Shobana Devarajulu, Cargo Services Manager, Cathay Pacific at Delhi is candid enough to say that she strayed into air cargo “honestly by accident…”
Shobana joined the airline “to do aircraft weight and balance for cargo freighters” but was asked to work in cargo acceptance.
She was quick to understand the huge potential and the vast scope the work provided.
“I decided to continue in the industry,” she says. That was around a dozen years ago and Shobana has not regretted her decision since.
“I have had the best of training, exposure, and growth in the industry,” she says, which keeps her inspired to continue in this sector.
Over the years, Shobana has seen the air freight industry change, but that has not put her off.
“We are in e-mode today and it is a long way from entering details in work registers. Today,” she says, “there are better revenue management systems, automatic retrieval systems, etc.
“Take, for example, the ETV against the manual loading at a height of 10 feet...” With intensive training along with technical knowledge, which is being shared in the cargo industry, Shobana believes that “we can expect higher innovation and accelerated growth and development in the future.”
The industry is “extremely dynamic and all it requires is focused hard work. “That will surely bring in success,” says Shobana. Above all, she says confidently, “the myth of this industry being a man’s one no longer exists,” she says.
One of the few ladies in the sector, she is specialized to handle aircraft, dangerous goods, heavy/odd sized cargo, perishables and all types of special cargo.
Her work has often found her alone in warehouses.
Shobana has had to face other challenges, too, like handling aircraft in extreme weather conditions—“blistering heat in summer and chilling winds in winter”—and, of course, the constrained infrastructure.
But she remains undeterred.
She feels the air cargo industry is “dynamic and ever-evolving.
“The follow-up chain,” she says, “is longer, unlike the passenger side.”
And, the major tie that binds those in the sector is that it is “a small industry compared to the passenger side, and there is more warmth and a friendly relationship amongst the people working in it.”
Despite the obstacles that the industry faces in India today, like the lack of technology, Shobana feels that the freight industry will keep in step.
With new standards and regulations arising, there will be induction of new technology, more technically qualified staff and more training—“All this will be able to handle the new regulations,” assures Shobana.