Recently appointed RCM for Europe and Africa, Freddie Overton discusses how his experience will impact his new role, vaccine roll-out in 2021 and how the pandemic has transformed the business
Could you talk about your career trajectory with IAG Cargo?
This is my second stint with IAG Cargo. I first joined in 2015 in the Constant Climate sales team after a few years at Rolls Royce on their graduate scheme. I worked in Constant Climate for a year and a half, which offered a great introduction to the business and also the pharmaceutical side of the role. I got the chance to talk to many types of customers from freight forwarders and shippers to manufacturers.
The opportunity then came up to take on a Sales Negotiation Manager role, which involved setting up a new team to deal with ad hoc transactional shipments out of the UK and Ireland. We were implanted into customers’ offices in London, and it was very fast-paced. In 2018, I left the business for a year to work at CargoLogicAir, a full freighter carrier, but I came back to IAG Cargo in 2019 to take over the role of Area Sales Manager for Benelux, Germany and Switzerland, before moving into this current post of RCM for Europe and Africa.
How have your previous roles prepared you for this new position?
What’s helpful about my experience is that I’ve already been in roles that require in-depth knowledge of systems and processes – particularly in the Constant Climate team. I was involved on a granular level, monitoring shipments with Operations and ensuring that any issues were quickly resolved. In the Sales Negotiation role, I was focused on managing and helping our team perform as well as possible, while at CargoLogicAir and in my most recent role at IAG Cargo, I developed a thorough understanding of the different geographies that we cover and the uniqueness of every market and its different drivers.
How will Europe and Africa as regions differ to others that you’ve worked with before?
They are crucial regions and provide huge variety in terms of commodities and market dynamics. You’ve got Germany and Italy for instance, with its massive manufacturing output, and then the more niche markets such as Norway, where there are huge amounts of fish being exported. Israel, which also falls under my remit, is an important tech and pharmaceutical hub, while Switzerland is also strong for pharma, as well as other valuable shipments. In Africa, you’ve got perishable-heavy cities such as Johannesburg, Nairobi and Accra, as well as important general cargo stations like Lagos and Abuja. It’s a hugely varied role, and region, within IAG Cargo.
Can you talk about transit of Covid vaccines between and within Europe and Africa? How are your teams treating this?
We’ve played an important part in the transport of Covid vaccines within and out of Europe, thanks to our wide-body network linking to destinations such as Madrid, Zurich and Amsterdam. We’re ready to go and we’ve already moved a consignment of vaccines to the Canary Islands on Iberia aircraft and the first shipment of Moderna vaccines to land in Ireland, from Amsterdam to Dublin with Aer Lingus. We have specialist sales managers in place for Constant Climate who have detailed meetings with forwarders and shippers to discuss their custom needs, whether it’s onboard priority or extra security, and they are ready and able to cater to them.
The pandemic has accelerated growth in parts of the business, such as the introduction of charters and cargo-only flights. Do you foresee other opportunities or pivots that IAG Cargo could seize in the future?
In many ways, I believe that the pandemic has brought out very good qualities in the business. If you’d have told me a year ago that we’d be able to set up cargo-only flying or charters, I wouldn’t have believed you. The fact that we’re now here and talking about these things is remarkable and I’m proud of the team and that I played a small part in getting some of that going. I think the opportunity in 2021 is strong. Air cargo will have a major role in regions such as Europe and Africa, which has key manufacturing hubs as well as key vaccine production hubs, but we have a crucial part to play in keeping the world fed as we have done for years, whether its blueberries from South Africa or peppers from Israel.
Looking for reasons to fly with IAG Cargo? Find out more here.