This edition of A Cup of Coffee With…, our ongoing series of talks with Aerodoc’s executives about their work, shakes things up – this time, two executives sat with COO Dan Zonnenschein to answer his questions.
EVP of OPS & Customer Service Estefanía Sisatzky Estefanía Sisatzky and SVP Finance Micaela Compiano discussed their roles in the company, the biggest changes taking place in the industry, and key aspects that allowed Aerodoc to become a benchmark of international logistics in its 25-year plus history.
Dan Zonnenschein: Let’s start with Estefanía. You have been working at Aerodoc for more than ten years. During that period, technology and digitization have disrupted everything. What’s the biggest transformation from an operational perspective?
Estefanía Sisatzky: The biggest changes I have seen in recent years revolve around the adoption and democratization of technology. In the past, automated, standardized processes and digitized operations were something only world-class companies with large structures could aspire to; SMEs were stuck with manual processes.
In the past ten years, technology became widespread for all our suppliers and customers. Aerodoc also joined this trend. Thanks to that, we can now reach new levels of efficiency and customer service experience; new technologies and the information that is now available draw customers closer to international logistics.
DZ: What challenges did this mean for Aerodoc?
ES: Fortunately, Aerodoc has always had a strong pro-tech approach, like the industry we are part of. Our customers are all tech-savvy, so adopting technology did not represent a major challenge as we are constantly looking for tools to help us improve.
Currently, we’re working on integrations with our customers, which has required large technological developments, things like API languages, and live data for our customers. It also forced us to do a deep review of our processes, since suddenly our customers became much closer to us, which was wonderful. All this makes our operations more efficient.
DZ: Let me use that to ask Micaela: How do you structure a company with operations and customers in more than 170 countries?
Micaela Compiano: Well, to do that, Finance has to be closely involved and informed about the business’ evolution, both from a customer perspective – i.e., which geographies their projects will migrate to – and Aerodoc’s business perspective – i.e., what the company is targeting with its business goals. Based on that, we define a strategy for those countries of destination. We covered some of them with an agent network, while for others, we took the strategic decision of creating our legal entities. I play a lead role in that, as the head of Administration and Finance, since we need to analyze operational costs and the general direction of the business, and then check if that is strategically feasible.
DZ: From your roles, how do you add value to Aerodoc’s relationship with its customers?
ES: Regarding customers, I see myself as a ‘translator;’ my background and my professional experience allow me to take on a role where I am able to understand our customers’ business-related processes. I can also see the constraints and challenge areas in those projects. On the other hand, my personal and professional journey took place in Europe, the US, and Latin America, so I can translate for our customers the challenges of developing regions and markets.
MC: There are three basic success indicators for logistics management, and one of them is invoicing, which is my area of expertise. During the customer onboarding process, I check their invoicing needs, like customer registration, agreed payment dates, and what they require for invoices to flow correctly throughout the processes. I am also responsible for making our customized logistics solutions and services feasible from a financial and administrative perspective. The IOR model has an important financial component in the country of destination and in how you set up a business in the countries where we have our legal entities, so Estefanía and I work closely together to make those operational lines flow seamlessly.
DZ: Aerodoc has been in the industry for more than 25 years, handling regulations, procedures, taxes, and tariffs in dozens of countries. Can you tell me some of the most frequent questions and concerns from customers about that?
MC: As I said before, Aerodoc has its own legal entities in many of the more than 170 countries where it operates. This allows us to constantly monitor and stay up-to-date on customs and exchange regulations. Many of our customers rely on us for buy-sell operations, both in countries where we have a legal entity and others. We check the restrictions to access foreign currency and international wire transfers. To do that, the Finance team has to be aware of everything that is going on with accounting and FX regulations.
DZ: What are the challenges of dealing with such strict levels of compliance?
ES: As an American-based company, we have lots of responsibilities regarding exports taking place in the US. To deal with that, Aerodoc has enhanced its management of customer requirements, updates, and applicable legislation, so we can make sure operations are aligned with both the strict standards enforced by the country of origin (mostly the USA) and the strict levels of compliance required by our customers.
We specialize in a commodity that falls into a set of tariff items, which we work in detail, dealing with requirements, licenses, tariff regimes, restrictions, and protectionist policies in each country. This is International Operations’ job; this department keeps in touch with each geography to stay up-to-date about changes and inform our customers while measuring potential impacts for their routes and businesses.
DZ: Besides red tape, you have human capital and operational management. What is it like to manage teams in multiple locations? What’s the biggest challenge in that, and how does Aerodoc address it?
ES: Geographic dispersion is very challenging, but one of the great things about this job is that working with multiple locations gives you a lot of multicultural exposition. What we learn from it goes far beyond logistics and national import/export processes – we also learn on various business-related macroeconomic and cultural levels. It’s one of the ways my job allows me to keep growing and learning.
In Aerodoc, we have built a highly efficient team, filled with young talent who are deeply committed to our customers’ business and knowledge management. It’s a working team that is hungry for knowledge and wants to understand every single detail of every project they get their hands on.
DZ: What’s the key to a successful IOR?
MC: The key to a successful IOR, naturally, is a successful route design from an operations/customs perspective. The relationship we build with our partners around the world is just as important – we need to be able to understand their local structures and assess if they are healthy, so we can have a long-term view with our partner or own legal entity.