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Rising star – Adam Cooper

Adam Cooper, 28, was nominated by Tony Randgaard, manager, cargo marketing, United Cargo

What’s your job title?

Senior manager, operations performance and field support at United Cargo.


Do you have training or under- or postgraduate education in this area?

I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Boston University, but my educational background doesn’t include any concentration on cargo or the airline industry.


When and where did you start in the air cargo industry?

I was serving as a United ramp operations manager at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on a temporary upgrade. I was given the opportunity to move into the LAX cargo operations manager position and that’s how I became involved in cargo.


How or why did you get into this industry?

I can’t say it was the result of any strategic planning on my part. I knew very little about cargo operations or the cargo industry before I started at LAX – just what I learned from interacting with cargo on the ramp side. Coming into United, cargo wasn’t something I expected to become involved with. But I decided to take the opportunity to learn another facet of United and airline industry operations and I’m glad I did.


What were your first impressions of this industry – and have they lasted?

As part of a generation that grew up surrounded by technology, my expectation was that every industry would be focused on using the latest technological innovations to improve their processes. From that perspective, I have to say that coming into the world of cargo was like taking a step back in time. I was surprised to see how paper-dependent the logistics process was. In some ways, unfortunately, this impression has lasted – there’s still too much paper in the process. The industry is on the right track with the various ‘paperless’ projects and e-business initiatives but, like a lot of people of many different generations, I wish we were making more progress more quickly in this area. 


What interests you about air freight?

One thing is the opportunity to make a big impact by investing in and developing technology solutions. Unlike other aspects of the airline industry, we don’t need to invent something new to make a great improvement in cargo processes. We can make things better quickly by utilising existing technology. Another thing that intrigues me about air freight is the impact it has on the worldwide economy and how it contributes to global trade. Despite the vast distances that separate the continents, in terms of marketing and purchasing new products the world is now one all-encompassing market. More and more people around the globe have the opportunity to participate in this market – as buyers, sellers, manufacturers and so on – and air freight plays a major role in facilitating that.


What do you think the industry needs to be better at?

The cargo industry needs to be much better at utilising all the advancements in technology to improve the way we do business. I’m aware of the capital and manpower costs of investing in e-business and paperless processes, and I have heard and understand all the reasons that have been given not to do this in the past. I think, as an industry, we need to bite the bullet and make it happen now or we’ll be left behind.

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