RCM for UK&I Daniel Byrne brought on one of the largest new customers of the last year thanks to his team’s agility during the pandemic. We talk to him about the growth of UK e-commerce, interlining solutions, and how to get more customers online
Could you talk about your background in the cargo industry?
When I left university, I worked for a temperature-controlled transport company that moved pharmaceuticals and healthcare products. I loved it, and after I took a year off to travel, I returned to the sector, working for various courier companies including FedEx, where I learned a lot about international trade, customs and how air freight works. It’s a bit like a hidden industry, in that a lot of the movement happens at night, and you wake up and hundreds of thousands of shipments are delivered on time.
In 2017, I joined IAG Cargo as a Constant Climate Sales Manager where I got the chance to be involved with customers from our largest accounts to the one-man bands, who move everything from life-saving drugs, to stem cell therapies and cough medicine. After that, I became Area Sales Manager, looking after our SME sector in the UK and managing our GSA relationship, before being promoted to Regional Commercial Manager for UK and Ireland.
What standout moments did you have as Area Sales Manager that prepared you for your new role?
During the pandemic, we have built good relationships with our SME customer base, and the way we’ve gone from strength to strength with them despite it being the most challenging year that many of us have had in our careers.
Proportionately, our SME business grew last year more than our other customer segments, which is down to the strategy and the way the team came together to meet customer demand. Last year, we won substantial e-commerce business into North America, moved 133 tonnes of Covid test kits into the US and brought on one of our largest new customers – all standout moments.
What verticals are key to the UK and Ireland, and how do you aim to grow these? Do you have plans to expand into others?
In the UK, we have the largest capacity as a cargo carrier so we have our fingers in most pies, but one of the real success drivers for us has been e-commerce and mail.
The pandemic has shifted a lot of people online – British shops are renowned for selling overseas, it’s something they do really well and cross-border e-commerce will continue to build. We remain a market leader in pharmaceuticals – an important area, particularly in Ireland. Our Critical product also plays a very important role in the region, across many verticals, such as fashion, hi-tech and aerospace. There are customers out there who still aren’t aware of the offering, so it’s our job to get out there and drive that product.
The industry has experienced an enormous shift in the last year, with reduced flying, and teams working in new, more agile ways. Are these changes here to stay?
Out of something like a pandemic, there will naturally be changes. We need to continue to be agile, responsive and creative in the face of challenges. For instance, we’ve had great success connecting our customers’ freight with destinations beyond our network thanks to our interline partnerships – moving large volumes of e-commerce and mail. We are also heavily involved in the transport of Covid-19 test kits due to the need for speed, so we’re utilising our Critical product on these.
In an age where everything is available at the click of a button, e-booking has never been more important, especially for shipments that are time-critical such as aviation parts and medical goods. Our online functionality makes it easier for customers to do business with us, and will continue to drive our volumes.
We have a team that is set up for success, and this year has underlined that as much as online is key, you need to have the right people in the right place and be able to empower them to do a good job.
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