Spotlight on… Soufiane Daher, Expert, McKinsey & Company

Consulting is also a crucial element in driving the air cargo industry forward. A fresh look at existing processes, research into available systems, and future-oriented strategies – outside experts can cross-pollinate approaches and are particularly useful if they have practically grown up in the aviation industry such as in the case of this week’s Spotlight. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) welcomes Soufiane Daher (SD), Expert at McKinsey & Company. He illustrates his responsibilities, walks us through his background and reasons for choosing the industry, and offers advice to those considering a career in air cargo.

Cargo planes are [definitely! bg] cooler! Image: Soufiane Daher

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

SD: I am an expert consultant at McKinsey. My role involves strategic support to our clients in the logistics sector, including in the air cargo industry. This means providing data-driven recommendations for a variety of topics. For example, it may be about deploying a new network, investing in a new facility, applying new technologies, or preparing a corporate acquisition. There is no shortage of interesting topics. It’s a challenging and rewarding job that keeps me on my toes!

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

SD: There is no such thing: each day brings new challenges and opportunities. A workday might involve analyzing data at my desk, or it might be traveling to another country to meet with a client. It might be leading a workshop with a large company or leading a project with a small team. Every day is different and it’s certainly not a nine-to-five job. The one constant is that it’s about solving problems – although every problem is different.

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

SD: I’ve spent the last 13 years in the air cargo industry. Aviation is actually a family affair for me: we have worked in aviation through four generations (and counting!). I’ve had a fascination with flying for as long as I can remember. As I grew older, I started to become deeply interested in business problems. Then I found aviation consulting and it became clear this was the ideal combination of my two passions.

Early in my career, I discovered air cargo – and I’ve not looked back since! I find air cargo to be a more challenging facet of aviation: it enables many high-value industries worldwide (high-tech, pharma, flowers, etc.) – each with its own unique dynamics and importance for the economy. This makes it highly dynamic and tied to global macro forces. Plus cargo planes are just cooler!

CFG: What do you enjoy most about your job?

SD: Both air cargo and consulting are people-oriented businesses. I enjoy the collaboration with colleagues and clients on a daily basis. I love working with and learning from talented individuals from diverse backgrounds. It is also incredibly rewarding to share my expertise and introduce more people to the air cargo industry. I love seeing people’s reactions when they finally learn how their beloved items have made their way from the factory to their home.

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

SD: There are several challenges, but from my perspective, the greatest one might be achieving sustainable and inclusive growth. In other words, how can we effectively reduce the environmental impact of aviation while continuing to be a major socio-economic driver. One might think that environmental concerns should lead to less flying, but air cargo enables so many industries that form the backbone of the global economy. Emerging countries, for instance, are banking on trade and air cargo, to propel their economic growth.

In doing so, we need to become more effective in using technology to optimize all aspects of the business. Other logistics sub-sectors are leading the way in these areas, and air cargo should use that as inspiration. Additionally, there is still a gap in diversity and inclusion. There is a risk of doing things the same way due to lack of gender, ethnic, age and background-related diversity.

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

SD: Follow your passion and stay curious. Learn how supply chains work and how air cargo fits within. Do some research on the key stakeholders involved – the job is different whether it is at an airline, airport, freight forwarder, handler, GSSA, etc. Practical experience is also valuable so consider pursuing traineeship/internship opportunities to learn on the job, as air cargo is a very hands-on industry.

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

SD: “The Fast and the Furious” – just not “Groundhog Day” [He smiles.]

Many thanks, Soufiane, for your input.


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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