to deliver the workshop so it would be best received by this particular generation (See Education… Aligned.) we decided to run a forum using snap polls (a simple show of hands), encouraging some lively discussion along the way.

After debating a range of topics we eventually came to the subject of continuing education and personal development.

We asked for people to raise their hands if they had worked towards a formal degree qualification over the past 12 months.

About half the room shot their hands up.

We then asked who had taken part in any soft skills training in the last 12 months…  just two or three hands popped up.

Ok… so its evident (for whatever reason) that soft skills weren’t at the top of the training agenda.

We were now warming up to the killer question.

“If we gave you a blank cheque that you can use to pay for either a degree course or soft skills training… which would you choose?”.

$$$ Degree or Soft Skills? $$$
$$$ Degree or Soft Skills? $$$

Silence… for a few minutes, then discussion backwards and forwards, the room is divided… and with a final show of hands its a 50/50 split (I guess if you were personally very aware of a soft skill area where you would like to improve then you would be one of the soft skills choosers).

Their was clearly a demand for soft skills training in the room which hadn’t been identified by their employers (remember only 2-3 people had raised their hands earlier).

So is it more important to pay for the degree or better to fine tune your soft skills?

Well if you want to be leading people and growing a business and if you are going to be one of the future senior executives in an industry then you are definitely going to benefit from having highly mastered soft skills.

Ah but hang on though, will you ever get those opportunities without the degree? Could you handle a senior executive post without the hard skills gained whilst getting a degree?

Would qualification by experience also be enough instead of a degree?

There is no real right or wrong answer here as too many different factors are involved, but I would add that in a challenging jobs market you need to have as many strings to your bow as possible to give you the edge on your competition.

If you have the means and ability to get a degree then you should do it…. but also keep on honing those soft skills!

Procuring people. What’s the cost of getting it wrong?

Whether it’s for a start-up and this is employee number one or if there is a requirement for employing vast numbers of people an organization will always have direct costs relating to hiring and will decide whether to pay for advertising, marketing, career portal, external recruitment services or headhunting fees, assessment tests, visa’s etc etc.

The choice is there for an organization to spend as much or as little on these direct costs as they wish… but how little is too little?

It’s practically impossible to get it exactly right when hiring a person (or people) but investing time and money in developing sufficient process and procedures will increase the chance of hiring the best people in terms of cultural fit as well as ability and experience.

Finding a good balance between the cost of hiring the right people versus the cost of getting it wrong isn’t easy but when you take the time to really consider the hidden costs of making a hiring mistake then investing more time and money up front becomes a very worthwhile and necessary investment.

Hidden cost factors of a bad hiring decision;

  • Time spent hiring a replacement
  • Reduced morale of other team members
  • Disruption to clients
  • Investment in on the job training (internal and external)
  • Time taken from exit of previous hire to the replacement person reaching minimum standards to perform the job
  • Loss of confidential information
  • Damage to company brand
  • Additional work load for other employees

The list goes on and many are interlinked, but the actual cost of an employee leaving is not easily quantified as there are just so many additional factors to be considered, for example a key employee with a very specific skillset will have a greater impact when leaving an organization than that of someone in a role which is easily replicated. Smaller businesses will also be more affected by one person leaving than larger businesses.

I guess the best advice is don’t cut corners and always think about what could be the cost of getting it wrong.

Consider the hidden costs...
Beware of the hidden costs.

How does your organization calculate the cost of replacing an experienced employee?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Planning your personal route to market.

So you’ve decided its time for a move…

Before you even write your CV and commence your Job Search you should really have a plan in place.

A few very basic things to consider.

  • What’s the ideal job that you have enough experience for and the right qualifications to take on right now?
  • Which companies would you like to work for?
  • Where are they based?
  • Do they have a career portal?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • Which are the best online jobs boards to use in order to find the type of job you are looking for?
  • Who are the main recruiters which specialize in your area of experience in the region where you are looking to work?
  • Can you leverage the networks of any of your existing contacts, ex-colleagues, friends, social media or industry groups to help open doors and make connections with key decision makers at the companies you wish to work for?
  • Are your salary expectations realistic?

Be realistic.

  • Apply to jobs which you are definitely qualified & have relevant experience for
  • Be aware that the jobs market is constantly changing, especially in recent years. It could be that the package you earn today is already above the current market average
  • No one wants to go backwards but bear in mind the days of a 20-30% pay increase to move jobs are long gone

Stay Focused.

  • Think of your job search as a sales pipeline… you are the product!
  • Make a plan, set yourself targets and aim for quality of applications, not quantity
  • Track your activity (A good old Excel sheet will do just fine)
  • Once you have a plan in place and an idea of what you are aiming for you can tailor your resume to suit (Next Phase)

You can spend your time applying for thousands of jobs which aren’t quite right or spend the same amount of time applying for a smaller number of jobs where you absolutely have the right experience and therefore more chance of a positive response.

Its not a perfect science but get as close to the latter as possible and your potential for success has already increased!

Plan your personal RTM


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Process makes perfect.

The recruitment process is often an area of frustration for hiring managers, external recruiters and prospective employees alike, its particularly frustrating for potential employees searching for new jobs.

People who were initially very excited about a new job opportunity can quickly become disillusioned if the steps to getting the job are too complicated, too slow or not clearly defined with definite time frames and regular communication through each stage in the process.

process

First impressions count!

For employers it’s important to consider the candidates experience from the first time they make contact.

Will they have a good impression of the company throughout the process?

If an applicant has a bad experience when applying to work for an organization its potentially damaging to the brand itself (more about that in my previous post… “The People’s Value Chain”).

Word travels fast!

Even if an applicant is unsuccessful in their application it doesn’t have to be a negative experience, the key is that they are given proper feedback with regular communication throughout the process.

If organizations want to attract and retain top talent then its essential to get people engaged and keep them engaged from day one.

I am sure every employer can recall a time when they have failed to hire an outstanding candidate who they really wanted on board so the big question should be why ?  and what can be done to stop this happening again…


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