The recent World Cargo Symposium in Istanbul at the end of last month, was again the platform for IATA’s Future Air Cargo Executives (FACE) summit – an annual event for a growing network of young cargo professionals (under the age of 36) to meet and share experiences and views on the air cargo industry. FACE is now in its tenth year. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) asked its current heads, Megha Palkar (MP), Maria Jitomirski (MJ), and Ildiko Marcze (IM) to explain the initiative in a little more detail.
To date, FACE counts around 200 members – an ever-growing number since the first annual FACE Summit was held back in 2013. Some of its previous members have since gone on to become Directors of Products, Heads of Cargo, and other high-level positions in companies across the industry. In 2015, its members came up with a Vision for Air Cargo in 2030 whitepaper, which looks at the changing industry with regard to digitalization, soft skills, and product/process improvements: topics that continue to be relevant and open for discussion. Members come from different stakeholders in the air cargo supply chain, and thus bring a mixed background of ideas and experiences with them.
CFG: How is FACE organized (by whom) and what is it for?
MP: FACE (Future Air Cargo Executives) is IATA's response to the industry's need for young, aspiring, and diverse professionals, which aligns with IATA's priority to make air cargo attractive to new talent. The current FACE representatives are Ildiko Marcze, Maria Jitomirski, and Megha Palkar from the IATA Cargo team.
CFG: Why was age 36 chosen as a cut-off?
MJ: The logic of 36 was based on the existing program "alumni" checking some of the people who registered for training, including the training certificate we had at the time, and looking at university graduate ages, and those who have spent some time in the business, for example.
CFG: Who is FACE open to and how can someone join? (Membership fee?)
IM: The program is open to all air cargo / logistics employees and candidates interested in this area of work, aged under 36. It is free of charge. Those interested can join by contacting IATA at firstname.lastname@example.org
CFG: What can they expect and what is expected of them?
MP: The FACE program has 3 key priorities for the industry:
- Talent Attraction
- Talent Retention
- Fostering Innovation and Creativity
A survey was circulated to gauge the community's interest and establish what activities aligning to these three points they would like to see throughout the year. Based on the outcomes, they can expect webinars and similar initiatives during the upcoming year.
The FACE Summit that is held on the Monday before the WCS, is meant to be a platform to share, understand, and learn from peers and senior executives what the future of Air Cargo holds for young executives. We ask participants to bring their curiosity, creativity, and networking skills to these sessions to make the most of this opportunity.
CFG: Is there a mentoring program in place?
IM: Currently there is no mentoring program in operation, but we might plan one for the upcoming years. It is dependent on what the industry and our FACE participants flag as a priority. As we analyze the survey and put out actions to correspond to the leanings of the industry, we might look at collaborating with existing mentoring initiatives or setting up one of our own.
CFG: Are FACE members involved in IATA workshop projects?
MJ: Some FACE members are involved in IATA projects but not as FACE members, rather as representatives of their own organizations.
CFG: How often do FACE members meet and what kind of meetings are they? Is their travel/attendance sponsored?
IM: IATA organizes the FACE Summit annually. This is the official yearly event, always on the Monday prior to WCS. People can attend the FACE Summit free of charge. Their travel expenses are borne by the individuals (covered by their employers or themselves). FACE Summit attendants have the possibility to attend WCS at a discounted rate.
Other than this, the FACE community has the liberty to organize country level/regional meetings in person or online. IATA is encouraging this activity and FACE leads are present if feasible.
CFG: How many attended the FACE Summit on 24APR23? Was it hybrid or only physical? How long did it last? What were the main topics? And are there any action points as a result? What
MP: The FACE Summit on 24APR23 hosted 35+ participants. The meeting took place in Istanbul, from 2 p.m. to 5.15 p.m. The meeting was a physical meeting.
The main topics covered were as follows:
- Career growth stories from 2 young professionals
- Most important skills/qualities employees are looking for in candidates
- Panel discussion on the expectations of young generation employees vs expectations of employers, and how to bridge this gap
- Workshop: Making Air Cargo Appealing to Young Talent. This was a facilitated workshop, required participation from all participants, and lasted 1 hour. The different groups defined during the workshop will now continue to work together on the topic allocated to them, with the objective to publish a whitepaper on the subject this year. This also gives an excellent opportunity for participants to stay connected and discuss a wide range of topics.
CFG: How do members in FACE get in touch with each other? Is there a special platform?
MJ: FACE members can connect each other via diverse channels such as LinkedIn, Teams, email, or phone number if they have shared that within the community. There are also some groups of people who work in the same region/sector/company, so they can reconnect face to face as well.
Thank you, Megha, Maria and Ildiko. In the hope that this information encourages more young talent to join FACE.
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