Our very own Tanja Janfruechte (CEO Of Pacific Air Cargo) was recently interviewed and featured in the Pacific Edge Magazine 16th Anniversary Issue! Did you see it? If not, you’re in luck! Download the article or read below and check it out!
As an experienced business leader, how do you define success?
Success can be so many things. For me, it’s many things, but one that comes immediately to mind is longevity in a team. At Pacific Air Cargo (PAC), we have a large portion of our team (and most management) that have been here since the inception of the company in 2000—many, including myself were promoted from within and continue to lead the company with the same vision.
As you reflect on your life and career, would you change anything personally or professionally?
I can’t think of anything specific other than the small decisions that are made that we wish we could change. I’m happy with my path, so therefore don’t think I’d want to change anything.
What are two of the most important milestones of your career?
Probably the most significant was when I was promoted to Vice President here at PAC—this defined my role on an entirely new level, defining company strategies, focusing more on team building and building relationships with existing partners. The second, undeniable milestone was when I became CEO. Although the company had a textbook plan and it was in the plan that I was training for this, the timing was very unexpected, due to the sudden passing of our Founder and CEO. It was an extraordinary time, one that I thank our founder every day for preparing me for, including the lesson of making sure I continue to learn and listen. Listening has really gone to the top of the list. Listening to the team and to our partners is critical.
What are your plans for the next 10 years?
My plans are to hopefully continue with PAC for as long as I have the honor to do so. We have long-term commitments from both our customers and partners that require growth from us to fulfill; so frequency of our schedules is a focus, for one. We’ve already grown from five to six flights weekly, and we’re now working on a seventh . Personally, I hope to travel more; there is a lot of the world I have not seen and would love to experience.
What are some words of advice for an exit strategy?
Make sure you have a succession plan in place.
How have you grown and pivoted in the past five years?
I am fairly new to my CEO position. Five years ago, I was VP, and although part of the leadership team, I had a different leadership role that I’d gained a few years earlier. Our entire organization had to pivot and overcome the loss of our leader. We were taught and led by one person for 20 years, so pivoting from this without losing any remembrance or respect of what we learned in our past was very important. Quite honestly, I grew up very fast with little choice, but was very thankful for the many years of experience in various roles I had to help me grow into my new position. COVID-19 then came along, and drove us to pivot in other directions. For example our flights operate round trip between Los Angeles and Honolulu —when COVID forced Hawai‘i (and the world) to shut down, we were flying our planes back to Los Angeles empty so we worked with partners to re-route and “share” flights to get us through the unique and sudden change.