TIACA already initiated a number of moves over the past couple of years, to establish greater financial sustainability, and to rid itself of an image that had gathered a little dust along the way
since its foundation in the early 1990s. Changes that were rewarded with positive feedback at its Executive Summit in Budapest, Hungary, in NOV19 (CFG reported), “encouraging us to redouble our efforts,” Steven Polmans, TIACA
Chairman, stated in a recent press release announcing TIACA’s plans to speed-up its transformation program to become “more agile and responsive to the market's needs,” and appointing
Celine Hourcade as Transition Director.
CFG asked Celine Hourcade (CH) about the transformation project and the current pandemic impact.
CFG: Covid-19: curse or blessing when it comes to transformation?
CH: I would say both. This crisis is impacting people, economies, and industries like aviation very badly. Even if air cargo is the saver of aviation, many of TIACA’s members are negatively affected. I see lots of people in my network made redundant and losing their jobs. But the COVID-19 crisis is also demonstrating the vital role air cargo plays for society and economies, and how essential cargo is in the aviation spectrum.
A crisis helps to accelerate transformation. It forces companies to face facts, be more creative, faster in decision-making, focus more on delivery. All crises have something in common: they highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each system. Air freight and its stakeholders are no exception. Changes will undoubtedly occur in our industry, and I personally welcome this.
Recently, I heard pharma shippers saying that with more digital processes in place, transparency in available capacity and routes, better collaboration across all players, many of the challenges faced in March/April could have been avoided. COVID-19 showed that the air cargo community must modernize itself, embrace digital and sustainable practices, and accelerate the pace of its this transformation.
I believe and hope this crisis will be a call to accelerate the move to a digital and sustainable air cargo.
CFG: Steven Polmans said "the COVID-19 crisis forced us to slow down on our new initiatives" and that the crisis highlighted the need for community unification: Has anything new been taken up in the Transformation Project as a result of the crisis?
CH: Indeed, I believe now more than ever that the industry needs to speak in a united voice. Not “unified” as the interests of shippers, forwarders, airports, handlers, and airlines can be different, but “united” on common interests. And TIACA is uniquely positioned to play the role of facilitator in bringing all air cargo players together.
Evolving TIACA’s agenda is adapting the association’s purpose to the modern world and new expectations from members, partners, industry at large. It is about making the organization more relevant by moving from an association whose primary goals were advocacy and networking, to one that is focused on delivering content and helping its members to overcome challenges, better reflect the changes in air cargo industry and drive its modernization. With strong support expressed by TIACA’s members through a survey run in January, the new transformation program will enable the organization to:
- Unite the industry (while before our tagline was “represent” the industry)
- Lead and support change in sustainability, innovation, digital transformation, and the appeal of air cargo as a career choice
- Play an active role in educating and training industry players on air cargo economics, the need for investments in modern physical and digital infrastructure and other topics important to make air cargo more visible and higher on the broader aviation’s agenda
CFG: What are the moves towards closer cooperation and a voice on governmental levels?
CH: Advocacy efforts to ensure cargo is high on the broader aviation’s agenda are critical for TIACA’s members and the industry. Therefore, the Board has asked Vladimir Zubkov to pursue the work with ICAO, especially important in the current context.
CFG: Tell us more about Change Horizon, and how TIACA is benefiting from consulting.
CH: Change Horizon is the consulting company I founded last October with the mission to help aviation and logistics organizations in their development and transformation programs. Before that, I was working for IATA, leading the Cargo Transformation portfolio. So, transforming, challenging the status-quo, innovating business practices to meet customers’ needs are in my blood. I guess that’s why TIACA reached out to me.
We have been working together with TIACA since last fall, primarily on its Sustainability program. Very quickly it became clear that the association was suffering from organizational inefficiencies and needed to clarify its value proposition to its members.
In DEC19, the Board mandated Change Horizon to lead TIACA’s Transformation project. At that time, the objectives were to provide recommendations to the Board on how to transform the organization to ensure financial sustainability, agenda relevance and member satisfaction. The project included a Member Survey to collect feedback and identify expectations, concerns; a SWOT analysis of TIACA considering industry trends and non-profit organizations’ best practices. Based on our recommendations, the Board set-up a special Transformation Task Force to work on TIACA’s Transformation Plan, and last month they mandated Change Horizon to pursue the project, including reviewing the Governance structure to make TIACA more agile and able to represent the entire air cargo community.
CFG: How long after Change Horizon presents the transformation program at the end of AUG20, do you envisage TIACA implementing it?
CH: The association expects to complete its transformation program by the end of August 2020 with a revised governance structure and a fitter organizational set-up established. One of the key goals is to have all the documentation and revised governance proposals shared with Trustees in early September with an objective to have them adopted at the next Annual General Meeting in November 2020.
CFG: What do you see as your priorities as Transition Director of TIACA? What are the main challenges?
CFG: In addition to my role in driving the final stage of TIACA’s transformation, my priorities as Transition Director are to:
- work closely with the team in Miami: they are the assets of TIACA, and I want to build on their strengths and identify where they need more help and support to deliver more and better
- engage more with members as TIACA is their association and we need to ensure we address their needs and expectations
- focus on delivery: our members expect TIACA to offer them great networking opportunities, provide useful information for their own business, speak on their behalf, etc. So concretely, we will focus on ACF, launching a new series of webinars, providing economics insights, working on our sustainability program,…
CFG: How is the future Director General of TIACA being sourced? What qualities should s/he possess?
CH: The future Director General of TIACA will be accountable for the organization’s strategy, delivery model, team, financials, to name but a few. Today, this role is more limited and vaguely split between the Chairman of the Board and the Secretary General and it leads to inefficiencies. The New TIACA needs to be more agile and responsive to the market’s needs.
We are working on the job description and profile and in due course, the Board will look for the right person.
CFG: Has Covid-19 affected membership numbers / fees? Is there a drive to recruit more members? New segments?
CH: TIACA’s members, as the whole aviation industry, have been financially hit by the COVID-19. The association continues to support its members in this difficult time with more accommodating membership deadlines and its commitment to provide a much stronger value and urgency to remain a committed member. We believe industry needs a strong representation and are convinced that joining the new TIACA will make them stronger, more resilient, and better represented.
Before the crisis, TIACA introduced a new membership category for small-sized companies and start-ups. And we were looking at a new business development strategy to attract more members from Asia and Africa.
CFG: Has the interaction with other boards such as IATA and ICAO (others?) improved over the past 3 months and how are activities being streamlined?
CH: TIACA continues to be part of the ICAO COVID-19 Task Force. Being the voice of the international air cargo community remains a critical strategic priority for TIACA. This is what the industry and our members need and expect from us – uniting air cargo.
Outside of crisis mode, TIACA will focus on strengthening partnerships with key industry partners, starting with IATA, FIATA and ACI.
CFG: New, improved TIACA: how will you know that it has been a success?
CH: We are confident that the New TIACA will emerge with a revised mission, strong values and clear strategic priorities in line with members’ and industry’s expectations.
Our New TIACA will be fit for its new purpose, able to deliver its ambitions while maximizing the value of its membership for the air cargo community, more relevant on the global stage, and financially sustainable.
But ultimately, we will know if this is a success through TIACA’s members’ feedback!
Thank you, Celine Hourgade, for your insights.
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