SBE alumna and IATA intern Caroline Larisch finds her passion in air cargo

The  FACE-UP! competition gives graduate students in the fields of SCM, Air Cargo, Logistics and Transport Management from around the world the chance to become a FACE UP finalist. The competition involves presenting their thesis at the World Cargo Symposium (WCS), which was held this year in Texas. For the most recent competition, held in March, three students from Dutch universities were chosen as finalists—two of them from SBE. We talked with finalist Caroline Larisch, who studied MSc Global Supply Chain Management and Change at the Venlo Campus of SBE, about her impressions.

While doing her masters in Global Supply Chain Management and Change at SBE’s Venlo campus, Caroline Larisch didn’t learn much about Air Cargo, but out of curiosity for the industry, she applied for the cargo internship at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association for the world’s airlines. IATA represents some 280 airlines or 83% of total air traffic, and supports many areas of aviation activity and helps formulate industry policy on critical aviation issues. As IATA’s cargo intern, Larisch has over the last year found her passion in the aviation cargo industry.

“After completing my masters, I wanted to immediately enter the labour market, but I also wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do, where I wanted to commit myself,” Larisch says. “I wanted to learn more about aviation, the air cargo industry specifically. Working for an international organisation has been always a dream, so I thought it would be great to combine both. Working with IATA has been perfect.”

It’s an industry that is growing and changing, making it an exciting time to join it. “Everyone is somehow impacted by air cargo,” Larisch says. “It is used to ship valuables and perishables including laptops, fashion, flowers, food and pharmaceuticals. The air cargo sector is very complex and there are many different partners, which creates a challenging environment when it comes to transformation and change management.”

FACE-UP finalists Danny Jonker, Caroline Larisch and Femke

FACE-UP finalists Danny Jonker, Caroline Larisch and Femke

As cargo intern, Larisch is tasked with supporting and managing various projects, “I’m supporting mainly all project teams within the Cargo team (30 people) at IATA such as Dangerous Goods, Special Cargo and Operations, and the Products team with Cargo products ,” she says. “For instance, I have been working on industry manual updates , researching content for industry white papers and performing gap analysis. Further, I have been supporting and assisting at IATA conferences and workshops.”

Although she says she never excluded air cargo as a career, her main interest during her studies were change-related subjects such as sustainability in SCM. “My thesis was about the fast fashion industry and sustainability within it,” she says. “The thesis has no direct link to air cargo. However, the fast fashion industry relies strongly on the air cargo industry as a transport mode. This is where the link to air cargo can be made.”

Her thesis was, however, impressive enough to earn Larisch a spot as a finalist for the FACE-UP! Competition in Dallas. The cargo career competition, launched this year by IATA, is aimed at recent university graduates. “The competition is part of an industry programme called FACES (future air cargo executives),” Larisch explains. “It’s targeted at young SCM and logistics professionals to get them interested in air cargo.”

Applicants submitted their thesis along with a video presenting themselves, their research, and how they would contribute to the air cargo industry. “It was really an honor to be chosen,” Larisch says. “The thesis had to be a supply chain management topic or air cargo related or logistics. Not necessarily air cargo but anything that is somehow related to the field. There was an external jury of air cargo industry representatives and they chose three finalists.”

Coincidently, the three finalists all represent Dutch universities—two of whom are SBE alumni. Danny Jonker was another finalist who also studied MSc Global Supply Chain Management and Change at the Venlo Campus of SBE.

After her internship, Larisch hopes to stay in the cargo industry. “I would love to stay in aviation,” she says. “Specifically, in air cargo. There’s a lot of transformation going on, I think it’s the best time to be here right now, especially as a woman. This industry needs young professionals and also women. It’s quite male-dominated.”

The internship has already provided invaluable experience. “I had the chance to attend air cargo specific training, learned about the issues and topics the industry is dealing with and had great opportunities to network with industry professionals in aviation. However, there are still many things I’m learning and figuring out here,” she says. “I hope that I will be able to find a job in the industry—to start and develop my career in air cargo.”

Caroline Larisch graduated BSc International Business with a major in Supply Change Management (2015) and MSc Global Supply Chain Management and Change (2017) at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics Venlo Campus. She is a Cargo Intern at International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Geneva Switzerland.


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