On the move

Interview with KLU alumnus Daniel Albuquerque

Daniel Albuquerque's decision to do his MSc in Global Logistics at KLU not only made a long-standing dream come true. It also opened the door to exciting opportunities for progressing in his career.

Albuquerque’s job is to get things rolling. After receiving his MSc in Global Logistics from KLU in 2015, the 34-year-old recently returned to his native Brazil to take up the role of chief business development officer at Contrail Logistics SA, a logistics operator specialized in Brazilian container rail transport. The company is located close to the Port of Santos, the main seaport complex in the region, however rail transport’s current share of the port’s business is only 3%. Albuquerque and his company have taken on the challenge of significantly increasing that figure.

Originally from Fortaleza, the fifth biggest city in Brazil and a mere 3,000 km to the north of Santos, Albuquerque trained as a mechanical engineer before joining the Brazilian steel giant Gerdau. The company has mills scattered throughout North and South America and he rose to the position of head of logistics at the company’s Cearense steel plant. One incentive to join it, Albuquerque says, was the opportunity to follow an international career path and acquire at least a few years of overseas experience. But the 2008 global financial crisis and an apparent shortage of highly skilled people in Brazil led Gerdau to persuade him that the best place for his career was at home. “After that, I started to pursue the dream of having an international experience on my own,” he said. He planned and communicated his dream to the company.

Albuquerque also holds an MBA from the Funda-ção Getulio Vargas in Brazil, and based on some of the best results of his career at Gerdau, he enrolled at KLU in 2013. “I applied to several business and logistics universities,” he explained. “The content of the KLU program itself, the opportunity to boost my ‘international experience project’ with a semester abroad while getting to know another great university (Erasmus University in Rotterdam), and a dedicated career and development team that would show us the relevant skills for entering a new working environment with many different cultural aspects – those were the main points for deciding in favor of KLU.”

It’s a decision that has paid dividends. After completing a business development internship at the Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg during his studies, Albuquerque was working on his master’s thesis on the key account planning process at Kühne & Nagel when he was approached by Eurogate, one of Europe’s largest container terminal operators. Eurogate had seen in his CV in KLU’s annual CV book – a publication containing resumes of students and graduates distributed to companies around the world.

“We began negotiations at the end of July 2015 and I started at the Eurogate container terminal in Hamburg on the first of October that year,” he said. “Our objective was to provide me with additional technical tools, share benchmark practices from the German intermodal cluster, and send me to represent them at Contrail Logística SA -their first acquisition in Brazil.” Equipped with his newly acquired knowledge and skills, he joined the Brazilian company in January 2016.

“I’m now the chief business development officer and work to improve the organization’s market position. My focuses include helping to define long-term organizational strategic goals, identify business opportunities and participate in the development and implementation of the sales strategy,” Albuquerque explained. “My role also involves an operations-related agenda and I’m contributing to the development of rail centers for cargo consolidation, the consolidation of the rail hub at the Port of Santos Intermodal Terminal, and leading a simulation project for identifying the key levers for a rail hub in Santos.”

Brazil is a country on the move. It currently boasts the seventh largest economy in the world and it is widely predicted that the 200-million strong country will overtake the GDPs of France and the United Kingdom by 2025. Brazil also accounts for over $350 billion of Latin America’s logistics revenue, having more than doubled its share in the last decade.

Naturally, the country and region can benefit from the increased use of rail to transport materials, goods and products. “However, we need to change people’s opinions of rail in terms of service level, delivering port-to-door solutions that attend to our customers’ needs and then change the current share of container transport by rail,” Albuquerque said. “This is where Contrail comes in. We are here to help implement the change that happened decades ago in Germany, aiming to develop the intermodal transport that levered the country to where it stands today: boasting the best logistics performance index in the world. We have a lot to do!”

It’s a challenge that his studies and experiences at KLU have prepared him for, Albuquerque says: “Every day I have the feeling that I made the right decision. The experience was essential for my next professional steps.”


By Jeff Kavanagh