Our Agent In… Shanghai

Regional Head of Cargo China Jenny He on her new role and the challenges and opportunities for the Chinese mainland

Tell me about your career, family, interests?

I’ve worked for Cathay Pacific since I graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai, where I majored in World Economics. So it surprised everyone – including my parents – when I chose Cathay Pacific as my first job rather than a bank or a financial institution. It has been a good decision.

When I started as a Customer Services Officer in Shanghai, I had never flown abroad and I hadn’t been to Hong Kong, which was an attractive destination for young mainland Chinese in the early 1990s.

Cathay Pacific has given me the opportunity not only to travel but to work across different functions – from reservation and ticketing, airport management to passenger sales and marketing. It’s an exciting job, in which you need to learn new skills, not least dealing with the unexpected. I started in my cargo role in June.

What do you like best about your role?

In my past roles I worked in Hong Kong for some months, and I spent two years in Beijing, but Shanghai is my favourite city. It is my hometown, where I grew up and studied, and where my family is. Starting out on my cargo role in Shanghai will ease me through the transition from the passenger side. Already I am appreciating that in the cargo business you speak directly to your customers, and that they are direct and forthcoming.

What are the big business areas/flows/cargos?

In terms of exports, the lanes from mainland China to North American are the number one, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the revenue contribution. Quite a lot of shipments are high-value consumer electronic products from big brands. However, with the recent escalation in tariffs, both we and global forwarders are keeping a close eye on demand forecasts. We are ready to be agile in our planning and respond quickly to any changes in the market.

What are the challenges and opportunities?

Aside from consumer electronics, the other big ticket product is e-commerce, which has developed so rapidly in this market. We think the cross border e-commerce market has real potential for us. Currently, the challenge is how to differentiate e-commerce from general cargo, to see what customer-centric solution we can provide to lock in e-commerce demand, and work out how to balance short-term returns with the long-term strategic potential.

How do you keep up with the needs of the local market?

We have appointed dedicated people to oversee potential segments in the local market, such as mail and e-commerce. In the near future, we will nominate local experts to be special cargo champions generating sales and service leads to support Cathay Pacific Cargo’s strategy. We are determined to keep and maintain our close connections with our forwarders and direct shippers.

What next?

We anticipate some challenges in 2019 with the factors that might impact on global trade. However, we are confident that our global network will offer us and our customers an advantage. Should there be a downturn on the US trade lanes, we would expect a boost on lanes to India and Southeast Asia, for example.

Meanwhile, we will also be working to deploy new tools and technology to improve our efficiency on distribution, plus next generation track and trace and paperless operations.