Spotlight on… Ram Menon, Group Chief Commercial Officer, Wallenborn Transports

The reason the air cargo industry is still around, is down to the multitude of incredible individuals keeping it running. And some of those are fortunate to have had industry knowledge passed down through their own family members. This week’s CargoForwarder Global’s ‘Spotlight On…’ talks to Ram Menon (RM), Group Chief Commercial Officer of Wallenborn Transports. He takes us through his responsibilities and industry experience, and has a lot of advice for those looking to forge a career in air cargo.

Second Generation Air Cargo – “it’s in my blood”. Image: Ram Menon

CFG: What is your current function? And what are your responsibilities?

RM: Group Chief Commercial Officer, Wallenborn Transports. I am responsible for the Key Accounts, Sales, Product Management, Invoicing, and Marketing teams across the Wallenborn Group. I work closely with the leadership team to deliver operational excellence and added value for Key Accounts.

CFG: What does a normal day look like for you? Or is there such a thing?

RM: No two days are the same. Given that Wallenborn is a multi-layered company with offices all over Europe & the Middle East, delivering different products, every day is a new day. Given the commercial aspects of my role, most of our customers are outside of Luxembourg, being based pan-EU, the Americas, China etc… Therefore, traveling is a big part of the daily routine, whether it is to visit customers or our different branches. It is very important to me to have the face-to-face aspect of working together. A lot can be done via Teams, but this business is and will always remain a people business, so we put a lot of focus on that.

CFG: How long have you been in the air cargo industry, and what brought you to it?

RM: I have been around air cargo my entire life as I am the ‘second generation’ in my family to be in air cargo. My father was the founder of Emirates SkyCargo so you can say air cargo runs through my blood. Professionally I have been working in the domain for 11 years now. Took a small break when I was with Amazon but came back to my roots last year when I re-joined Wallenborn.

CFG: What do you enjoy most about your job?

RM: Logistics is a dynamic industry with constant challenges. I don’t like quiet and calm, so the hectic nature of the business appeals to me. I get to meet new people, experience new cultures and ways of thinking on a very regular basis, which helps me grow as a person. There are so many talented people in the industry that the scope and potential to learn and grow are unending. To survive and thrive, you learn to make decisions on the fly and execute without having all facts, making sure that life is never boring. I enjoy building lots of somethings out of nothings, and truly enjoy running teams and helping my teams to grow as individuals. I believe in the pass-it-on concept and was lucky enough to learn from some of the best; so now it is my turn to share where possible and also to continue learning.

CFG: Where do you see the greatest challenges in our industry?

RM: People and technology are the two biggest factors. It is getting harder and harder to attract talent for numerous reasons, and the age delta within the industry is becoming apparent. You have a lot of the founders and pioneers coming of age where they enjoy their well earnt retirements, but the knowledge gap is growing larger and larger as the transfer of tribal knowledge is not being done in a structural way. Technology is a big topic as well. In discussing with my dad, challenges that we are facing today are the same ones that he faced two decades ago, showing that there has been a distinct lack of innovation on many fronts with regards to air cargo. E-commerce has shown that there is a way, but the air cargo industry needs to adapt and get with the times as well now in or to sustainably scale and grow in the future.

CFG: What advice would you give to people looking to get into the air cargo industry? Any particular training they should aim for?

RM: Come into the industry with a eyes wide open perspective. This is a tough industry to be in with many challenges and rewards. If you want an easy life, then go work for the government. If you like a challenge and want to continuously be tested, this is the place to be. Start small, start humble and work your way up. In this industry, if you work hard, you can and will be rewarded. I started at the bottom doing truck monitoring and then planning and worked my way up within a decade. Anything is possible if you risk it for the biscuit and trust that things will work out. Getting training via university or certifications is super important and I put a lot of value on this, however, theory and practice are worlds apart sometimes, and having both is super important. Hence, get stuck in, start from the bottom, and work your way up. Understand the company / industry that you are in from the grassroots level and keep being hungry for growth. Learn by doing has always been my motto and I continue to live by it.

CFG: If the air cargo industry were a film/book, what would its title be?

RM: Sun Tzu, the art of war.

Excellent! Thank you, Ram.


If you would like to share your personal air cargo story with our CargoForwarder Global readers, feel free to send your answers to the above questions to cargoforwarderglobal@kopfpilot.at We look forward to shining a spotlight on your job area, views, and experiences.

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