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Cargo Champion – Sebastiaan Scholte

Cargo Champion – Sebastiaan Scholte


Remembering the simple pleasures of life have long been overshadowed by our alarmingly acquisitive global society, where celebrities are elevated to gods, commanding more newspaper column inches than they deserve and footballers are paid more money in a week than many earn in their entire lifetime.

Federico Felliini famously advised: “You have to live spherically - in many directions. Never lose your childish enthusiasm - and things will come your way.”

CCA Chairman Sebastiaan Scholte's philosophy on the vicissitudes of life is in keeping with the vivacious spirit of the late and much celebrated Italian scriptwriter and film director who tantalised cinema audiences with his iridescent portrayal of love, life and death.

“I look at my children and they have this light in their eyes. A bright look of strength, fun, curiosity, excitement – eyes that speak and I think that’s something as an individual you have try to hold onto,” says the father-of-two.

“If I won US$20m in the lottery, I might be less happy than I am right now – because I still have desires, something to aspire to, which sometimes can be nicer than owning.”

Born in the city of Groningen, northern Holland, Scholte’s passion for travelling was ignited by his dentist father’s decision to move his family to Spain when he was a teenager.

The dramatic change in environs not only fuelled his desire for experiencing different cultures but was also instrumental in him electing to embark on an internship at a paint factory in Brazil, one of the most captivating countries in the world, while studying for a business economics degree.

During his spare time he immersed himself in books about the history and politics of Latin America. The move resulted in a job opportunity at Aeromexico Cargo serendipitously setting him on his air cargo path, aged 24. Within two years he was vice-president of sales in Europe, based in Madrid.

“I was in the airline industry for almost 15 years. From Aeromexico, I moved to Cargolux. I still have a lot of kerosene DNA in my blood, you could say,” jokes the chief excecutive of Jan de Rijk Logistics.

His passion for the industry and his drive to be best is evident in the innovative work under way at Jan de Rijk. “One day you are talking to somebody about rail traffic, the next, about airlines – 40 per cent of our business is still being a road feeder service supplier for airlines. There is not a single day I am not learning,” he enthuses.

“I am excited by my ability to make changes within the organisation, take it in different directions and then see the results. I am able to realise my own vision for the company. I am also excited by how diversified we are and our continued expansion.” The company plans to operate a train terminal – and double its intermodal traffic in the next three years.

But Scholte is well aware that all work and no play can make a dull boy. Although the 42-year-old would never describe himself as a thrill-seeker per se in search of the next bungee jump, he admits he cannot sit still.

He swims three times a week, runs and occasionally indulges in windsurfing. He prescribes laughter as the perfect antidote to a demanding lifestyle, and is also partial to the odd tipple with industry buddies.

“I drink once in a while, of course. It’s almost impossible in this industry not to, but there should be a good balance. Everything in excess is not good.“What’s great about this industry is that it is very sociable. It’s almost like a cargo family. You meet the usual suspects everywhere – and this is nice.”

But it is also apparent that problem-solving is his lifeblood.“Obviously, I live for my family and I would sacrifice my life for them, but the two main rules I live by are: ‘Always acknowledge your mistakes, and keep on finding challenges so you don’t become complacent.’.”