In Air Cargo” Mathangi Krishnan could easily pass off as my aunt next door.
She is measured in her conversation, and
there is an air of calm around her, which belies the presence of Madam
Mathangi in the midst of the cacophony and helter-skelter of air cargo
But that is where her heart is.
As a partner of S Natesa Iyer & Co,
one of the oldest freight forwarders in Chennai, Madam Mathangi has completed
over 30 years in the business –
“A journey,” she terms as “exciting
and filled with loads of experiences,good and not so good!”
Patience And Attention
“Women,” she tells me, “have
a natural ability for patience and attention to details. These are great
stepping stones to a successful journey in the transportation industry.”
And, she emphasizes the need for patience
in an industry where success is measured by the minute.
“Patience, when things do not work
out as planned, is another key factor to try even harder.”
Her meticulous planning saved the day for
many some years ago.
Dignified to a degree, after a lot of insistence,
Madam Mathangi opened up to recount one of her most satisfying moments.
When Highly Skilled Is The Value
“It was the successful uplift of a
biological sample preserved in Liquid Nitrogen for research.
“The cargo originated 200 kms away
and total transit time permitted for delivery to destination was 72 hours.
"Two successive holidays were staring
into my face.
“However meticulous planning and coordination
with everyone involved—the shipper; carrier; NOC, from ADC; Customs
clearance and uplift as a DG cargo and monitoring the transhipment at
the wee hours of the day—at the end of the successful mission, the
satisfaction was really unmeasurable,” she declared.
“It was not a high value or tonnage
shipment but yet the skill and domain knowledge were truly tested and
I am happy that everything went according to plan.”
“I Got Lucky”
Madam Mathangi stepped into the freight
forwarding business, she said because she was “fortunate”
that S Natesa Iyer was “a family business”.
“The job was not in alien surroundings,”
she said brushing aside that as a lone woman in a male-dominated air cargo
industry by any measure must have been difficult for her. Madam Mathangi
smiles and says:
“I did not encounter any discrimination
. . . my seniors in office looked upon me as a new member of the family
and guided me with a lot of patience.”
She is all praise for the support she received
from her family.
In fact, her initial years living in a joint
family came as a boon.
“I could really concentrate to hone
my skills and acquire the confidence to handle the business independently.”
Later she tells me, gender bias, especially
in India, cannot really be wished away.
But she is quick to point out that “if
the competence of the person is well demonstrated, respect and admiration
“Maybe one needs to travel that extra
mile but the rewards make this journey worth the effort,” Madam
Cargo Grows With Respect
Remembering the first few days when she
joined the business 30 years ago, she says rather fondly:
“From the very first day, I have been
treated with a lot of respect and dignity.
“It is one family, sharing values
and goals,” she points out and mentions once again that her’s
has been “a very satisfying experience.”
Day In The Life Of Madam Mathangi
The lady begins her day attending to overnight
mails from customers and follows up shipments in transit.
A stickler for details, she keeps her clients
happy by “ensuring that the office sends updates to all concerned.”
Madam does not shy away from meeting key
customers and often downs a coffee to seal relationships.
Part of her duties include planning clearances,
both outbound and inbound.
As for visits to Chennai airport, they do
happen but “not very frequently as we have a robust monitoring system
Managing the office is a challenge but a
focused individual like Madam Mathangi is always on the ball. That ability
has served her well in acquiring knowledge on the job about all forms
of freight: ranging from Dangerous Goods to live animals and special cargo.
Every Day Is A New Experience
As she puts it so simply, “It is impossible
not to learn at least one new thing every day.” And all of it does
not happen within the confines of the office.
“Every small happening in any corner
of this world,” she maintains, “will affect your day-to-day
experience, hence the opportunity to learn and update is realtime.
“In India, technology plays a significant
role in conducting our daily business, so keeping up with the constant
changes and being aware of future developments is always on my learning
No Matter What You Are
Madam brings up the gender issue once again
and reiterates that, “it will be in-depth knowledge and administrative
efficiency, not gender that will be the key to success.”
As we part, Madam Mathangi has a smile on
her lips and a sparkle in her eyes:
“Huge opportunities exist for everyone!”
It was her way of saying, come, join the
fun that is air cargo.
Works for us!