AVIATION INTERVIEW WITH KENNETH CHAN
Operations Director, Cainiao KLIA Aeropolis Sdn Bhd
A strong believer that the customer always comes first, the personable Kenneth Chan of the joint-venture project, Cainiao Aeropolis eWTP Hub, between Malaysia Airports and Alibaba Group makes it a point to attend the customer’s needs and rendering the best service or solution possible. Having learnt well from his mentors during his interesting career path that spans over 15 years, the 42-year-old counts it a blessing that he can always count on them whenever he needs their advice or to bounce off ideas.
How has your experience in the aviation industry handling guest services, cargo and line operations, business development and ground handling equip you for your current position?
I am very fortunate to be able to draw from my previous experiences to enable me to perform my present tasks and responsibilities effectively. The multiple-faceted aviation industry has been very educational and rewarding. Given the opportunities to work in various countries, I learnt from different people and cultures.
You have been with the company since July 2019. What were the challenges faced in getting this new hub, formerly known as KLIA Aeropolis DFTZ Park, started?
To craft a niche for Cainiao Aeropolis eWTP Hub, we had to be certain it would complement the existing logistics industry and bring about value-added benefits to the stakeholders besides promoting the KL International Airport’s (KLIA) growth as a regional air freight and logistics hub. Once we nailed down the key objectives of our hub’s presence, we strategised and developed plans to maximise our capabilities in the market.
Thereafter, we ensure that we spend time with customers to explain the hub’s capabilities and how it would best serve their business needs.
What is it like working with the Alibaba Group, one of the world’s largest e-commerce players?
Thrilling, exciting and challenging. Being the ‘first-mover’ means we do not have any templates to follow. To realise the multiple programmes and projects planned for Cainiao Aeropolis eWTP Hub, I receive support within the Alibaba Group ecosystem as well as from my peers, senior leadership team members and not forgetting Malaysia Airports, which has been instrumental in making this project a reality from pre-planning to construction and past the operations stage.
With its recent commencement, what can we expect from this new e-fulfilment hub, the first outside of China, in the coming months?
Traditionally, air freight in KLIA serves the business-to-business (B2B) distribution channel. With Cainiao Aeropolis eWTP Hub’s advent, we are excited for the growth and development of the business-to-consumer (B2C) and B2B2C distribution channels. The hub also seeks to complement existing supply chain by expanding multiple distribution channels for e-commerce and other businesses. Apart from importers building a gateway into Malaysia through this hub, Malaysian companies, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will have a channel to market their products directly to China and other international markets. This trade flow is not limited only to Malaysia, it can also be adopted by businesses in Southeast Asia as their regional transhipment hub and be connected with any of the local Alibaba logistics centres.
Operated by Alibaba’s logistics unit, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network (Cainiao), the new hub will elevate the KLIA’s air cargo network as a leading distribution gateway for ASEAN. How does it hope to achieve this?
Cainiao works alongside domestic and international stakeholders to build a sustainable logistics ecosystem. By being the region’s epicentre for logistics network, Cainiao Aeropolis eWTP Hub aims to promote the “One Inventory, Multichannel Distribution” model not just for large corporations but also for SMEs in the region. As we transit into Logistics 4.0 and adopt cutting-edge technologies, we will strive to find new ways to improve efficiency, and to bring greater benefits and positive experiences for stakeholders within the industry.
What is your vision for Cainiao Aeropolis eWTP Hub beyond 2022?
We aspire to build a sustainable logistics ecosystem benefitting all stakeholders in the logistics value chain. Only then can we encourage and nurture the growth of international trade. Our hub will connect with other eHubs in Liège, Hong Kong, Dubai, Moscow and Hangzhou as well as other Alibaba or Cainiao fulfillment centres worldwide to provide a seamless and efficient logistics solution for all types of business. It will not only be a logistics centre but also a central location in KLIA to conduct business meetings, conferences and seminars. It will also serve as a knowledge and technology platform and training centre.
You had also started out as an aerospace and defence consultant in the early part of your career. How do you see the future of aerospace in Malaysia?
Malaysia’s upward trajectory in the aerospace industry will continue well into the next decade since plans to develop local businesses and talents have been put into place in the last decade. Several Malaysian aviation entrepreneurs have emerged as one of the world’s best in different categories of the aerospace industry. Prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Malaysia’s aerospace industry was expected to surpass revenue of more than RM55 billion annually and generate over 30,000 high income jobs. While the pandemic outbreak has caused much distress to many, I believe we can overcome this challenging period and emerge more resilient.
What are your interests in life and how do you maintain a work-life balance?
I treasure the times spent with my family, be it coaching my son in tennis or cooking for them. I am truly blessed to have a loving family and being a part of an extraordinary company that understands the sacrifices made by its employees to drive growth and success so much so that it always finds ways to include our family members in its programmes and activities as a token of appreciation.