RSA Logistics’ success comes from aspiring to create a workplace where employees feel like entrepreneurs within the organization says Co-founder and Managing Director Abhishek Ajay Shah.
Circumstances were not all rainbows and butterflies when Abhishek Ajay Shah co-founded the award-winning RSA Logistics Company along with his family members in 2009 – set against the backdrop of a global economic crisis. “We were amongst the first few in Dubai World Central in the midst of a sea of sand. We had to be innovative to win clients. We put a lot of emphasis on bringing on board the right partners to gain access to some great customers around the world and provide them with unique propositions. From there it catapulted as we grew in terms of knowledge, experience and an understanding of what customers were looking for,” he recalls.
Abhishek has the good fortune of coming from a family with a vast entrepreneurial background. This means that he not only had access to the funding needed to launch an enterprise, but also benefitted from a treasure trove of entrepreneurial experience. But, as any seasoned entrepreneur would know, you need more than just funding and luck to build a successful business. And, Abhishek was well aware of this. He had the foresight to start from the ground-up; getting his hands dirty with the most basic cargo-handling procedures. This gave him detailed insight into the operational side of the business, which was necessary for identifying the gaps.
“Our vision has always been to creatively overcome the supply chain challenges our customers face and to help them grow,” reveals Abhishek. “Logistics, by the nature of its existence, is continuously evolving and we need to reanalyse and revisit our clients’ supply chains. We want to be an enabler of their success stories, a partner rather than just a traditional warehouse and delivery agent.” He adds that technology has played a big role in RSA Logistics achieving that vision. The company led the way with developing apps as early as 2011 to track retail deliveries. The idea was to eliminate the long chain of communication between the courier, the customer service operator, the customer’s customer service operator and the customer’s customer – with no real information getting to the person who first requested for it. Technology eradicated this noise by “putting power in the courier’s hand and information on the screen in the customer’s office,” as Abhishek puts it.
Even though technology has been a key enabler for RSA Logistics, the ambitious leader believes there is still a long way to go. “We’re seen as a very innovative company, but this has not happened by design. What we did aspire to be is a market shaker by developing great relationships, great partnerships, bringing the right people to the table and ultimately delivering on our commitments.” Bringing the company’s systems to the cloud for example, is aimed at not only allowing the company to set up in multiple geographical locations, but more importantly enable the team to concentrate on outward thinking, customer focus and developing and programming for the customers. “That just goes to show how we keep evolving to focus on the customer’s needs, developing and listening for their programming, reiterating and delivering information the way they want to see it.”
Abhishek is quick to add also that technology is not the only key differentiator between RSA Logistics and other service providers catering to the market. “Technology is a big factor of our success and why many of our customers like us. But in a nutshell, our USP is our technology systems, the speed of execution, high quality infrastructure that we design and develop for very specific uses and of course phenomenal personalised service. Our tagline is ‘Logistics Personalised’ and we really mean that.”
This is also where the company’s culture plays a major part in its continued success. “We still have that founder’s mentality throughout the organisation,” he states. “We know this is our bread and butter and that sentiment really flows through the value system of the organisation. We give people complete freedom and autonomy on how they take care of their clients and take ownership of the organisation’s success as a whole.” Continuing in the same vein, Abhishek proudly tells SME Advisor that RSA Logistics’ greatest success would be its focus on people. “We wanted to become an employer of choice where our people are free to become entrepreneurs within the organisation and actually deliver something from and for themselves. I do like the fact that we’re creating a workplace that people want to work for; and feel like they’re a part of the family.” Despite only recently having won the “Employer of the Year” award at the 2016 Middle East HR Excellence Awards he humbly adds that this is a milestone that they are still working hard to achieve. The title was conferred upon RSA Logistics for showing outstanding people development strategies that fostered an environment of engagement and motivation, leading to higher productivity.
Speaking about the future of the company and whether it would continue to be a family-owned entity, Abhishek tells us his plans, “The customer is who it’s all about, so we’re doing what we understand will help us deliver value to the marketplace. We’ve already taken a step towards RSA Logistics no longer being an exclusively family business by taking investable equity joint venture partnerships with both family and non-family organizations. These partnerships have helped us spread our wings and attain a greater understanding of what we can or cannot do.”
Elaborating on plans for the company for 2017, Abhishek tells SME Advisor, “We have a few very interesting projects we’re hoping to launch in the UAE. Our Kenya operations are progressing steadily and we’re also in the process of amping up operations in India. Operations in Saudi Arabia is on the cards as well. Those are very diverse markets and kicking off our plans in all four would be a big milestone for RSA Logistics.”
Abhishek tells us there are two major developments he feels will majorly affect the logistics sector. The first is autonomous vehicles which will be a huge development especially in our part of the world where road safety is a major challenge. The other game changer he feels will be 3D printing which could actually threaten the supply chain business in the long-term because people will start much closer to the market instead of stocking. Rather than seeing it as a challenge however, Abhishek sees it as an opportunity, “We’re thinking about how to get involved.”
So what are the lessons learned by a young entrepreneur in an industry with bigger, more experienced players? “If I had to bring it down to three core learnings,” Abhishek divulges, “the first would be to surround yourself with a great mentorship network. Really seek advice. It’s surprising how many other successful people don’t mind helping you with advice and support. The second is to make your own luck by working hard and making sure that you’re in a position to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Lastly and perhaps most importantly is to hire people that are way better than you which will allow you to focus on the bigger vision.”
Unconventional perhaps, but sometimes unconventional works!