There are scores
of people with highly-developed intelligence,
strength, and ability in air cargo, but
there is something unique about Mark Albrecht,
United’s Director of Cargo International
Operations, Logistics, Claims and Cost Oversight.
Mark is living proof that some people can juggle
several responsibilities and still perform each
one at an advanced level.
As his lengthy title
at the Chicago-based carrier suggests, Mark’s
directs several key functions for United Cargo.
After speaking to him for just a few minutes,
you realize his success is rooted in the innate
ability to listen effectively and size up situations
Sure You’re Right
If that sounds like
to you like pioneer American frontiersman Davy
Crockett, whose motto was “Be sure you’re
right and then go ahead,” you will get no
argument from us.
Up & Pays Attention
Mark operates out
of a neat window-walled office on the 17th floor
at United’s Corporate Service Center in
A look around the
room leaves little doubt about the occupant’s
primary focus each day, as Mark orchestrates his
team’s efforts while standing in front of
an oversized computer monitor.
effective tool to develop is the ability to sense
things before they happen,” Mark declares,
quickly revealing a basic truth.
for every air cargo organization is to be the
first to act on the best ideas.
“We hire smart
people, point them toward a problem or task and
let them do the rest,” he insists.
“If you put
the right people in the right place and encourage
collaboration and creativity, they’ll figure
out the best way to accelerate the team’s
in the late 1990s I was brought into Cargo with
the mission to ‘save the freighters,’”
the 34-year United Airlines veteran says.
operating four converted DC-10s with the goal
of increasing the available capacity between our
burgeoning Pacific routes and the rest of the
right away that the aircraft were not a good fit
for the route network they were tasked to serve.
we learned the hard way that a mechanical delay
or cancellation on a single freighter could cause
a ripple of chaos throughout the entire system.
“It was a
bitter pill to swallow, but we ended up saving
ourselves by scrapping our freighters!
“The new generation
of passenger aircraft now carry cargo payloads
as large as our old DC10-Fs, and Cargo’s
contributions are considered when United’s
route decisions are made, so there’s no
regret here about focusing solely on belly freight.”
reference on Mark’s business card comprises
not just the contractual and financial relationships
with United Cargo’s service handlers and
trucking partners, but includes overseeing several
operational enhancements and expansion projects
in progress all around the system.
enhancing the product offering for pharmaceuticals
or perishables, boosting operational capabilities
with investments in next-generation containers,
or expanding warehouse space at UA’s Newark
hub, Mark and his intrepid team evaluate RFP responses,
audit purchases and administer capital requests.
They also manage the carrier’s trucking
network, handle ULD purchases and logistics, and
process and settle all cargo-related claims.
focus of the team is adapting our facilities plan
to accelerate Cargo’s joint venture partnerships.
Our MuoR (Move under one Roof) program, where
we co-locate handling facilities with Lufthansa,
has been successfully instituted in Munich with
Frankfurt and additional locations planned to
of The Group
Mark smiled when
asked how he keeps his multifaceted group motivated,
pointing to a recent team-building activity when
20 members of Mark’s International Operations
team created their own original artwork. The painting
turned out to be an active interpretation of everyone’s
unique view of the Chicago skyline.
the collaboration was that we had the time and
freedom needed to bring our own creativity and
expression to the piece.
art exercise was so different from our daily activities,
it unlocked feelings and viewpoints that were
refreshing and even surprising to the participants
and their teammates.
we stood back to view the masterpiece, different
team members articulated their personal interpretation
of what they saw. The upshot was, while looking
at a piece of art you helped create, the work
was also looking back at you.
“Being a part
of this effort guided by professional artists
was not only rewarding and enjoyable, but boosted
our team camaraderie and respect for each other’s
talents,” Mark concluded.
Best Surprise Is No Surprise
Based on his role
at UA, it’s no surprise that Mark Albrecht’s
educational focus was on finance. (He holds a
BS from Elmhurst College in Illinois and an MBA
from the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business
at DePaul University.)
What is interesting
is how his background led to a career in air cargo.
Mark started his
professional life at age 20, working at First
Federal Savings and Loan in Elgin, Illinois.
After he became
friendly with an S and L depositor from the United
Airlines Credit Union, the connection led to Mark
being hired by United: he joined the Credit Union’s
Accounting Department on October 15, 1984.
Flight Attendant Experience
When he opted to
go back to college for a further degree, he retrained
to be a flight attendant as that role provided
the schedule flexibility he needed to complete
Mark flew on DC-8s
and 10s domestically, and he also worked on special
assignments like opening flight attendant bases
in Paris and London and awarding annual flight
long before he came down from the skies to the
corporate side at United, where his math and organizational
skills and onboard experience led him into flight
attendant scheduling, then into flight network
scheduling and ultimately into United Cargo.
Got to Have Heart
Today, Mark recognizes
every job and experience he’s had as valuable,
as he employs every life lesson learned in his
That includes his
recent engagement to Laura, who, as Mark says,
When asked what
drives him personally, Mark reveals that “I
wake up every day excited about what will happen
next at United Cargo and how my team can make
at United and in Cargo is invigorating and electric.
Cargo President Jan Krems encourages us all to
work together, brainstorm, innovate and make decisions
that implement new ideas or better ways to do
what we’re already doing. This creates an
atmosphere that is dynamic, challenging and very