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   Vol. 17 No. 53
Friday August 24, 2018

Jacques Ancher: The Thought Leader

Jacques Ancher The Thought Leader

      “I am still fascinated by this business.
     “If you stand back and take the full view of air cargo, what is in clear focus is that this is a
multi-billon dollar business driven by a large, dedicated group that includes the best, most prestigious companies in the world.
     “Air cargo is really and truly golden.
     “Although I have gotten along in years since I retired from KLM, I cannot understand why this beautiful cargo industry is still treated in some cases as a stepchild.
     “We must be doing something wrong,”
Jacques Ancher who served as Executive Vice President of KLM Cargo (1990-2001) said in 2014.

Who Is Jacques Ancher?

Richard Malkin      “Jacques brought a remarkable ability to reduce difficult issues to common terms, and he sought to maintain a reasonable balance among carrier, forwarder, and customer in a wildy competitive universe,” Richard Malkin told me one morning at breakfast in 2014.
     “In negotiations, his was the exacting language of a businessman, not of the manager of a glamorous service,” Mr.Malkin said.
“It was Shakespeare who said that nothing is good without respect, and clearly Jacques reflects the respect and appreciation of a selfless career devoted to reaching the targets and setting new goals for an industry intent on growth and profitability.”


High Praise From The Boss

     Pieter Bouw“Jacques built his own career path," said Pieter Bouw (right) who at one time sat above the KLM Cargo floor at JFK International Airport, and rose during an illustrious career to President and CEO at KLM.
     “He was one of the few in KLM taking challenging positions in both businesses: Passengers and Cargo, saying ‘the one cannot do without the other.’


Did You Hug Your Forwarder Today?

     “During the late seventies Jacques held the position of being responsible for Cargo Sales in Europe and Africa.
     “At that time there was quite some tension between airlines and the intermediaries: forwarders and consolidators.
     “Jacques kept an effective balance between direct market access and via intermediaries claiming ‘as long as they provide me with profitable business it is not important whether we like them or not, and it is better that they give their business to us than to our competitors.’
     “He often referred to the wooden sign hanging in the KLM Cargo office:
     Did You Hug Your Forwarder Today?


Enabling Independence And Innovation

     “Jacques was always very practical and action driven:
     “In all his management positions Jacques focused on enabling his team members to develop themselves in doing an excellent job as independently as possible.
     “Developing people was, in Jacques view, conditional to developing the cargo business.
     “He expected the same approach from his superiors.
     “When taking the cargo job, two members of the Management Board of KLM had an extensive experience in Cargo: Leo van Wijk and myself.
     “In the beginning we had a tendency ‘to know better’ than the man having the responsibility for the Cargo business.


Beyond Expectation

     “Jacques took us both apart and said, ‘Support my strategy, give me the tools, and I will run the Cargo business effectively, so you both have more time available to do your own job, which in my view is difficult enough.’
     “The message was clear, well understood, and accepted and from that moment on, Jacques developed the Cargo business for KLM beyond any expectations,” Pieter Bouw concluded.

Two More Things Before I Go

Jacques and female colleagues Jacques Ancher continued:

     “I also want to acknowledge the time many of us had together and how we tried to change the air cargo business.
     “But I’d like to also say that in retrospect there are two things I wish I had done differently.
     “I wish I had gone to both aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus and asked them to deliver airplanes without cargo bellies.
     “The reasoning is that new airplanes without cargo capacity would make all of our lives much simpler.
     “Under that scenario, when an airline bought an airplane the decision to carry cargo would also represent a true commitment to the air cargo business.
     “The second thing I would have done differently is the way we attempted to change air cargo by organizational structure within our company, KLM.
     “If I did it again today, I would inspire change through innovation.
     “I believe the key to change is people.
     “Only through people can you change what you are doing.
     “If you can build innovation into your structure you have a chance to win.
     “In a broader sense, cargo needs innovation, and to not work against each other.
     “To build innovation you must allow your people to experience whether new ideas can work or not work.
     “If you do that you will change not only people’s outlook, you will also change air cargo.
     “I only have to look at my grandchildren, with their thumbs and fingers zipping across a tiny mobile keyboard on a cell-phone or PDA to know that innovation is accelerating change in the world.
     “Air cargo could benefit greatly by simply looking around and building its future by innovation.”

Still The Thought Leader

     Jacques brings his own atmosphere into the sentences here.
     You might feel the air change as his words— measured, thoughtful and full of promise, move forth softly in subdued elegance.
     Thanks, Jacques.

For more on Jacques Ancher, click here.
For more of Jacques' views, click here.

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