Spotlight on… Justin Atchison, Air Pricing and Procurement Manager DACH, CEVA Logistics

CargoForwarder Global’s ‘Spotlight On…’ series highlights the many different functions in the air cargo industry and talks to people involved in those jobs. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to arranging air cargo transportation. Just one such aspect, and a crucial one when it comes to planning and commercial decision making, is pricing and procurement. This week, Justin Atchison, Air Pricing and Procurement Manager DACH at CEVA Logistics, takes us through his role, talks about what brought him to our industry, and has a few words of encouragement for those considering a career in air cargo.

Adaptability and mindset are crucial. Image: Justin Atchison

CFG: What is your current function? And what are your responsibilities?
JA: I lead the pricing and procurement team for the DACH region in the air cargo division at CEVA Logistics. My team and I manage tenders, long-term agreements, and spot business. Our goal is to unite all stakeholders — sales, customers, operations, and providers such as airlines, truckers, and handling agents — to find optimal solutions. Recently, I joined a European working group to share and implement best practices across various countries to enhance customer service.

CFG: What does a normal day look like for you? Or is there such a thing?
JA: In logistics, no two days are alike. Some days, I work on projects like improving pricing logic and streamlining processes with colleagues from other regions. On other days, urgent requests can disrupt plans, requiring immediate solutions. As we’ve seen over the past few years, unexpected challenges can include pandemics, geopolitical conflicts, severe weather, or unexpected offloads.

CFG: How long have you been in the air cargo industry, and what brought you to it?
JA: I entered the air cargo industry a decade ago through a trainee program with Lufthansa Cargo. I was more interested in the passenger side while studying air transport, but the opportunity to join a global cargo airline in the U.S. piqued my interest. After completing my trainee program, I handled pricing and related projects, including dynamic pricing in the Americas and new product implementation. Back in Germany, I helped implement the largest cargo joint venture on the North Atlantic, collaborating with experts from Lufthansa and United Cargo. This experience showed me the power of a diverse and skilled team with a common goal and what change it can bring. These lessons I now apply in my current role.

CFG: What do you enjoy most about your job?
JA: I love the constant learning and the competitive nature of the industry. Meeting customers and understanding the specifics of their businesses is particularly rewarding. I leverage my experience and network to enhance current solutions. Additionally, I depend on a wide range of colleagues from project logistics, ocean, ground, customs, and contract logistics, which provides ample opportunities for development and innovation. Working in an organization with a global reach adds to the excitement.

CFG: Where do you see the greatest challenges in our industry?
JA: Apart from industry volatility and consolidation efforts, digitization poses a significant challenge. While forwarding remains a people business, reducing transaction costs through automation is crucial. However, automating processes can diminish flexibility and personal connections with customers and team members. The key is to implement digital solutions smartly while maintaining valuable personal interactions. We must constantly evaluate where personal interaction adds value.

CFG: What advice would you give to people looking to get into the air cargo industry? Any particular training they should aim for?
JA: Adaptability and mindset are crucial. I’ve worked with geologists and linguists who became passionate and knowledgeable about air cargo. While formal education, apprenticeships, or internships are beneficial, the industry offers opportunities for those eager to work. Get your foot in the door, gain experience, and you can move around within the industry.

CFG: If the air cargo industry were a film/book, what would its title be?
JA: ‘Hitch – The Date Doctor.’ The forwarding industry is about creating useful matches, much like dating. Trust and honesty are paramount. Misrepresentation can quickly sour relationships, necessitating the search for new providers or customers. Success hinges on genuine and transparent interactions.

Many thanks, Justin, 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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