30JUN23 will be his last day in the office, after a 1.5-year term as VP Business Development & Free Zone, Abu Dhabi Airports. Steven Polmans is starting his own business in the capital of the United Emirates, with focus on air freight, logistics and transportation, the manager said in response to CargoForwarder Global (CFG)’s question. “Initially on my own, but partnerships are welcome,” states Mr. Polmans (SP).
Already directly after the start of the business on 01JUL23, there will be an announcement in which the names of the first customers will be mentioned, Steven announced in a telephone interview with CargoForwarder Global. As potential clients, he targets a very broad industrial group including classic air freight companies, forwarding agents, ground handling companies or general sales agents, and even trade associations. “In my future role, I see myself as an advisor and not as a consultant,” he says, distinguishing his business model from the large group of air cargo consultants.
His vision is not to make a fast buck or to carry out a project and goodbye. Instead, he aims at sharing expertise with customers in order to trustfully cooperate long term, supporting them in reaching the next level of their development. An important aspect within this business model is to drive their digitization strategy forward, Steven emphasizes. He has particular expertise in this sector, as it was under his leadership as Director Cargo and Logistics at Brussels Airport, that the BRUcloud data sharing platform was implemented, hosted by Belgian IT specialist Nallian.
CFG: In terms of pooling expertise, wouldn’t Liège Airport's former cargo sales chief, Steven Verhasselt, be a suitable partner to work with?
SP (laughs): I cannot imagine that we will not be working together at some point or for some projects. After all, we know each other since a long time, share largely the same visions of how to grow the air freight business, and also get along very well on a personal level. I’m sure that Steven and I will collaborate at some point, but only after I have established my own company and successfully stepped into the market. After that, some doors might swing open. But que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, the future is not ours to see, as Doris Day sang back in 1956 already.
CFG: As Head of TIACA, you are well acquainted with peers such as FIATA, IATA Cargo, and others. Do such organizations play a role in your business model?
SP: Actually, a very big one. I am convinced that there is a need for more intensive cooperation between the various logistics, transport, and cargo actors. You don't always have to reinvent the wheel. But if one association has developed a forward-looking solution for improving processes in the airfreight and logistics industry, others could also benefit from it. Here, I see a considerable need for coordination as well as innovation potential for the benefit of the members. But I also see a lot of organizations that are looking for their purpose towards their members and the industry, struggling with their mission and strategy. We have been there with TIACA too, so also here I believe I can contribute.
CFG: You intend to register your new company in the UAE. Why there and what is its name?
SP: In the UAE, because the entire Middle East region is a hotspot for aviation, logistics, and business in general. Also, the connections from the Emirates to India, Europe or Africa are quite short. Only to America is it a slightly longer flight distance.
The name of the new company will be SP-ACE / Air Cargo Experts, he reveals.
TIACA role continues
Asked about his commitment at TIACA, Steven confirmed that he wants to remain the cargo association’s Chaiman. “TIACA is close to my heart, no job will come in between, and I remain committed as long as I have support from the board and our members,” Mr. Polmans said. He has held the position since JUL2019.
Drew leaves Etihad Cargo
CargoForwarder Global has learned from a reliable U.K. source of another upcoming job change: Martin Drew, Senior Vice President Global Sales & Cargo at Etihad, will leave the Abu Dhabi-based airline. “He has resigned but has not yet revealed his new career ambitions,” a person close to the case stated.
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