MS. ROSE­MARIE P. RAFAEL

Chair­man and Pres­i­dent AIRSPEED

Manila Bulletin - - Business Profile - By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT

As tech­nolo­gies are go­ing to dic­tate most of the works now and in the fu­ture, the next big thing ris­ing is the lo­gis­tics in­dus­try. Lo­gis­tics will be the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor in the dig­i­tal age.

Al­ready, sev­eral lo­gis­tics ven­tures are one of the fastest grow­ing in the Philip­pines. Even the tech­nol­ogy-en­abled star­tups are catch­ing up. Not to be out­done is Filipino-owned Airspeed, one of the fastest grow­ing lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies in the coun­try.

Airspeed Chair­man and Pres­i­dent Rose­marie P. Rafael, who is per­haps the only lady pioneer in the lo­cal lo­gis­tics in­dus­try, is mak­ing a name for herself and her com­pany.

The com­pany

Airspeed is an end-to- end lo­gis­tics so­lu­tions and ex­press courier com­pany that has been in the in­dus­try for over 30 years. It of­fers multi-modal so­lu­tions that com­bined air and sea freight, and land trans­porta­tion.

Just like most suc­cess stories, Rafael did not dream to be in the lo­gis­tics busi­ness. But her work ex­pe­ri­ences have carved a path this way.

“I stud­ied AB In­ter­na­tional stud­ies at Mary­knoll Col­lege. I pur­sued this course be­cause I dreamed to be­come a diplo­mat, plus the course had no ac­count­ing or num­ber-fo­cused ma­jor sub­jects,” says Rafael.

But af­ter col­lege, she ended up work­ing in an air­line com­pany as a pas­sen­ger tick­et­ing and reser­va­tions agent be­fore she was trans­ferred to sales. Then she was re­cruited to work for the #1 freight for­ward­ing com­pany. She em­braced and loved the new work.

“I felt and I still highly feel that I am in the midst of busi­ness realm as I get to be ex­posed to all types of in­dus­tries, and be part of the so­lu­tion to the lo­gis­tics prob­lems of our customers,” says Rafael.

This led Rafael to set up Airspeed. Now, Airspeed is one of the fastest grow­ing lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies in the coun­try.

MAK­ING IT HAP­PEN

The com­pany en­sures that they work to make the goals of customers hap­pen the way they planned it to be. To do this, Rafael said Airspeed em­ploys the right peo­ple, man­ages an up­dated sys­tem, and up­holds val­ues to ful­fill all of its clients’ lo­gis­tics needs.

“We help our clients grow their busi­nesses. We cus­tom­ize our ser­vices based on their lo­gis­tics re­quire­ments be­cause in Airspeed, we make it hap­pen,” says Rafael.

Airspeed builds a highly scal­able busi­ness op­er­a­tions for both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional dis­tri­bu­tion net­work.

It is proud of its ex­ten­sive net­work and hubs. It has ex­panded in ar­eas to reach wher­ever and when­ever its customers need assistance. With over 200 owned and rented mo­tor­cy­cles and trucks, clients are served as promptly as pos­si­ble. All ser­vices are ably sup­ported by more than 500 highly trained per­son­nel.

For its freight so­lu­tions man­age­ment, Airspeed of­fers a wide range of trans­port op­tions for boxes, car­goes, com­mod­ity goods, shipload, etc. which are highly treated with ut­most care and cau­tion.

“We spe­cial­ize in mov­ing freight through var­i­ous strong and es­tab­lished part­ners — via AIR, SEA or LAND. Its air freight for­ward­ing of­fers world­wide ex­port and im­port reg­u­lar con­sol­i­da­tions, gen­eral car­goes, and, han­dling for spe­cial pro­jects, equip­ment, per­ish­able goods and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

For sea freight for­ward­ing, Airspeed also of­fers ex­port and im­port full con­tainer load, loose con­tainer load, pro­ject con­sol­i­da­tions and pro­ject cargo han­dling. And for do­mes­tic for­ward­ing, it of­fers

Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo) cargo han­dling, and door-to-door de­liv­ery.

Airspeed also pro­vides cus­tom­ized so­lu­tions for crit­i­cal pack­ages and ship­ment, en­sur­ing they reach their desti­na­tion with­out an is­sue. It can tai­lor fit ser­vices based on cus­tomer’s lo­gis­tics needs, com­bin­ing so­lu­tions that ad­here to one’s bud­get and time­line. Airspeed also of­fers end-to-end ful­fill­ment so­lu­tions that will surely help busi­ness reach its tar­get.

Rafael also in­vests where her mouth us. She in­vested in the best fa­cil­i­ties and tech­nolo­gies to en­sure that Airspeed’s cargo is handled and mon­i­tored ef­fi­ciently. Its ware­houses are equipped with CCTV cam­eras and alarm sys­tems to en­sure safe stor­age. It pro­vides na­tion­wide dis­tri­bu­tion, door-to-door de­liv­ery, and in­ter-is­land de­liv­ery ser­vices.

GOAL

The long-term goal of Airspeed is to be­come the pre­ferred lo­gis­tics com­pany in the coun­try. Par­al­lel to this, Rafael in­stills val­ues and cul­ture the com­pany be­lieves in not just to their em­ploy­ees but also to customers, as well. Mean­time, Airspeed strength­ens its busi­ness.

“To build a great com­pany, we need to build a great cul­ture. Cul­ture is the #1 met­ric; it is the com­pany’s DNA and iden­tity. It becomes the tool to cre­at­ing momentum, mak­ing im­pact, and at­tract­ing the best peo­ple,” says Rafael, mar­ried to a lov­ing hus­band and a mother to 4 chil­dren.

Airspeed also be­lieves in stay­ing nim­ble to be able to adapt and be flex­i­ble to changes.

“As you know, lo­gis­tics is chang­ing rapidly. We al­ways try to see what the mar­ket needs, and that’s where we cre­ate lo­gis­tics so­lu­tions,” he adds.

At present, the big­gest chal­lenge for Airspeed is to move as fast as pos­si­ble to ad­dress the ever-chang­ing lo­gis­tics cli­mate. Airspeed though has been able to ad­dress these chal­lenges by feel­ing and know­ing the pulse of the mar­ket and those that they serve.

“Airspeed al­ways comes up with new ideas and we do our best to in­no­vate. We still do the same things that are needed in the mar­ket, the usual lo­gis­tics needs, but we are do­ing it dif­fer­ently based on the clients’ unique needs. I be­lieve this is the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion that we have,” says Rafael.

“Just like in any com­pany, we need to al­ways im­prove on our pro­cesses, cre­ate ini­tia­tives to ad­dress peo­ple re­ten­tion, re­cruit­ment of the best tal­ents, and, main­tain good financial man­age­ment.”

VAL­UES

Ac­cord­ing to Rafael, Airspeed lives by its four core val­ues un­der the acro­nym L-I-V-E-S -- loyalty, in­tegrity, value of honor and bal­ance, ex­cel­lence, and stew­ard­ship.

“Any de­ci­sion that we make will have to be guided by these val­ues,” says Rafael.

These val­ues have guided Airspeed in meet­ing chal­lenges amid the ris­ing num­ber of lo­gis­tics providers in the coun­try. Rafael said they al­ways know that com­pe­ti­tion is tough, and such un­der­stand­ing has made them pre­pared for the tough fight ahead.

“It is al­ways ex­pected to be tough, but we only have to know the whys be­hind what we do. And that gives us the en­cour­age­ment and the mo­ti­va­tion to con­tinue to do what we know best,” says Rafael.

EM­POW­ER­MENT

As a woman and per­haps the only lady leader when this in­dus­try started, Rafael ad­mit­ted that it was dif­fi­cult at the start.

“But I had to work dou­ble time to prove my­self,” says Rafael, who be­came the first woman pres­i­dent of the Air Cargo For­warders As­so­ci­a­tion. But being a woman is also an ad­van­tage be­cause women are nat­u­rally nur­tur­ing.

“When peo­ple are nur­tured, they do great and im­pos­si­ble things. Car­ing is like an ‘inspiring man­ner’ that could get things done. I am happy that I am blessed with a sup­port­ive team. When we meet to come up with im­por­tant de­ci­sions and we some­times have to ar­gue, at the end of it all we still sup­port what­ever de­ci­sion has been made. No­body can ques­tion that. There is a cul­ture of re­spect and un­der­stand­ing among women,” says Rafael.

As a leader, Rafael loves to em­power peo­ple stress­ing that, “Em­pow­er­ment is the process of in­creas­ing the ca­pac­ity of the peo­ple I lead so they can make good choices. And these choices should be trans­formed into a de­sired ac­tion. I also be­lieve that the great­est com­pet­i­tive edge that I have as a leader is being able to care deeply about my team.”

This has trans­lated to the com­pany’s suc­cess. In fact, Rafael con­sid­ers her peo­ple as Airspeed’s big­gest suc­cess so far.

“The big­gest suc­cess that I have made so far is still hav­ing the same peo­ple who more or less started with me in this com­pany to this very date. Their suc­cess is my suc­cess. As a dis­rup­tive leader, it is im­por­tant to mo­bi­lize and re­cruit good tal­ent,” she adds.

LESSONS

Lead­ing Airspeed for the past 33 years is a big source of lessons for Rafael, too.

First, she learned that in lead­ing a busi­ness, “We need to con­tin­u­ously ask our­selves if we are do­ing the right things.”

She learned when to elim­i­nate, re­duce, raise its fo­cus on cer­tain ar­eas, or if there is a need to es­tab­lish new ones. “It is easy to get dis­tracted if we are not clear on what we need to fo­cus on,” she says.

Sec­ond, she has learned to keep things sim­ple in their op­er­a­tions and in their pro­cesses to move things faster.

Third, it is hon­or­able to ask for help from the ex­perts. “It is okay to con­sult and ask peo­ple who are good in a par­tic­u­lar area which you are not good at. Al­ways look for men­tors,” she sug­gests to young en­trepreneur­s.

In fact, Rafael main­tains two to three busi­ness lead­ers whom she con­sid­ers her busi­ness men­tors.

“I pur­sue them and lis­ten to them. I make it a point to meet with them to lis­ten about their busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ences. This gives me the en­cour­age­ment and the drive to do bet­ter than what I used to be. I try to stretch my­self be­yond the im­pos­si­ble,” says Rafael.

She has a learning cul­ture, as she reads a lot.

As a hands-on man­ager, Rafael sees to it that she pri­or­i­tizes what mat­ters most dur­ing the sea­sonal lo­gis­tics op­er­a­tions. “I plan and pace my­self, and I make sure that what­ever I do con­trib­utes to what I want to achieve,” says Rafael, who goes to of­fice reg­u­larly to meet with her team. She also makes it a point to per­son­ally meet with clients, sup­pli­ers, part­ners and other in­dus­try stake­hold­ers.

But she also knows when to take a break. She trav­els with fam­ily and learns from dif­fer­ent coun­tries’ peo­ple and cul­ture. While she spends qual­ity time with her kids and hus­band, this vo­ra­cious reader also trea­sures her own time to read books.

Over­time, Rafael would like Airspeed to be the pre­ferred lo­gis­tics provider in the coun­try, highly re­spected by its peers and clients and a brand that is syn­ony­mous with re­li­a­bil­ity and in­tegrity. With that, Airspeed will be cat­a­pulted as an em­ployer of choice.

As to her peo­ple, Rafael has this to say, “I want my team to take into heart that our com­pany gets to be known for the kind of peo­ple we keep. If we have ‘peo­ple of in­tegrity’ then our com­pany is a ‘com­pany of in­tegrity’, and that ex­cel­lence is not an act but a habit. We have to go af­ter what mat­ters most, and that is being able to add value to our customers’ busi­nesses. We are here to build the busi­ness, build their com­mu­ni­ties, and build lives.”

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