Issue - July/August 2022


Moving Has Always Required Innovation—Continuing the Tradition

Ibrahim Khan, Director Operations, Servico Freight Services

Like most facets of daily life, the orthodox approach and procedure of work shifted during the pandemic. While many things have returned to normal, the fat lady is yet to sing for many sectors which are still in flux. One such sector is the deep blue sea of an industry we occupy a droplet of: the logistics/supply chain industry as a whole has been turned upside down and there is still no conclusive answer on how long this ‘new normal’ will last. To paraphrase a wise man, “just when we thought we were out, they pull us back in.”

The moving industry has faced various challenges directly related to the global pandemic and the snowballing supply chain disruptions it caused. From travel bans to port congestions, those looking to relocate have had to postpone or even cancel their plans. For moving companies, this has translated to a bottleneck in the best-case scenarios, and dry spells in sales as the worst. Despite the gloom and doom, companies facing existential challenges are not unheard of. Entire industries have had to reform due to new market dynamics or exogenous factors. While the dynamics within our industry might be shifting, there will always be people moving to new locations and on the lookout for professionals to solve their headaches.

In a time when traditionally sourced leads were not as successful in turning into confirmed customers, I wanted to innovate our practices to go to the customer directly instead of waiting for them to come to us. For this reason, our company established a digital marketing department that reaches out to audiences online through social media platforms. That is a very large set of people, so to focus our efforts we try to identify groups where people band together to discuss issues related to relocation and immigration; our target market.

Staying updated with industry trends is an important facet of our work. It is one reason why conferences and networking events are so important. I appreciated that IAM looked beyond them and picked up on the global trend of virtual learning. The IAM Learning initiative brought a sense of formal training to prepare or revise for operational and strategic tasks you face as a mobility professional. I completed the work to earn my Trusted Moving Specialist designation, a course that I feel will provide dividends not just for my own working experience but also as a guidebook to efficiently and reliably train employees going forward, in line with global practices.

Servico Freight Services, where I work, is a third-generation family-owned company. My grandfather founded it in 1953, six years after Pakistan was established as a sovereign nation, while he was finishing university. These days you call that a startup. He would take me to his own and others’ offices while I was a child and instilled a sense of worth in me through his appreciation. He has always been a beacon and the reason I wanted to be a part of the business. My father, who had the foresight to launch a freight forwarding division in his early years, is another in-house mentor. It might have been distracting to establish that division when the company already had its hands full back then, but it was this branch that helped us navigate rough waters during the pandemic.

Many of my coworkers and employees have been around since I was a child. I know some of their siblings and children. This tight-knit culture has emphasized to me the importance of looking after company employees, investing in them and compensating them the way you would want to if in their position. Globally, many economies are having to tighten their belts and as business owners it is our responsibility to ensure we are there for them even more than during stable times. I believe compassion and empathy is an integral characteristic of leadership. One aspect to improve on would be the deficit of women in our male-dominated industry. As part of our hiring policy, we attempt to form a more balanced workforce.

My leadership journey has just started, but what a start it has been. Many veterans had not seen the uncharted waters that my contemporaries have been thrown into. I am certain as we weed through the ‘new normal’ our practices will evolve and adapt to the cultural and technological changes of a new generation. Expect our entrepreneurial skills to sharpen as we navigate the interesting times we are living in.