CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE

No one predicted that a pandemic would have the world reeling under its aftermath in the year 2020. COVID-19 was a black swan event like no other, sending ripples of disruptions across every business segment. It has altered the very business landscape that CSS operates in.  

However, it is highly heartening that the CSS family has acted intelligently and responsibly to ensure market continuity. We have once again proven our flexibility to overcome challenges and embrace new realities.

Growth in the Time of Crisis

While everyone around was tightening their belts by downsizing their operations, we decided to take this challenge as an opportunity. We extended our footprint by opening up a new branch within the Hamriyah Free zone to reach out to the untapped market in the northern emirates of the UAE. With 500,000 sq. feet of storage facility across the UAE, CSS can proudly say that we are among the top service providers in the warehousing industry. Further cementing our market position, we officially signed contracts with various big names in the transport, hospitality, Oil & Gas industry & Fabricators as direct vendors ensuring business continuity for the next three years.

2021 – The Year of Great Change

In 2021, CSS has decided to put in place changes in strategy. The Group has restructured its core businesses by hiving them into separate entities headed by able leaders. Our offices are the support pillars that will help develop the region’s key customer base and increase our market reach. We are geared to bring forth new offerings and solutions, building stronger bonds with our existing client base and fortifying our network partner relationships. 

Considering the challenges that we faced in the year 2020, tight capacity is likely to continue during the first half of 2021. However, e-commerce retail and the manufacturing industry will be one of the drivers for the business. The new market equations and business models with investment into digitization will help us stay on top of our game in the coming year. The opening up of the Israeli markets and the lifting up of Qatar’s trade sanctions are bound to bring in new business.

The exemplary CSS attitude where “I” really does not hold a stand; is what will continue to propel us towards reaching our vision to be a top logistics provider in this region and beyond.

Ending on a Note of Heartfelt Gratitude

I want to thank all our network partners for their continued backing. We also acknowledge the strong support of our customers, bankers, and business associates in 2020. We look forward to your strong support to help us to achieve a better 2021 and beyond. Lastly, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to each member of Team CSS. Your dedicated services and support during the pandemic helped us stay resilient.   

As John F. Kennedy said, when written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters—one represents danger, and one represents opportunity.

The pandemic has revealed a crisis can set the collective adrenaline flowing, allowing minds to focus on bringing forth new and improved solutions. So, Team CSS, let’s go on and make 2021 a 202WON!

CSS AND ALSTOM SIGN AGREEMENT FOR FREIGHT FORWARDING

Consolidated Shipping Services LLC (CSS) and Alstom Transport SA officially signed a 3-year contract appointing CSS as a direct registered vendor of Alstom Transport.

The contract draws out the general conditions under which CSS will perform the freight forwarding services. This agreement enhances the responsibility of CSS in providing a seamless end-to-end solution for Alstom. Along with our offices and our worldwide network partner, C.H. Robinson, we will provide unhindered and flawless logistics processes for Alstom as a single-window solution.

The agreement was signed in the presence of Chairman, T.S. Kaladharan, Sreenath Viswanathan, Vice President OPS & Projects, along with Don Raveendran, Manager Warehouse Operations from CSS and Radjah Zouaghi, Supply Chain Manager and Willard Fortus, Customs & Transport Leader from Alstom Transport.

CSS has been strategically aligned with Alstom since the year 2017. The partnership between Alstom and CSS started with the warehousing and logistics service provided for the 2020 Dubai Metro expansion project.

Alstom Transport is a global leader in the transportation sector. By leading the way to a greener and smarter mobility worldwide, Alstom develops and markets integrated systems that provide sustainable foundations for the future of transportation. Alstom offers a complete range of equipment and services, from high-speed trains, metros, trams, and e-buses to integrated systems, customized services, infrastructure, signaling, and digital mobility solutions.

Both parties are excited about this new partnership. Mr. T.S. Kaladharan spoke on this significant occasion by saying, CSS brings industry-leading logistics management services to the table to deliver Alstom’s next-gen transportation technology solutions. We are confident that Alstom will benefit from the deep skills that CSS possesses in freight forwarding, and this partnership will work out to be a powerful combination that is uniquely complementar.

FROM THE DIRECTOR’S DESK

cssAs we celebrate the silver jubilee of CSS in this edition of the Lighthouse, allow me to start by quoting the line from the famous Billy Ocean song, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Over the past 25 years, our organization has been on an incredible journey of growth. The year 2020 was indeed a surprise. The magnitude of the pandemic impacted the global economy and even our business. However, I take immense pride in how our organization weathered this storm.

This year, I saw the CSS family band together more than ever before. We worked even harder and stayed focused to reach our goals. Even as global businesses slowed down, we survived because of the dedication and commitment of my team. There are no words that can encapsulate my admiration and gratitude; for the sheer dedication and diligence on display during the last financial year. 

I say with pride that my team is my strength!

In this edition of the Lighthouse, we want to mark our thanks for our clients and business partners as well. We also place on record the singular support extended to us by the local authorities that kept our boat sailing. Now, the storm is past us, and we have learned valuable lessons from this adversity. Let us march ahead with confidence to attain fresh victories for CSS!

CHANDRAKALA HOLDS THE REINS OF THE NVOCC WING

cssMy CSS career began as I stepped into the hallowed portals of the CSS HQ in the year 2010. Since then, every year has brought in new challenges and opportunities, and I have seen myself do several mantles to reach where I am today. 

 As I handle the LCL Consolidation division along with my able teammates, we have come to realize this vertical is purely dependant on the mutual and strong cooperation with our partners and relentless local sales service. If the right synergy is not maintained, the consolidation will cease to thrive. 

A Season of Shifts & Changes

Over the past decade of my tenure with CSS, I have seen a dramatic shift in consolidation behaviors and patterns. Who would have guessed that a primarily prepaid market would turn into largely an import market? 

 We would have never predicted that congestions and void vessels would make customers consider LCL movements to ensure that their cargo reaches the destination. Today, the buyer has full control over building a successful import consolidation box. Today’s customers demand more direct services rather than having their shipment being re-handled at a transshipment hub.

With several factors to consider, from local and overseas compliances, LC requirements of our customers, carrier policies, customs policies, our checklists have become endless. We have often found ourselves stretching our limits by being creative, having to jump over the innumerable hurdles to avoid the business’s pitfalls. 

Having taken many calculated risks by introducing new strategies and out-of-the-box thinking, we have grown the consolidation business despite the many variables that came in our way. 

Our Outlook for the Future

Not for a moment should you consider that this is a message of negativity, instead, by understanding that our ever-evolving environments, we should work together as a team to follow the stratagem to success.  

With the Israeli market opening up with the landmark Abraham Accords’ signing between the UAE and Israel, we can predict a surge in trade ties between the two nations. The revival of trade ties with Lebanon also presents a positive outlook for the future. 

With plans in the anvil for UAE to become a manufacturing hub, we can naturally expect an increase in export consoles. As the GCC region’s nations thrive, it translates to the Jebel Ali Port’s growth, a win-win for all!

A free-market economy, the business culture of UAE enables ease of business, which in turn leads to the mushrooming of other players in the field who offer ludicrous prices to capture the market.  

The congestion might linger on for the first quarter of 2021, but it should ease from then on. We will continue to offer our clients flexible solutions that cater to their specific needs and requirements. 

Even though the “invisible enemy” wreaked havoc in 2020, we succeeded in achieving the same business volume as in 2019. In 2021, we hope to double the current volumes and service unique sectors. 

The 3-point strategy for the year ahead will be to:

  1. Sell smart
  2. Refine our customer service 
  3. Build up the network synergy

Nurturing a Culture of Positivity

At CSS, we practice an open-door policy. We encourage our colleagues to talk to each other. If the manager or team leader has caught the vision, the teammates are bound to follow suit. As a practice, we will not wait for our teammates to reach out to us, but we will communicate the vision to them to see it come to fulfillment. 

The inception of the CSS business was with consolidation. We have to strive hard to ensure that this division will continue to remain the very heart of CSS and drive growth for the company. To achieve this goal, CSS will move ahead by making path-breaking decisions out-of-the-ordinary and not always the norm. 

CSS OPERATIONS, PROJECTS, AND OIL & GAS VERTICALS RARING AHEAD WITH SREENATH AT THE HELM

cssPresently working as the Vice President for Operations & Projects, Oil & Gas, I joined CSS in 2002. Having been given the great opportunity to lay the foundations of the CSS Branch office in Bahrain, I later moved to the sales department at CSS Dubai. 

With opportunities galore for everyone, CSS has provided not just vertical growth but also a lateral growth experience. From sales to operations to supply chain management, transport, and Projects Oil & Gas, I have been allowed to handle various aspects of freight forwarding industry. That’s the secret of success behind the CSS growth story, and there is always an opportunity for all! It’s now been 18 years with CSS & 27 Years in the industry and I believe I am still as young and vibrant as the day I joined CSS. 

The Projects, Oil & Gas Vertical

The Projects, Oil & Gas vertical is at the heart of logistics for turnkey projects. The division specializes in handling long-term contracts and heavy lift loads, and out of gauge cargo. We consider every project as a whole new experience. With very experienced colleagues to handle any aspect of the project at any point of its handling, we are proud to be under the CSS group umbrella. Strictly adhering to the latest ISO & HSE policies, Team Projects provide our customers with seamless solutions with zero incidents from start to finish.

Looking ahead in 2021

2020 presented many an obstacle with the pandemic, yet we performed better than 2019! We have realized that we are more or less dependent on a set of key clients to sail us through. This needs an imminent change.

In 2021, Team CSS plans to have drastic changes in strategy. We are keen to develop the region’s key customer base by increasing our market reach beyond the U.A.E to the Middle East with our offices as support pillars. By expanding our reach, we will be sought after for projects in the region. The support provided by our valuable partners will allow us to achieve this. This will be our first step for 2021 towards our long-term vision for the next few years.

 As the markets open up after a disastrous 2020, several stalled projects are coming back into active mode. Team CSS is working to be at the forefront of things when the market opens.

Rising competition is a given in the project logistics arena, but an increase in project forwarders with little or no capabilities to perform is the real threat. Being a niche segment, the opportunities are immense, but forwarders with little or no knowledge can turn out to be the real spoilsport.

Propelling the CSS Vision

The CSS vision is to take the organization to be the leading integrated freight forwarder in the region. The Projects division will not take a back seat in this vision’s fulfillment, but we will be the propellant force in bringing CSS towards our common goal. By connecting our vision statement to the team, we will encourage each player to take responsibility in achieving our common goal. 

It’s All About “US”!

At CSS, “I” really does not hold a stand. Working shoulder-to-shoulder to achieve the common goal, we have always called ourselves Team CSS. This is what sets CSS apart from the rest and will continue over the years to come.

With a stronger and more confident Projects Team, we will sail the roughest of the seas by following this AAA diktat. Acknowledge our shortcomings, Aspire towards the shared vision and work towards its Achievement.

RAKESH MENON – GROWING UP WITH CSS

cssWith my 23-year tenure with CSS, my growth story has been in tandem with the company’s evolution from the initial days till what the company has grown to be today, a multinational company with offices across the GCC region, the Indian sub-continent, and beyond. From starting as a sales executive to being Sr. Vice President, it has been a phenomenal journey.

Ushering in Winds of Change

The year 2020 ushered in much change in our industry. New technology and market equations and rising customer expectations, and newer business models presented opportunities and risks.

Adopting and adapting to new technology is the rule of the day. The best way to conquer the highly competitive market is to focus on customer service.

New Technologies, New Market Equations, New Business Models 

The pandemic has brought several threat factors in its wake. It has increased competition and tightened margins. Our focus for the first half of 2021 will retain our existing traditional customers with hands-on customer service. 

The recent trade forecasts predict that freight and shipping volumes will rebound in 2021 as the world is slowly recovering from the economic recession caused by the pandemic. With the Middle East opening to markets that were closed for years, the next few years look promising with many opportunities. This is the hour to come up with “out-of-box” solutions that will invariably produce organic growth.

The new market equations and new business models with digitization will create a highly competitive market scenario. These new digital business models have the strength to seize the industry leadership, leaving the traditional forwarders far behind. We have always managed to stay ahead of CSS’s curve by adopting new business models and investing in digitization.

CSS Values and Culture

At CSS, I value the feeling that I belong to a “big family” and the infectious team spirit to reach the common goal. The open-door policy allows anyone from bottom to top to access the management team to share their suggestions or concerns.

I believe in leading by example. By inspiring and motivating a team with a clear vision and passion for work, we can steer the ship to the pinnacles of success. 

Coming together is the beginning, staying together is progress and working together is a success. This is the mantra I stand by when you combine the energy, knowledge, and skills of a motivated group of people, we can surely accomplish any goal.

VIVEK NAIR SPEARHEADING THE FINANCE VERTICAL

cssA finance professional with 15 years of regional and international experience, my expertise lies primarily in Financial and Performance Project Management, Treasury Management, Corporate Taxation, Corporate Structuring, Business Consulting, Restructuring & ERP across a broad spectrum of industries including Construction, Manufacturing, Trading, Real estate, Service. I joined CSS recently to harness the skill sets acquired over the period to support its vision and mission.

Global Financial Facilitator

Finance is always a support function, and we are primarily responsible for facilitating all the organization’s financial operations. To explain our roles a bit further, our vertical will provide financial leadership across the organization to facilitate rapid growth in liquidity constrained environments, focusing on strategic & tactical planning and corporate governance. Our role would also extend to risk analysis and mitigation strategies, systems, structures & procedures implementation, cash flow & working capital management, margin improvement & cost containment, credit negotiations with client & financial institutions with special emphasis on relationship & team building.

As a vertical, we would be focusing on maintaining the right financial mix to support the CSS growth trajectory with weightage given to generating long term value to the stakeholders. Our focus would be to maintain transparency of financial initiatives undertaken and monitor and control the organization’s health.

CSS Finance Vision

The mission is to provide leadership, operational oversight, and system coordination of financial products and services. We intend to add value with accurate, insightful, and timely information, analysis, and solutions that promote informed decision-making. The vision of our vertical is to be known as a “model for organizational efficiency and effectiveness” that leverages:

4 Integration of risk considerations to enhance decision-making processes and operations;

4 Benchmarking to improve accountability, transparency, and performance; and

4 Professional expertise to deliver service and results on behalf of our stakeholders.

Risk & Mitigation Measures

The macroeconomic situation has worsened with the ongoing pandemic, resulting in a higher risk that the business carries in credit, liquidity, and operations. The Finance team intends to bring a more structured approach to strategic management by documenting and implementing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to deal with financial and operational risk. 

Risk analysis would be undertaken for each of the business’s key segments on a periodical basis with balance and checks to ensure that the risk is mitigated. External stakeholders in the form of bankers and financial institutions will be involved to achieve higher operational leverage. Margins continue to remain under pressure, which we believe could be assuaged partially by Value GAP analysis.

Forging New Partnerships & Commitment to the CSS Vision

Inspiring and motivating people to do their best to achieve the organization’s goals remains the very fabric of CSS culture. We believe innovation, being the CSS vision’s crux, can only be achieved by right and empowered resources. 

To augment the said vision, we would try to inculcate the CSS values by getting our hands dirty, respecting the chain of commands, deliver the promised results, and appreciating the people contributing to the organizational success. 

Our vertical aims to achieve the following goals:  

  1. Steward: Protect the vital assets of the company, ensure compliance with financial regulations, close the books correctly, and communicate value and risk issues to investors and boards.
  2. Operator: Operate an efficient and effective finance organization providing various services to the business such as financial planning and analysis, treasury, tax, and other finance operations.
  3. Strategist: Influence the company’s future direction by providing financial leadership and aligning business and finance strategy to grow the business.

I believe in leading the team by example rather than managing the activities. It creates a picture of what is possible as leading by example and makes it easier for others to follow suit.

GLOBAL FREIGHT FORWARDING BUSINESS HEADED BY ROSHMON MANOLI

cssHaving begun my CSS career in 2000, I have had the opportunity to grow along with the organization and witness its phenomenal growth from close quarters. It has been a privilege to be a part of CSS’s successful journey as it completes 25 years in the shipping and logistics business this year.

CSS has evolved to become one of the most innovative service providers in this region and with offices across the GCC and the Indian subcontinent and extensive global coverage through its international network partners.

Marching onwards

In my new role, I look forward to growing the global freight forwarding business at CSS and the experienced team of product specialists in each of the verticals – Air, Ocean, Supply Chain & CHR Network / Key Account Management. Considering the challenges the industry faced in 2020 amidst the pandemic, tight capacity has been a key characteristic for both air and sea freight forwarding markets. This is likely to continue during the first half of 2021. However, our team is geared to tackle this by offering new solutions and services to customers, building stronger customer relationships, and our key partners. Over the next three years, one of our focus areas is balancing volume growth with revenue sustenance across all the verticals.

New market segments

The E-commerce retail and manufacturing industry will be one of the big drivers for the logistics business. We see this as a potential opportunity for revenue growth moving ahead. The strong work ethic and ‘customer-first’ culture of the CSS team will eventually propel the strategies and plans for the next five years as we surge ahead on full steam towards completing three successful decades in the business.

THE OCEAN FREIGHT VERTICAL HELMED BY SANTANU DATTA

cssMy leg of the journey with CSS began just two years back, in February 2021, as I stepped into General Manager’s role at the CSS office at Jebel Ali, Dubai, UAE. It has been a highly successful tenure with the key responsibility of developing business, particularly ocean freight export. 

 My career spans around 24 years in the shipping and logistics industry before joining the CSS Group. Having worked in various capacities across the Middle East, India & Europe, my experience encompasses both mainliners and forwarding companies.

Strategies, Opportunities & Challenges

With almost 70% of global transportation focused on ocean freight, there is a large potential market to tap. We can develop this service offering to our customer base. While the main focus remains on FCL Export, we also need to strengthen our import and x-trade ocean services while engaging our networking partners worldwide.

 Developing the volume would continue to be our prime focus. However, the right cargo and customer-mix will also be needed to sustain us in this vastly competitive vertical. Expanding our business horizons in this large industry vertical throws many opportunities vide RFQ and we would also focus on SME sectors to balance the risk factor.

Short- & Long-Term Vision and Objectives      

As the year 2021 unfolds, we intend to consolidate all sales forces’ efforts across the UAE and GCC region to create a larger basket to offer to the ocean carrier industry. We will focus on emerging and growth markets like Africa, South-East Asia, and the ever-demanding North American market for the next five years.    

RICHARD VARGHESE LEADS THE SUPPLY CHAIN WING

cssAs I look back at the past ten years of my journey with the CSS family, my heart swells with pride and joy at the immense experience and deep insights I have gained within the freight industry.

The Logistics and Supply Chain Management industries face an uphill battle this year, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This unprecedented crisis has brought new opportunities to the transportation, logistics, and warehousing verticals across the globe. In the year 2021, my team intends to focus on Supply Chain development, and I foresee a good growth rate over the forecast period of 2021-2025. 

CSS is one of the major service providers in the warehousing industry in the UAE, with 500,000 sq feet of storage facility located within Freezones and also across Dubai Mainland. Our capacities include storage solutions for general commodities for both temperature and non-temperature-controlled products. 

Even though CSS has expanded to different verticals over time, warehousing has always remained a core CSS activity for years. With several long-term clients across a wide range of industry sectors, from electronics, apparel, spare parts, tools, furniture, and much more, we have built long-lasting relationships with our client base.

We look forward to developing upcoming services like last-mile deliveries, exhibition, and international relocations as part of our plans for 2021.

Reiterating the vision set forth by the company, our vertical has set our sights on providing the highest quality warehouse logistics, storage, and distribution services across the UAE and beyond.

ANITHA DISPLAYS HER PROWESS AT CUSTOMER SERVICE

cssWith 25 years in the logistics industry, I have had the privilege of covering almost every aspect of this industry. Operations and customer service to sales, special projects, and developing network partnerships – I have handled everything. The cumulative experience has shaped me to be the “right fit” for my current role. The best part is that I have hands-on experience from within the CSS Group itself.  

Customer Service – The Very Heart of Logistics

My current area of focus will be managing and developing the Customer Service division at CSS. My responsibilities will also encompass building relationships with our network of partners along with Special Projects. Critical and time-bound shipments across all industry segments, Special Projects require on-time completion and a keen sense of discretion, given the moves’ sensitivity.

Strategizing for Our Path Ahead

While we have a whole range of tactics and strategies planned for the way forward, the primary one is to increase my team’s strength. Secondly, we are keen on deepening the commitment with our partners worldwide. Engaging with our network partners will help us spread our wings, and in turn, this symbiotic relationship will fuel our partners’ growth.

 The management team has extended their full support to our plans and ideas, which helped implement them without much ado.

Africa and the Far East – The New Frontiers

There is a rising potential in the African and Far-Eastern markets. Working in tandem with our network partners, we can fuel growth in these regions. The signing of the landmark Abraham Accords has eased diplomatic relations between the Middle East and Israel. This strategic move has opened up a large market for the logistics industry. We are indeed living in exciting times!

We intend to expand our portfolio by including more challenging projects in remote areas, thereby further extending our footprint across the region.

Leading by Example

I work by the diktat, “Work Hard, Play Hard.” I believe in leading by example and letting my work and methods be a source of insight and motivation for my team. 

I want to empower my teammates to reach their maximum potential. Be fearlessly ambitious, be ambitiously productive, and productively positive. We can take CSS to the pinnacles of success!

PETER BELAVENDRAN PILOTS THE AIR FREIGHT VERTICAL

cssWith an innate ability to handle multiple tasks at a time, I also possess the capacity to pursue long term goals with focus and dedication. The past year has been a great learning experience, and I am excited about contributing to the CSS vision in the years to come. 

Handling the Air Freight vertical, our team holds the responsibility for import, network development, consolidation, regional air freight, product development, air freight, export sector-wise volume development, Aircraft on the Ground/Dangerous Goods (AOG/DG) product development along with charter and project cargo.

The Way Ahead

We intend to build our agents network for greater synergy, which will enable us to provide competitive product solutions in both imports and exports along with cross-trade to drive volumes. We will also be implementing the new in-house product called Courier/DG/AOG & Perishable movements.  

The world is our oyster concerning the air freight industry. By integrating UAE and Middle East with a greater focus on CNSL and respective airfreight products within the CSS Group, we are confident of conquering this buoyant market segment. 

Vision for the Future

We plan to develop the airfreight division across all CSS locations to offer the airfreight product solutions to our overseas partners and local clients. This initiative will help us enlarge our footprint, thereby increase the airfreight volumes both regionally and internationally.

We foresee that MNC forwarders and major courier companies will approach clients offering heavily discounted rates to fulfill their capacity due to the present situation. The hour’s need is to develop CNSL to convert + 100 Kgs shipments cost-effectively to provide door-to-door service to our clients.

As we finetune the product offerings, we will drive in more airfreight volumes and achieve more than budgeted targeted volumes of 2021. With a long-term vision of setting up a separate CSS Airfreight Division within CSS Group, I believe that positivity combined with the right mix of dedication & teamwork will help us win this game.

FIDA ASGHAR SPEARHEADS THE NVOCC DIVISION

cssHaving completed more than two decades with the CSS family, I can proudly affirm that I am a true-blue CSS-ian, through and through! My jovial and friendly nature has allowed me to enjoy every second of this incredible journey. 

Our team handles sea freight and is mainly into LCL shipments. This vertical has been the backbone and the very bread and butter of the organization. Though we are neutral in the market, this year we intend to concentrate on exports. As for the plans for the coming year, we have many in the offing and will be revealed in the days ahead. 

We look forward to 2021 for greater opportunities as the world opens up slowly after the pandemic and things have started moving. The New Year has brought in the good news of the Gulf countries opening up Qatar’s borders. We have set our targets high for the year ahead, and we will work at achieving the set target of 40,000 cbm in 2021. Our vertical has set our eyes to achieve this target and promote more KSA activity to increase LCL export volumes. 

We operate in an increasingly competitive market with more consolidators coming in every year. However, we believe that with the excellent rapport we build with our clients and our superlative services we provide, that exceeds expectations, we are here to stay and be on top of our game.    

CSS’s greatest strength has always been with the open-door policy, making it easier to communicate with the management and the teams. I look forward to sharing my experiences with the team to lead them on the right path to success. 

RENJITH CAPTAINS CSS ABU DHABI

cssTwenty years of unstinting service! Not everyone knows that I’ve been working here for such a long time. When I look back, I realize that it has been two decades.

 I began my career started with CSS Chennai as an Operations Trainee. I was young and full of expectations. I worked very hard that year and was promoted to Sales Executive. Later on, I had opportunities to work in CSS Mumbai, Delhi, Bahrain, Dubai. And now, I am in Abu Dhabi for the past eight years. 

 My experience with CSS has taught me that progress is never stationary. It has allowed me to evolve according to the situation. My passion for this profession and my dedication to work drives me to achieve both career and personal goals. 

The Logistics Industry – Intimidating yet Exciting

Logistics is both an exciting and intimidating profession. As the saying goes, “No pain, no gain.” However, success makes sacrifices worthwhile.  

Young and Vibrant CSS Abu Dhabi

Our young, vibrant team works with a keen focus on building up the Abu Dhabi portfolio and across the UAE, Muscat, and Oman. Opportunities abound in this region, especially in the logistics sector. We need to strike when the iron is hot and make most of the prospects that open before us.    

 To achieve our targets, we need to upsize the sales team with a dedicated team for Projects (Oil and Gas). This will help us foray into the Oil and Gas project business in Abu Dhabi and tap into the Oman market and contribute to financial outcomes. 

Working Shoulder to Shoulder

The friendly working culture at CSS coupled with the top management’s unstinting support motivates us to perform at our optimum levels. I believe that communication is a two-way street, and we should make sure that there is a constant flow of communication between the teammates. When we appreciate and praise employee efforts and show respect and admiration for their work, it always works out for the company’s best. While people want to know they are respected, we must establish the ground rules for respect.

 I am committed to fulfilling the larger vision for CSS by putting aside personal gain for the group’s well-being.  

 As the great Chinese thinker and philosopher Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” 

MIDHUN GEORGE MOTIVATES CSS ABU DHABI

cssIt takes a conscious effort to build and maintain a workplace where every employee feels like their work is meaningful. CSS is truly such an organization. 

I joined CSS in September 2013 as a Sales Manager. My main role was to develop individual sales and deploy a new sales team for CSS Abu Dhabi. CSS has provided me with a platform to grow professionally and has given me endless opportunities. 

Today I hold the post of General Manager – Sales (AUH), Network Europe & Scandinavia. My learning curve has always been progressive with CSS. I acquire new skills and knowledge every day with my exposure to value-added services and project cargo shipment. My portfolio includes an additional responsibility to develop the agency network (Europe) of CSS Group. 

 

Team CSS Abu Dhabi

Our branch in Abu Dhabi is strategically located amid the industrial hub. We have good access to airports, seaports, customers, and government departments. The highly dynamic team comprises a group of motivated and driven sales personnel. The operations team is well versed with all procedures, documentation, and other operational technicalities. Tackling hurdles and troubleshooting problems here is quicker, thanks to a team of experts with whom I collaborate.

Present and Future Trends 

The hiatus due to COVID-19 has thrown the industry out of gear. Sales figures have not reached desired targets. Apart from this, we face cutthroat competition from other competitors in the market. Slim margins and an increase in the bargaining power of customers has been the trend in the industry. In such an environment, one needs to stay relevant. We need to explore and focus on niche clients to create newer markets. Now is the time to display the art of selling and customer service.

In the year ahead, we intend to get registered with major government entities for their RFQ. One of the key focus areas for us will be the oil and gas business. If we secure a footing in the oil and gas sectors, the branch will benefit much. Another direction we need to take is to invest in moveable assets.

Once we emerge from this pandemic, the global economy will surely improve. Many positive trends are already underway in the global economy. Many pending projects will open up, and there will be greater prospects in commodity trade and e-commerce. At CSS, we should be well equipped to rein in these positive trends into our business.

Determination and Hard Work – The Way Forward

Hard work is the essential key to success. The focus needs to be on our key responsibilities to exceed expectations. We need to stay motivated, sharpen our skills and keep high standards for ourselves. 

Over the years, the top management at CSS has always been approachable and supportive. Most of all, they have displayed themselves as the epitome of optimism. With their uncompromising sound counsel, CSS Abu Dhabi can achieve

THOMAS IN CHARGE OF CSS KINGSTON

cssI stepped on Dubai soil in 2004, and I was lucky to land a job as a sales coordinator with CSS. It was indeed a steep learning curve as I did not have any experience in freight forwarding. However, with the support extended by my seniors and departmental heads, I quickly learned the ropes.  

I moved into sales and then into Key Account Executive’s role and was further promoted as Manager – Key Information Desk. 

Today, I handle the responsibility of overseeing the CSS Kingston’s SAIF Zone Branch and Hamriyah Freezone Branch

CSS Kingston 

CSS Kingston Logistics (CKL) was opened predominantly to tap into the freight forwarding and 3PL opportunity in the northern emirates of the UAE. We have further extended our reach to Hamriyah FZC with our freight forwarding and 3PL services. 

With a total capacity of 110,000 sq. ft covered facility, we can store approximately 13500.00 cbm. We also have an 8000 sq. m open yard facility.

Riding the wave in 2020

No one predicted that a pandemic would have the world reeling under its aftermath. CKL made it an opportunity to expand by helping our customers cut their operational expenses by utilizing our service and expertise.  

Tapping into Opportunity

CKL intends to capitalize on the opportunity based on the current market situation. By expanding our reach to each customer, we can help them cut costs by partnering with CSS Kingston. 

The next on the books is to expand our presence with more branches in northern emirates like Fujairah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, and Umm al-Qaiwain. Enlarging our footprint across the northern emirates will enable our customer base to reach all UAE parts. This will support our customers to expand their reach with our cost-effective offerings with high levels of service.

With an increased requirement of 3PL opportunities in the SAIF zone, we foresee CKL emerging as a brand name to reckon within, especially at strategic locations in northern emirates. 

CSS – Unlike Any Other 

The values and the culture that CSS inculcates is what sets it a notch above the other players in the industry. At CSS, we care for each other, identify talent by enabling people to grow. With a focus and clear vision to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction, we have provided cutting-edge yet cost-effective logistic solutions.

Our customers are our greatest assets, and this is the maxim that drives each employee at CSS. As we increase our assets, we keep growing

AMITH HEADS THE OPERATIONS AT CSS QATAR

Having started my logistics career with CSS in Dubai, today I am placed in Qatar. CSS has provided a platform for me to learn and dabble in all aspects of the logistics spectrum over the last decade. 

CSS Qatar – Surmounting the Odds of the Blockade

CSS Qatar started in 2016 with a limited number of employees. A crisis was just around the corner with the diplomatic crisis in the year 2017. Initially, the aftermath of this crisis was felt by the entire market. Although the market slowed down in the early days of the diplomatic crisis, Qatar soon rolled out ventures with various production units. It further strengthened the market and reached a status of independence. The major strength behind these operations was starting of Hamad Seaport.

Having started CSS Qatar with minimal staff strength, we realized the market changes and moved step by step. In the years that followed, we built a stronger team, increased the sales team strength, and built up our entire team. Every employee of CSS QATAR helped in taking CSS Qatar to what it is today.

FIFA 2022 – A Driving Force

CSS Qatar has been growing along with the growth and development of the nation of Qatar. The government of Qatar has taken several steps for the country’s development by investing in its economy. The prime focus is the 2022 FIFA World Cup and advancements in medicine, electricity, oil and gas, tourism, construction, maintenance, food, and other industry verticals. The government has also announced Vision Qatar 2030. There might arise the opportunity to host Asian Games in 2030. CSS Qatar envisions the strategic role that the company can play during these massive events. 

CSS has made a name for itself in the Qatar market during this period. In the years to come, the team will continue to strengthen itself, devise new strategies, find more business opportunities by understanding each sector’s business potential and setting up separate teams for each of them and will strive to achieve our goals.

Conquering the Credit Challenge 

Timely payments from creditors have been a deterrent for our growth in the past year. Some of our competitors and other new players have been offering credit facilities to their customers with open credit options, without too many formalities. But this can pose a threat to their business growth if they do not realize their payments on time. 

 At CSS, we have decided to effectively tackle this situation by filtering the clients and conducting detailed research into clients’ financial health and track record. If the client clears our benchmarks, we will request them to submit a guarantee cheque as security or PDC against the cargo release. 

2021 – The Year Ahead

The year ahead can be rife with challenges. With the diplomatic blockades having been withdrawn, invariably, there will be a boom in trade, increasing demand for logistics support. This also means a mushrooming of competitor companies in this small market. We are confident that CSS Qatar will score much better results than the year that went by, especially with the opening up of trade linked to the GCC region.

Working Together for Victory

CSS Qatar is glad to be part of the larger CSS family. As we align ourselves to the CSS Group’s vision, we are confident that we will reciprocate the management’s trust. We work together as a team to become one of the major shipping and Forwarding companies in Qatar and spread our footprint across other trade lines. 

AMAL LEADS CSS BAHRAIN WITH A RENEWED VISION

cssHave started with CSS in the year 2010 as Coordinator in Projects, Oil & Energy Department, I have seen my career progress. I later moved on to become the Operations Manager at CSS Abu Dhabi. Currently functioning as the Branch Manager of Console Shipping Services W.L.L, the Bahrain branch of CSS, my 11-year career at CSS has awarded me with opportunities galore. 

I was privileged to work at CSS locations across the region and beyond. From Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah to Oman and Kochi, I have been entrusted with various responsibilities and roles, which has enhanced my skills and experience in all aspects of Logistics.

Surmounting the Odds at CSS Bahrain 

CSS Bahrain branch was restructured and launched as a new branch in October 2019. The challenges ahead are many – we need to bring in new clients and raise and build up a whole new team. The limitation of being a small market with increasingly high competition, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ensuing problems have added to our challenges. 

But despite these concerns, the Bahrain branch has shown stellar performance above expectation in the year 2020. It was indeed a remarkable year for CSS Bahrain. My heart swells with pride as I lead a dedicated team along with the full support from the top management, the wind beneath our wings.

Strategies Ahead

The way forward for CSS Bahrain is simple and straightforward.

First and foremost on our strategic plan, we aim to increase the reach of CSS Bahrain to new customers every day, without compromising the services we extend to our existing customer base in the island nation. We will strive hard to maintain the high standards of excellence in service levels. Continuing the CSS Group’s legacy, we have committed to doing business with utmost dedication to Fair Business Ethics. 

Last but not least, we will work together to keep up the morale of all the employees and team members at CSS Bahrain

Looking Past 2020

The year 2020 brought a downturn to every industry and affected general trade the world over. But with the vaccination drives being rolled out across every nation, we can expect a resurgence in the market in 2021. CSS Bahrain intends to venture into upcoming project movements and tap into the potential clients amongst government entities in Bahrain. 

Our five-year plan includes our vision to be an NVOCC market leader in Bahrain, providing competitive rates and excellent service by maintaining Fair Policy Business Ethics. We also see ourselves as a Freight Forwarder par excellence with the capacity to handle general forwarding and project movements in the region.

Onward and Ahead

Though we face the imminent threat of targeted competition, underquoting, volatility, and rate increase due to the impact of COVID-19, there is plenty of opportunities as well. A huge untapped market is actively on the lookout for a freight forwarder with market-leading logistics solutions. 

Maintaining good relationships with our existing client base will enable us to get accurate feedback. We have also decided to go by the fair policy. No matter what, we will adhere to not under quoting whatever the competitor strategy might be.

With the CSS Group’s focus on the GCC region, the newly started Bahrain branch will contribute to the NVOCC and Forwarding business of the CSS Group by building on the network partners. Our aim remains to: 

  • Ensure 100% customer satisfaction
  • Ensure 100% employee satisfaction
  • Achieve the company targets

 

We look forward to finishing the year in flying colors by repeating and outperforming the excellent performance we displayed as we opened our innings at Bahrain.

SUSANTH SHEKAR MANAGES HUMAN RESOURCES & ADMINISTRATION WITH FLAIR

cssPeople are the most valuable asset of any organization. It is the workers in the lowermost rungs who contribute to their employer’s sustainability and profitability. That’s why human resource professionals take on various roles and tasks that can affect organizational outcomes. 

 My career started with the CSS Group in the year 2009. It came with several opportunities and challenges to manage Human Resources for the GCC’s entire CSS portfolio. 

Human Resources – the Cornerstone of an Organization 

Effectively managing this human capital and recognizing that human resources need to be both administrative and strategic has built up Team CSS. The most challenging duel was to sustain people in the long run with the best talent management. All members of a person’s resources team or department connect the worth of human capital to the company’s bottom line. 

 That’s where Human Resources becomes so crucial. I have been dedicated to nurturing a team that is adept at dealing with people from all backgrounds and levels of experience, knowledge, and skill. Some of the specified attributes to achieve HR efficacy include flexibility, patience, attention to detail, outstanding communication and listening skills, negotiation skills, and professional discretion.

 In the wake of recent developments around world markets, new challenges are evolving, involving collaborating with project teams and employees based outside the office. Remote working culture has become a necessity and is only bound to increase. Technology and online resources have become pivotal in the onboarding, training, and development of employees.

Data-Driven Decisions

Data analytics provide HR departments with the long-term perspective chances to become more empirical. It provides hard evidence for their opinions, thereby gaining much-needed credibility at the business’s very best levels.

One cannot structure and resource an organization as before, as organizations of the future will look radically different. Instead of pushing resources and people based on forecasted demand, fast-paced organizations may instead enable a broad range of resources and people to be pulled on an as-needed basis in response to events in real-time and where they’re going to have the foremost impact.

 We have always viewed individuals as a series of fragmented parts like a neighborhood that must be recruited, learn and progress. Henceforth, we’d like to specialize in every employee and their related needs, which encompasses the extended workforce. Only then can we ensure that this increasingly important resource stays just as motivated and high performing as the traditional employee. 

Transforming for the Future 

The employee experience begins at the talent acquisition phase and especially with the onboarding process that follows. If we get this wrong, they’re going to not be engaged early. The employee journey must add up to it and meet their changing needs, and that’s where digitization is vital.

 Key experiences that have to change significantly are that of the performance and development process. Companies have been experimenting with new performance management approaches that emphasize continuous feedback and coaching, reducing the appraisal’s focus.

 Talent ecosystems are now a reality. Companies cannot consider their workforce to be only the workers on their record but must include freelancers, “gig economy” workers, and crowds. We have to create an integrated employee experience to makes sense to all involved in our organization. 

 Therefore, HR needs to fundamentally reshape itself to become a critical driver of agility and be a leader in digital transformation.

MENUSHA STEERS THE COURSE FOR CSS, SRI LANKA

cssThe two years at CSS have been challenging yet colorful!  

 With so many ups and downs in global trade, CSS has enabled us with the freedom to make decisions as leaders. We have established CSS Colombo as a rock-solid arm of the CSS Group in the Indian Sub-continent. 

CSS Lanka – Our Capabilities

CSS Lanka started in the year 2018 with just two employees. Today, we have full-fledged operations with a very young and vibrant team of seven. Within six months of our inception, we were able to have our staff inside Colombo port to do our stuffing and de-stuffing. 

 As for consolidation, we have proved ourselves to be strong in exports to the Indian Sub-continent and imports to the Far East. From the very onset, we have been handling all kinds of freights (FCL, cross trading, projects, reefers) from and to anywhere in the world.

Backed by CSS’s capability to provide 360° degree logistics solutions covering the entire Gulf region and the Indian sub-continent, CSS Colombo can function as a transshipment hub. Being strategically aligned with the Malship group in Colombo, one of the pioneers in Sri Lankan logistics, lends us a better edge over the other players. 

Anyone Can Sell!

I have always believed in the ‘Anyone Can Sell’ concept. With a background in operations and customer service, I have worked my way up from being a salesperson as I was passionate about giving back to the place I work. I always motivate my team to have their client base, and I have implemented this concept for the Colombo branch. I believe that each of us has a salesman within us. You need to have faith in yourself and bring him out!

Vision for the Future

E-commerce will be the path-breaking frontier, and we could position ourselves as a single platform for bookings, communication, tracking, and tracing. 

Due to the current situation, things can be a tad slower than how it used to be, but from mid or end 2021, the trade will pick up speed in Colombo. Our primary intent at the moment is to maintain sustained growth. With a vision to be on the list of finest freight forwarders in Colombo, this is the season to do the necessary groundwork.  

The Sri Lankan market is still not aware of the CSS Group’s strength, which has proved to be a deterrent in increasing the volumes from Colombo. Regular engagements with clients and carriers can help us in boosting transhipments via Colombo in the future.  

Team CSS

With sound leadership at the helm that extends timely guidance and friendly counsel, CSS is driven by its people. Even though the branches are many, I believe that we are one big family and want to instill that same passion and dedication in my teammates.