Right now air cargo people all around the
world are more or less steeling themselves to a 2023 business climate
that is a bit milder than last year, post pandemic, for example when the
sky seemed no limit.
But for Lionel van der Walt that is not
The ever positive executive that has impacted
every assignment he has ever undertaken is back and seems ready to work
some of his magic for a UK software company branded Raft.
When Lionel van der Walt departed as IATA
CNS President in December 2017, it was a sad day for the air cargo industry
as we lost one of its most sincere, passionate, vocal, and impactful leaders.
But guess what? Air cargo pulled Lionel
back, not just once but a couple of times.
PayCargo CEO Eduardo Del Riego once cited
van der Walt’s “passionate leadership and one-of-a-kind international
business acumen,” as factors in the decision to want him at PayCargo
which is exactly where he was, when he suddenly pivoted.
In early 2022, with PayCargo expanding at
a astonishing rate, came the harrowing and monumental fright for Lionel
and his wife Ilonka–a near call with their 24 year-old daughter
Imma struck down with a brain tumor, needing to have a frankly dangerous
operation, and an uncertain result.
They somehow lucked out and got the best
medical help for this type of affliction at Duke University Hospital in
Lionel, recognizing his options were narrow,
halted everything in his life except his daughter. He told his loved ones,
friends and his business colleagues he had to step down to care for his
daughter post-brain surgery. Well, lo and behold, Imma has completely
recovered and today is back to regular life, a miracle to say the least.
Lionel, who is now at a software company
called Raft based in London, was in Nashville last week with his new team
Raft, to hear Lionel tell it, “empowers
freight forwarders to deliver more value to customers by automating the
entire freight journey for complete transparency and control.”
Lionel was out there on the hustings in
Nashville, and in other U.S. cities as 2023 gets going.
“Our intelligent freight platform
works with the TMS to orchestrate, automate and streamline data processing,
transactions, approvals, and workflows across the shipment lifecycle,
improving communications and collaboration for all our stakeholders,”
“People are the most important resource
we have in a world of constant and fast-paced change, he added
“Helping them to grow, learn and be
successful means a lot to me, and in my
experience, is an approach that always leads to outstanding results.
“My philosophy is to encourage team
members and colleagues to be bold and always challenge the status quo.
“This naturally leads to taking calculated
risks, and failures at times.
“However, my experience has also been
that many short-term failures have led to long-term successes,”
“It felt rather surreal to attend
AirCargo2023 this year.
“Just a few months back we were being
told that life as we know it, would change forever with limited in-person
contact and travel restrictions becoming the new norm for years to come.
Yet, here we are today, no COVID restrictions and nobody seems to care
about immunization cards and travel passes anymore; the threat of COVID
appears to be long forgotten for most.
“This just reminds me alongside our
other story how quickly things can change and how, despite their best
intentions, leaders can get it wrong.
“A trap we all can fall into, if we
become too complacent and self assured.
“Despite all the continuous challenges
we keep facing, the one thing that always encourages me is the resounding
optimism and adaptability I observe across our industry. Nashville, this
year was no different.
“There is no doubt that we have more
turbulent times ahead of us, but as noted by Vaughn Moore, AIT Worldwide
Logistics Executive Chairman and CEO during his keynote speech, much of
our success lies in our ability and willingness to ask for help and support
each other when needed, irrespective if we are competitors or not.
“And this is something that I feel
our industry does particularly well.
“My experience over the years has
taught me that there is a deep unspoken respect and bond amongst many
of our industry colleagues, irrespective of age, gender, sector etc.
“This is a family, dysfunctional at
times, but when it is most needed we are there for each other.
“And it all boils down to relationships
and trust, aspects that would be difficult to nurture if we did not have
opportunities such as AirCargo2023 to reconnect in person.
“And I also want to give the Global
K9 Protection Group team a huge shoutout! Eric Hare, Jeff Koehl and Chris
Daniels, you guys rock! Those who were there will know what I am talking
about, and I am sure will certainly agree with my sentiments . . . go