Fishing, wakeboarding and exploring with family and friends keep this global logistics executive happy

Published: Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Home for Keith Marshall has always been South Africa, renowned for its diverse wildlife, varied topography, great natural beauty, and cultural diversity. It was there that he got his exposure in the global logistics industry which eventually became his career.

“Logistics has always been an integral part of my life. My father founded one of the first air express companies in South Africa in the early 80s. I roamed many warehouses and surfed many conveyor belts back in those days over my weekends and holidays. During my high school years, I spent afternoons, evenings, weekends and holidays working in the express parcel arena and was one of the first people to operate FedEx’s “Powership” program in the mid-90’s….From there, I worked my way into the operational and commercial sectors of some prestigious forwarders within South Africa, holding responsibility and accountability for areas in South Africa and across Southern Africa during that time,” shared Marshall, CEVA Logistics’ Regional Leader for Air Products in the Middle East and Africa the Middle East and Africa.

With extensive knowledge in the logistics and supply chain industry, including negotiations, operations management, air freight, Marshall and his team overcame many challenging situations to ensure that shipments are delivered for their clients on time and safely.

“In the early 2000s, there were some terrible floods in Mozambique. My first charter experience was loading humanitarian aid by hand into an Ilyushin 76, which had just returned from a flight carrying live animals. The sight and smell of that aircraft will never leave me, but we persisted, nonetheless, and the aid departed on time. When COVID-19 started, I was working with a niche forwarder, and we decided that it was either time to pack up and go home or establish and entrench ourselves within the market and customer base. As a niche provider, we ran five charters, three of which we paid for in advance and then sold back into the market,” Marshall recalled.

He described their job as a “a roller coaster of successes and failures, but the team around me, from the shareholders to the staff cutting the airway bills, never lost faith and sight of what we were trying to accomplish.”

Today, Marshall and his team continue to innovate to find ways to accomplish their mission due to volatile situations in many parts of the world, including that of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“There was a double rotation involved with many complexities brought on by COVID-19 and the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which was threatening the movement. We didn’t sleep for approximately 10 days, and we spent many hours on calls, brainstorming options, solutions and possibilities,” he shared.

The complexities involved in the global logistics industry are great and sometimes feel overwhelming. Marshall finds solace in spending time with his family and friends to keep his work-life balanced.

“In South Africa, I would go fishing or wakeboarding with friends and family, or ride my motorcycle in an urban environment. Having recently moved to Dubai, I have had to change this and identify new ways to unwind. My boys are now young adults, studying in South Africa. So, it’s only me and my wife here in Dubai. We are thoroughly enjoying living in a city environment and exploring all the region has to offer at our own pace,” Marshall shared.

Adding, “I am regularly checking in with friends and family and spending time doing things that I enjoy in order to recharge my batteries. Being authentic to who you are, privately and professionally, also plays a big role in this for me.”

Having been in the industry for more than 20 years, Marshall advises the young to find something they love to do to be able to build a career in their chosen path. “The world doesn’t owe you anything. Hard work isn’t always rewarded and life isn’t always fair. Life is a great, wild ride and one that should always be approached with positivity, humility, and kindness,” he said.