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Rising star – Simon Elmore

Simon Elmore, 34, was nominated by Steve Montgomery, chief cargo officer, Hermes Logistics Technologies

What’s your job title?

Product manager, accounts and e-freight at Hermes Logistics Technologies.


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

I’ve always tried to do what I enjoy. I hold a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Brunel University and am currently in the process of doing a second bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences with the Open University. I am also a PRINCE2 Practitioner. I have no specific formal education relating to the air cargo industry and like to think that all of my education in this area has been acquired ‘on the job’.


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

My first job in the industry was during my second year at university in London. I took a temporary position at the London Cargo Centre at London Heathrow. I remember vividly that one of my first tasks was to visit the offices of Eva Air every day and photocopying a huge pile of old manifests and air waybills in order to find missing revenue.


How or why did you get into this industry?

I suppose a good word to describe it would be a ‘stumble’! I worked part time during the rest of my university course and was offered a permanent role as soon as I graduated. At that point, the London Cargo Centre had been bought by Menzies Aviation and so there were exciting and challenging times ahead. I got opportunities quickly and was promoted a number of times until I became deputy revenue manager at 24.


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

My first impressions were that it seemed to be a rather outdated industry and that it had a real sense of an ‘old boys club’ about it. However, with time I began to understand that what I thought of as an ‘old boys club’ was actually a network of successful, close – and often personal – relationships that had been nurtured over many years. It became obvious to me that hard work and respect were key to these relationships, but personality was also a highly valued attribute.


What interests you about air freight?

I have always liked working with and analysing data. There is a great deal of useable data in air cargo but I think that the industry doesn’t utilise it as well as it could or should do. I also like attempting to solve problems through information technology that would directly benefit a cargo handling operation. A good example of this is the fact that when I started in the industry, all cargo handling invoicing was done manually and now, through innovation and technology, we are seeing full integration of accounting processes, documentation processes and warehouse processes with the result that the vast majority of service charge applications and thus invoicing has become automated.


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

Being the Hermes product manager for e-freight I think that the need to enthusiastically embrace all proven innovations available to the industry (even if these innovations are scary and unknown) should be welcomed. Due to the number of stakeholders in the air cargo supply chain this is often a very difficult and slow-moving process, and it can get rather frustrating. In essence, IATA’s e-freight initiative is an obvious next step for the industry, but in practice the transition from a paper-heavy to a paperless environment is very problematic for many supply-chain members.


Why do you think you have done well so far in your job?

I’ve always focused on building real and lasting relationships with people that I have come across in the industry. Working for an IT supplier means that I have spent long hours on customer sites doing business studies, training users or implementing systems, and I can safely say that when you are sharing a pizza at midnight with a key user, you get to know them quite well as a person! I see a lot of the people I have met as genuine friends and think that I have done well with regards to ‘standing in the shoes’ of a customer and doing my utmost to provide them with the best solutions, service and support possible.

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