For this month’s Alfa member interview, we had a conversation with Umah Karen Klang, Malaysia. He talked about his career so far, reducing the carbon footprint of logistics and how to set yourself apart as a freight forwarder.

How did you get started in the logistics industry and what has your journey been like so far?

Getting started in the logistics industry typically involves a combination of passion, education, training, and experience. In my case, I kick-started my career with an entry-level position focusing on documentation. The passion for logistics kept me moving to the next level, working with some great local and international talents/mentors. Continuous networking, on-the-job training and skill development training fast-tracked my career progression.

Eventually, I landed in a much-awaited leadership role(s). These positions involved strategic decision-making, managing larger teams, and driving overall business success. Throughout my journey, I remained committed to learning, attended leadership seminars, enrolled in executive education programs, and stayed current with technological advancements, my ability to adapt to changing market conditions and regulatory landscapes continued to drive success for the company.

If there is one thing that you could change to the logistics industry, what would it be and why?

One significant change that could greatly benefit the logistics industry and the world as a whole is a greater emphasis on reducing the carbon footprint contributed by logistics operations and sustainability. Here’s why this change is important: Environmental Impact, Resource Efficiency, Public Perception and Corporate Social Responsibility, Regulatory Compliance, Long-Term Viability, Innovation and Technological Advancements, Collaboration and Supply Chain Resilience, Future-Proofing the Industry.

As sustainability becomes a global priority, industries that fail to adapt may face challenges in the long term. By making sustainable practices an integral part of the logistics industry, it can position itself for continued growth and relevance in a changing world. It’s worth noting that efforts are already underway in the logistics industry to promote sustainability. Many companies are exploring alternative fuels, optimizing routes to reduce emissions, implementing greener packaging solutions, and investing in renewable energy sources. However, there’s still a long way to go, and a collective effort from all stakeholders will be necessary to bring about meaningful change.

What do you like most about the industry and your job in particular?

What I have learned and still learning, in brief, is challenges and problem-solving are unavoidable in logistics; which means we must be proactive and ever-ready to be caught off guard by the ever-changing dynamics of logistics components domestically & internationally. The logistics industry is constantly adapting to changing circumstances, which can be exhilarating for individuals who thrive in dynamic environments. Teamwork and Collaboration: Logistics operations require close collaboration between various teams and departments, such as procurement, operations, transportation, and customer service. This teamwork aspect can foster a sense of camaraderie and shared goals. It also gives Career Progression: The logistics industry offers opportunities for career growth and advancement and never-ending learning which drives my passion higher; on a constant basis. Starting in entry-level roles, individuals can work their way up to positions of greater responsibility, such as logistics manager or top management positions. Constant learning is what drives me to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of technology, regulations, and best practices, logistics professionals are always learning. This can be intellectually stimulating and appealing.

How do you set yourself apart from your competitors?

In the freight forwarding and logistics industries, setting yourself apart from competitors is paramount for success. We are in the same industry, offering similar services; however, the need to differentiate our services with a personal touch sets me apart from my competitors. Here are some strategies that I often employ to differentiate myself.

  1. Providing exceptional customer service can be a significant differentiator.

  2. Being responsive, proactive, and attentive to clients’ needs can create and develop a strong personal bond of trust and loyalty.

  3. Tailoring my services to meet the unique needs of my clients. One solution doesn’t suit the requirements of all my clients. Offering flexible solutions that adapt to various industries, cargo types, and transportation modes can set me apart.

  4. Competitive pricing without compromising the quality of services.

  5. Proactive transparent Communication: Keep clients informed about their shipments’ status and potential issues. Transparency builds trust and helps manage expectations.

  6. Establish a strong brand presence and reputation by paying attention to constructive customer reviews, case studies, and success stories.

  7. Invest in employee training and development to ensure the team is knowledgeable, skilled, and capable of handling various logistics challenges.

It is crucial to remember that differentiation is an ongoing process. Regularly assessing market trends, client feedback, and industry developments to refine strategies will give competitive advantages.

What do you like the most about being a member of our logistics network?

Being part of a well-established & strong global network of partners and agents can demonstrate our ability to handle international shipments effectively and efficiently. Networking and Partnerships: Collaborate with other players in the industry to offer comprehensive solutions to customers. Leveraging on the network, CGF was able to provide value-added options to our clients. Since joining the network in March, we have established direct cooperation with partners in the US, UK, Norway, Finland, Italy, Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Philippines, China, and Thailand.

We have been actively supporting rate inquiries from various partners from around the world. It has elevated our passion to support more partners. We are thrilled to receive such an overwhelming number of rate inquiries and job assignments from the partners despite us being the new joiner. This shows that we are being recognized as a capable and trustworthy new joiner.

How do you relax in your free time?

My zen time is usually shared between reading, listening to music, watching movies, exercising, and engaging in nature walks to rejuvenate. With sufficient rest, additional spare time is spent wisely on socializing, connecting with friends, and traveling to explore and experience new places, food, and cultures.

— Thanks, Umah !