"KLU Talks Business": ... with Martin Araman, Sovereign Speed

In celebration of our 10th anniversary in 2020, we have started a new interview series: KLU Talks Business. Our first guest is Martin Araman. The manager founded the Hamburg-based transport company Sovereign Speed more than twenty years ago. Known as the “airline on the streets”, Sovereign transports goods in over 17 countries. Over 750 employees handle more than one million contracts yearly. The BMBF-funded research project Hansebloc, the company's involvement in our Startup Day, and a growing number of KLU alumni in their team has formed a strong connection with the company. Find out why Martin Araman would jump at the opportunity for a professorship at KLU.

You are the founding CEO of the Hamburg-based transport company Sovereign Speed. What do you enjoy about your job?

Martin Araman: Where to begin and where to end. Firstly, it makes me very happy to be able to work with so many fantastic people at Sovereign. Apart from that, it is nice to work on something that doesn’t exist yet.

Our product advantage has proved to be a successful niche. We offer our transport services solely to forwarders, integrators and express services. It’s a lot of fun for me to constantly be working on developing our brand. Transporting from A to B is pretty unspectacular, but when a new network of transportation lines comes out of it, it becomes exciting and diverse. 

KLU educates globally-minded managers. What do you personally consider to be good management and what can the world learn from Sovereign Speed?

Martin Araman: It would be presumptuous to say that the world could be learning anything from us considering that we surely operate and manage in a completely different way compared to other companies of our size. At Sovereign, we value a familiar atmosphere and operate on a flat and efficient organization structure. I think our secret is that we train our managers ourselves. Let’s take for example Daniel Zander, current CEO of Sovereign Aircargo Services who is personally responsible for over one hundred employees. Daniel started his training with us ten years ago. Then he spent four years in England at Sovereign LHR. He came back to Hamburg as team leader and today he is one of our best managers. We have been using this concept a long time and it works really well for us.

Sovereign Speed has participated at the KLU Startup Day multiple times and also sponsored the event. Which startup trend is also relevant for large companies?

Martin Araman: There’s only one answer here: data, data, and more data! It’s 2020 and in air cargo, which is the most expensive segment of logistics, we still work like its 1980, because, for example, we still transport things like documents. Startup companies recognize these challenges and are automatizing and digitizing logistics processes. The starts with accepting orders, pricing, disposition, and payment of the transport.

Since each logistics company uses its own transport management system, it would be extremely relevant to develop overall solutions which could simplify and automatize a variety of processes.

In 2020, KLU is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. This occasion prompts us to continue looking ahead. What advice can you give us on our path?

Martin Araman: That’s easy! We value KLU because, compared to other universities, it probably operates comparatively as Sovereign does with other major forwarders. It’s very sophisticated, yet slightly sassy. It’s international, always respectful, and engages its students at eye level. If I were a professor, I’d apply at KLU on the spot. You do a lot of things very, very well and that’s the path you should continue on.

Thanks for your time!