Gym, Hip-Hop music & taste of the world delight this cargo SVP
Few women would have successfully chartered a career in the air cargo industry like Kirsten de Bruijn, Qatar Airways Cargo’s Senior Vice President, Cargo Sales & Network Planning. And she’s earned it through unrivalled hard work, ingenuity and sense of accountability.
After holding several positions in the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Group (now Marriott International), she joined Martinair where she spent five years working and gaining exposure in both passenger and cargo departments.
“My last position with Martinair was Director of Operations Americas, based in Miami. After the merger with Air France KLM, I transitioned to lead the capacity and revenue management and pricing department in APAC region, based in Singapore before moving on to the Global Pricing role in Amsterdam. In 2016, I joined Emirates as VP Cargo Pricing and Interline where I spent just over 4 years based at the carrier’s headquarters in Middle East and alongside this role, I also led the digital cargo transformation initiatives at Emirates SkyCargo,” de Bruijn recalled.
In September of 2020, she moved to Doha and began her new role as SVP Cargo Commercial and Network Planning for Qatar Airways Cargo.
She described air cargo as a “high-speed and competitive industry and yet one that is filled with warm welcoming people” with its main mission centred around people and delivering goods.
As one of few women in top executive position in the industry, de Bruijn is convinced aviation and air cargo are entering the coming of age phase where results matter more than gender in the era of possibilities and innovation.
“I believe diversity will positively impact our industry and make it ready for the future. I think the airline industry is coming of age where it’s about results. Although I of course welcome more females to the air cargo industry, as it’s an exciting business, in the end it’s about execution, delivery and accountability,” shared de Bruijn.
“My advice to other women is that you do what you love and your work will shine through! Women must understand their responsibility and worth in Cargo. I consider myself to be very passionate about what I do and the people I work with. For me, that’s very important; you need to have that drive to succeed and really care about the outcome to stay focused and to push yourself to excel, whether you are a male or female in this industry,” she added.
Finding balance between her work and life, this busy SVP is delighted spending time at the gym while listening to Hip-Hop music, exploring different cuisines, sights and sounds in her new home, Doha, Qatar’s capital.
“You might not find me cooking every day, but I really love to experience different culinary styles and cuisines. I have been lucky to do this a lot when I’ve travelled and lived in different countries. To date, my favourite cuisine is Indian,” de Bruijn shared. “I try to balance my office life, which can mean hours behind a desk, by maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. I am an early bird so you will find me at the gym with some hip-hop music before work. I find that it helps to clear my mind before the day really gets going.”
“I’m relatively new to Doha, so I’m still in that exploring phase which I love whenever I reach a new location. I’ve embraced the Middle Eastern culture since living in the region from 2016, so if it isn’t trying a new restaurant or café in the city, I will likely be shopping for Oud, nuts and spices or maybe jewellery at the old Souk (traditional Arabic market), this is also a way for me to unwind,” she added.
And amid the lingering pandemic, de Bruijn and the rest in the industry remain committed to their mission—moving air cargo and vital supplies around the world.
“Cargo is often overlooked. Somehow, we are still on the sideline whilst the passenger airlines are in the limelight, but if 2020 has shown anything it is how dynamic, flexible and exciting our industry is. It has firmly cast the spotlight on air cargo and how vital it is to ensure global trade continuity,” she said.