Cargo Collective: Uniting the future of Air Cargo

An intriguing question popped up on TIACA’s LinkedIn feed in the run-up to its recent Executive Summit: “Are you under 40 and headed to the #ExecutiveSummit2023? Want to make your mark within the air cargo industry?” It headed an invitation to a “Cargo Collective” evening event on 06NOV23, hosted by Sara Van Gelder, Michelle Lawrence, and Sam Quintelier, and told of a mission “to inspire the next generation and empower the future of air cargo”.
By all accounts, the evening was a complete success. So, what exactly is the “Cargo Collective”? CargoForwarder Global wanted to know, and asked the three founders to put their explanation into writing. Here it is:

Meeting for the first time at the Cargo Collective in Brussels, 06NOV23. Image: Cargo Collective

Uniting the future of Air Cargo
In a move to foster inclusivity and diversity within the air cargo industry, Cargo Collective has recently launched with a mission to empower individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, who are new to the industry. This initiative marks a significant step towards breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for the next generation. The idea for the initiative was born in the wake of the last Air Cargo Forum in Miami and has since then ripened in the heads of its founders, Sara Van Gelder, Michelle Lawrence, and Sam Quintelier. One year later, it was time to go live!

Representation and empowerment
“Our mission is to, on the one hand, empower individuals from diverse backgrounds, who are new to the industry or under-represented,” says Sara Van Gelder. “Through a global community of members and partnerships with industry events, we want to provide the support and networking opportunities necessary to grow personally and professionally. On the other hand, we want to actively collaborate with industry events, by sharing ideas on how they can help lower the barriers for the next generation to attend events and build their network. We could help the organizations with attracting alternative speakers and attendees who can bring new views, fresh ideas, and more diversity”.

The air cargo industry has long been perceived as a sector with limited accessibility, especially on the management and executive level. This is often dominated by individuals with specific backgrounds and experience. Recognizing the need for change, Cargo Collective aims to remove those barriers and provide a platform for young people from diverse backgrounds to enter and thrive in our industry.

Inclusivity and community
“Our focus is on inclusivity; so, to not only be opening doors for newcomers, but also actively working to create an environment that values and celebrates differences.” says Michelle Lawrence. “By fostering a culture of diversity, the organization believes that it can contribute to a more innovative, dynamic and future-proof air cargo industry.”

Cargo Collective’s primary goal is to empower individuals who are new to the air cargo industry by providing them with the necessary support and mentorship. We understand that entering a new field can be challenging, especially for those who may not have traditional pathways into the industry. So, having a platform of likeminded people can make a crucial contribution to your development.

“A key aspect of Cargo Collective is recognizing the power of having a community fostering professional growth and development.” says Sam Quintelier. “Through Cargo Collective, we want to create a supportive network where individuals can connect, share experiences, and learn from one another.”

Introducing the industry to potential talent
“When launching Cargo Collective, we were armed with a set of initial initiatives but while we brought forward some well-thought-out ideas, we understand the importance of creating a space where the voices of our future members can shape the narrative.” Sam goes on to say. “Yes! We really aim to avoid smothering them by going for a bottom-up approach, encouraging members to actively contribute their ideas, inputs, and requests.” adds Michelle. “One of the first initiatives includes a short video series where we feature some of our members’ individual stories on why they are attracted to, and stay, in our industry. By sharing their stories, we aim to attract talent. We are also thinking about public speaking coaching sessions, on- and offline debate sessions, a communal calendar to facilitate in-person meetings at industry events, etc.”

“We believe that the true strength of our collective lies in the diversity of perspectives and experiences within our community. By embracing an open dialogue, Cargo Collective seeks to create a dynamic and responsive environment that evolves in sync with the needs and aspirations of its members, ensuring that the initiatives undertaken truly resonate with the diverse voices within the air cargo industry.” Sara concludes.

Everyone welcome!
The group predominantly consists of individuals under the age of 40, however, it warmly welcomes individuals of all ages who share a passion for the cargo industry and are eager to contribute their unique perspectives as mentors and contributors. A diverse membership base is one of its greatest strengths.

Cargo Collective’s launch could be a turning point in our industry, signaling a commitment to change and progress. By empowering individuals from diverse backgrounds, it is not only contributing to a more inclusive industry but also unlocking untapped potential and talent. As Cargo Collective takes flight, it brings with it the promise of a more vibrant, dynamic, and equitable air cargo industry for all.

Sara Van Gelder, Michelle Lawrence, and Sam Quintelier

Editor’s note: Those wanting to know more about Cargo Collective, are encouraged to either leave a comment below, join the Cargo Collective LinkedIn page:, and/or contact the three founders via LinkedIn message.



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