ECS Group Nurturing tomorrow's industry leaders

Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Teaming up with colleges, universities, numerous startup nurseries and accelerators as well as airlines and transit agents around the world, ECS is launching the #NexGenLeaders—a project that challenges the best young innovators to come up with new ideas on how to improve the air cargo industry. The best projects will be revealed at “Air Cargo Europe” in Munich, Germany in June 2019.

Behind all successful companies are people. The employees who think and execute the work. The management that oversees the operations and directs its future. And the consumers who patronize the products or services that companies sell.

Despite the emergence of new technologies that have taken over many sectors in recent years, the value of human capital remains strong in the air cargo industry so much that it continues to invest on people, empowering them with new knowledge, skills and techniques.

ECS Group, the largest integrated GSSA worldwide with more than 1,000 strong employees across 69 offices in 47 countries, is taking its human capital investment a notch up with the launch of #NexGenLeaders—a project that challenges the best young innovators to come up with new ideas on how to help improve the air cargo industry.
Adrien Thominet, CEO of ECS Group, explained to Air Cargo Update the project is aimed at discovering new talents and tomorrow’s industry leaders and giving them the opportunity to grow in the GSSA industry.

“We indeed have the intention to launch an ambitious project on the international scale to discover tomorrow’s industry leaders. In the four corners of the world, the project will be an opportunity for students, startups and ECS group employees to make their ideas known and to deploy their talents with the same goal: rejuvenating our industry by way of innovation,” says Thominet who is deeply passionate about empowering the Millennials with industry opportunities.

“Known as #NexGenLeaders, this project will consist of a challenge lasting almost 6 months, with a totally dematerialized on-line part followed by a live finale. The grand jury consisting of experts from our industry will elect the best projects which will be revealed during the Munich “Air Cargo Europe” event in June 2019,” he added.

The project involves collaborating with many colleges and universities worldwide as well as numerous nurseries and accelerators. ECS said #NexGenLeaders will be a wide-ranging activity for the company this year. The initial response has been encouraging with even airlines and transit agents pledging support.

“Convinced of the value of this project, several partners (airlines and transit agents) have also promised their support to help us carry this project through,” said Thominet.

A Dynamic Network

With an operation that spans through continents, dozens of countries, involving multi-cultural workforce working at different time zones, ECS Group says people united with common goals despite their diversity is the core strength that drives it to succeed.

“The strength behind ECS Group has always been our expertise and, more particularly, the expert input of our collaborators all over the world. Local group managers are fully aware of their market and have established privileged ties with their partners. These “local heroes” as we sometimes call them form a single joint network enabling our Group to develop over the years. Our managers and collaborators have a wide range of profiles adding to our complementary capability and making our Group particularly dynamic from the commercial standpoint,” explained Thominet.

“The men and women in the group are the keystone behind our growth. Although we have our eyes constantly turned toward the future, we also count a great deal on the new generation to take up the everyday challenges and invent tomorrow’s industry with a new way of seeing things and having groundbreaking ideas. We are convinced that their new ways of seeing things, from an external standpoint, are the ideal complement for the skills of our more experienced collaborators,” he continued.

Combining the expertise of the company’s experienced people while welcoming innovative ideas, help ECS Group maximize its resources and spell growth.

“What we are striving to do at ECS Group is to add together all these strengths and complementary profiles. They represent our ace card and we are reaping the benefits of this strategy every day, within the group, the affiliates, and more generally on an industry-wide scale,” said Thominet.

New deals

ECS Group capped 2018 with new partnerships, collaborations and prospects for expansion. First, it welcomed new shareholder Naxicap, a multibillion private equity firm focusing on leverage buyouts and growth capital.
Thominet said Naxicap’s entry as investor will enable ECS Group to “considerably bulk up our investment plan and work on new acquisitions to expand our already considerable network even more.”

In Latin America, ECS Group formed a new partnership with the Brazil-headquartered BCS Air, enabling it to expand on the market.

“Our partnership is the result of a long friendship and we are now reaping all the benefits. The BCS AIR team, headed by the particularly proficient João Ferreira, this is what one might call a perfect team, recognized as the leading GSSA in Brazil, for technical and innovative accomplishments. The team is dynamic, enthusiastic and deeply committed to the future of our group and its expansion, especially in Latin America,” Thominet shared.
Last year, ECS also demonstrated its growing expertise on Total Cargo Management (TCM) by replacing the airline entirely for the complete cargo chain.

“This service offer, the heart of our strategy, illustrates the confidence that our airline partners put in our expertise and performance. We have this type of partnership with JetStar Asia, Air Italy and more recently with NokScoot. We are particularly proud of this cooperation which points toward the future of our group,” said Thominet who noted that this is an important goal for ECS Group that requires deep commitment from its team.
This year, ECS Group envisions keep up with its positive growth with new projects, products and innovations with Thominet saying they are “constantly on the lookout for new, solid and sustainable partnerships.”

“ECS Group now has locations in the four corners of the world and our network extends to every continent. it does not prevent us from continuing our organic growth however, through acquisitions (recently in Latin America with BCS AIR and last year with EXP-AIR Cargo in Canada); other projects are under way and every day is a challenge to plan the way our group could deploy further. We take great care of this network which is what makes us strong, stronger from day-to-day. It is particularly true in North-east Asia and the Pacific where we have several ongoing projects for expansion to help us better set up in the region,” the CEO said.

Adrien Thominet, the CEO of ECS Group, has been with the company for more than 23 years. An economics graduate, he first worked in New York and Tokyo before settling back to his roots, Paris, France.

Constantly looking out for growth, this pragmatic and dynamic business leader who helped steer the company to new heights in the GSSA industry, shares more insights with ACU on different issues facing the air cargo industry.
As someone who has been in the GSSA business for many years, please briefly tell us the perks of nurturing a career in this industry.

Our industry is somewhat water-tight but it does actually offer thousands of opportunities. With the constantly growing demand, the air cargo industry is developing continuously, and the field of possibilities is as open as ever. The industry players are all driven by the same concern for performance and renewal.

The industry is particularly effective for those who dare. In this line of thinking, it is also possible to bring to the fore innovative ideas, and to move the traditional ways of doing things. In short, it means constantly maintaining action and taking up new challenges every day. From a more personal standpoint, I have had the opportunity of working in a group which has never stopped its expansion in terms of performance and geographical coverage. My job is especially interesting, as is the group in which I work. Being constantly in the field, face to face with the players who make and keep this industry alive is an experience which is a long way from the humdrum will never be a simple routine.

The Yellow Vest Movement in France is gaining momentum, what’s your stand on issues being raised as one of the biggest employers in the GSSA industry?

Above all, the Yellow Vest Movement is a protestation movement reacting to the government policy (tax on automobile fuel, increased cost-of-living). At ECS Group, we do not “do” politics but at the heart of our concerns lies the well-being and development of our cooperators. There is a very strong team spirit at ECS group and we want to develop it, by setting up various tools and processes, by internal communication, organization and above all, by involving the teams to the utmost so that they feel that they are supported by the group.
The Yellow Vest Movement has not affected our group in any way and has not had any impact on our quality of service and our in-house organization.

In terms of innovations, please share with us your latest projects in this front.
Internally, we have begun to deploy business intelligence and reporting tools. These innovative solutions will revolutionize our way of working and dealing with the various markets. Not only are these tailor-made tools easy to use, but they also represent a considerable gain in time and boost our performance enormously. We will soon be announcing a new product.

Innovation is therefore the heart of our concerns and our everyday work, without it being a constraint. On the contrary, we see it as a tool, a driving force and a target. That is why innovation is part of the 5 values at ECS Group.

In your opinion, how can the air cargo industry in general address problems with digitalization?

As mentioned previously, the matter of innovation, digitization or any other conversion of our methods should not be seen as a constraint but as a chance. Change is often considered warily, whereas it should be greeted enthusiastically.

Digitalization is essential for our industry and we must accompany this change. Obviously, the change is already taking place but without everybody’s backing, it will take longer for the process to be implemented entirely. Performance improvement and making our daily work easier should offer the means of overriding any reticence in changing our way of working.