People of SAS: Camilla Gram
When passengers step on board an aircraft, rarely do they consider the tons of precious cargo under their feet. On any given SAS long-haul flight, there’s up to 20 tons of cargo, much of it time-sensitive, high-value items. That could mean life-saving medicines, food, even live animals.
This is Camilla Gram’s world. Gram is Head of Sales for the Scandinavian region at SAS Cargo. If you thought working in cargo might be a boring job, think again. Despite going unnoticed by most, it’s a critical piece of the global logistics puzzle that many companies rely on.
“Air freight is crucial for international trade. It represents less than 1% of world trade by volume, but it’s actually 35% by value,” Gram says.
“We ship everything from pharma-ceuticals, such as vaccines, tablets and insulin, to spare parts for ships or cars. We ship a lot of perishables. So when you eat fresh sushi tonight, we might have shipped the fish. Or if you go out and buy flowers – they might have been onboard one of our flights.”
Working from her home base near Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport, Gram is responsible for developing customer relationships in Scandinavia as well as leading SAS Cargo toward its goals for the future. SAS Cargo is a relatively small organization of just 160 people around the world – something Gram describes as a strength.
“It allows us to be more agile,” she explains. “Our decision-making processes are shorter and that allows us to be quick to adapt. We strive to be very good at what we do and we’re determined to always think of ways to improve how we work.”
SAS Cargo has benefited from a number of young people
It’s also an important factor in making SAS Cargo a great place to work, she continues. “It’s fantastic, because you know who everyone is and you have some kind of relation to each of them. Our culture is characterized by an informal tone and a good sense of humor.”
Gram points out that SAS Cargo has benefited from a number of young people joining the organization in recent years. “We’ve had this generation shift and I think that makes for a really dynamic -organization, with a healthy and solid foundation.”
That’s important, she explains, because air freight has, for so long, been a conservative, slow-to-change industry. These days that’s not good enough. Digitalization is constantly advancing and creating new potential efficiencies and at the same time customer demands and expectations are changing. It’s ripe for disruption.
“Digitalization opens up a world of opportunity,” Gram says. “And we’re constantly focusing on innovation and new digital solutions.”
For example, SAS Cargo now sees 90% of its business in Scandinavia come through the online booking platform that was launched five years ago. But that’s just the start. Last year, they also opened the Innovation Laboratory (I-Lab), a small group dedicated to harnessing new technology and pushing the operation forward. “Their primary task is exploring opportunities for innovation,” Gram says.
Another key point is sustainability
“Being part of SAS means the environment is really high on the agenda,” Gram says. “And we have our own initiatives in that regard at Cargo.”
She points to the weight reduction of loading materials as a vital part of this.
“By using lightweight containers and weight-saving material for building the structure around cargo shipments, we’ve significantly reduced the weight. The new containers and structures are up to 85% lighter than traditional ones, which, of course, means you can reduce the fuel that goes into the airplane.”
So what’s next on the journey for SAS Cargo in a changing world?
“We have certain areas we believe are key to success going forward,” Gram says. “Mobility, of course. And transparency, through the entire value chain. Shipping cargo involves a lot of people, it’s a big value chain and it’s complex. Convenience is key – it needs to be hassle-free for the customer. Personalization too, making sure the products and services we offer are customized to meet the specific needs and preferences of each customer.”
Even though Camilla Gram says it usually only takes a moment to explain what she does to people outside the industry, conversations end up being enlightening. “Whenever I say I work at SAS Cargo, people tend to look surprised. It’s kind of a new world to them,” she says.
“Then, they always want to know, ‘What do you ship?’ Last year I had a great answer. ‘Well you heard about the pandas coming to Copenhagen Zoo from China? They flew with SAS Cargo.’”
Published: March 16, 2020