If one has to understand what 'on the go' means, one only needs to meet Monique Geisler, Vice President and Co-founder of Alexander Global Logistics (AGL), a founding member of New Silk Road Network. One can always expect Ms. Geisler at her office, chipping away at the day's work, guiding her workforce through the day's challenges and sometimes catching a quick pensive moment on the office terrace.
Together with co-founder and CEO Mr. Carsten Hellmers, Ms. Geisler has led Alexander Global Logistics successfully through the 15 years since its establishment. In these years, she has gained the adulation and respect of her employees, who rely on her wisdom in times of need. In our conversation with her, Ms.Geisler demonstrated the importance of fighting stagnation by continually developing new ideas, the wide range of services that AGL offers to their customers, and widening global horizons. Finally, Ms. Geisler shares some valuable words of wisdom for young women and men in the logistics industry.
In conversation with Monique…
NSRN: Alexander Global Logistics was founded 15 years ago, which is a significant accomplishment. What is the origin story?
Monique: I think that the motivation to take the final step into self-employment is very relatable to many company founders out there. Carsten Hellmers and I were aware of our abilities. We wanted to implement them and create something new and successful. 2006 was the perfect year for us to change this from being a mere goal into reality.
As the last 15 years have shown, AGL's journey has transformed into a success story.
NSRN: AGL has carved a niche for itself in the pulp and paper logistics industry. What are the various aspects of this field logistics? And how has the company diversified its business in these years?
Monique: Carsten and I have always been close to the Pulp and Paper Industry, even before AGL was founded. The gathered cumulative experience over the years helps us offer various services such as supply chain management in the import department of pulp and paper and just-in-time deliveries. It also gives us an advantage in terms of our proximity to customers and our service orientation. In our opinion, this is precisely where we at AGL differ from other companies that also want to "specialise" in these areas.
The current global situation has indeed shown many companies how significant it is to change and be flexible. AGL's motivation has always been to continuously develop ourselves and never stagnate. Areas of "digitalisation" and "modernisation" are a constant for us since it helps us guarantee that development and growth will not halt.
After we successfully established export container logistics, between 2007-2008, we realised that it is essential to not rely on just one niche. In 2009, we launched another mainstay for us, ' Project Logistics', with which our company could be positioned more broadly. This endeavour has been greatly successful. In addition, we founded our own air freight department in 2019.
All these decisions have helped us tackle challenges heads-on. Today we are proud to say that we have created a perfect company within our ideals. With a team of 60 employees and various foreign branches, we are genuinely proud of our achievements. As we all know, a company can only be successful if it has a suitably strong team behind it.
NSRN: What has your journey been in the field of logistics? Is it correct to assume that logistics is a male-dominated field? If so, what steps can be undertaken to make this field more inclusive? What would you like to advice younger women interested in this field, and starting their careers?
Monique: In Europe, waves of change had already emerged in the 1970s-80s. These changes were not limited to logistics, but similar pictures arose in all professional fields. Today I am proud that women hold powerful positions and can be found in top management jobs in many areas, including logistics. I think I might be an excellent example of this.
As the mother of an incredible young lady, I am very interested in young women being able to gain a foothold in all possible areas of the world of work for personal reasons. However, in my opinion, this should not be a question of gender. Is a “quota of women” in management positions really the ground changing solution or are there other ways? I would give every young woman the same advice as I would give to young men: fight for your dreams and always have a goal in mind!
NSRN: As founding member of the New Silk Road Network, what are your expectations when it comes to developing a stronger East-West movement of cargo?
Monique: The NSRN product, that is, rail freight, is a good alternative between air and sea freight and can therefore cover fast delivery requirements. Especially in the current situation, with limited cargo space in sea traffic, long transit times and very high rates, the route via the silk road is a good sales opportunity for our customers.
At the same time, it would be desirable if the southern route became more attractive. We are quite confident in the product and the possibilities it provides. We are convinced that NSRN will establish itself very successfully on the market.
NSRN: What are the prospects of AGL and what would you describe as the vision for your company?
Monique: We at AGL would like to further consolidate our market position, which we currently enjoy in Europe. With further branches and/or representative offices, we would like to establish a market position outside Europe and widen our global reach.
NSRN: The whole logistics industry has felt the impact of carrier rates hiking up and limited equipment availability. How has this impacted the business at AGL? How to you expect the situation to unfold this year?
Monique: To be honest, we are surprised by the recurring nature of this global situation. Logistics companies (among others) already felt the effects of this in 2009 during the financial crisis. As mentioned, at AGL are constantly on our way "forward" and are not afraid to invest in our company even in times of crisis. Although it is often quoted, I would like to reflect on the statement: " Stagnation is regression:". I think it evidently describes our approach during challenging times.