Name : Samuel Conroy
Position : Country Manager of Damco Myanmar
What did you first come to Myanmar and what was your impression then?
I joined Damco Myanmar in May 2016 and from the outset have enjoyed my time here immensely. Myanmar people have been very welcoming and I felt from the day that I arrived that I would enjoy my time here. Both from a work and lifestyle perspective, Myanmar has a lot to offer.
What is your impression now?
I am excited about the possibilities for Damco and Myanmar and as quickly as the development has been to this point. It will need to continue develop quickly as the expectation on Myanmar to compete across South East Asia grows. It is clear that everyone sees the opportunity for Myanmar, now is the time to convert that opportunity.
Please explain to our readers about Damco. Damco people are experts in, not just freight movements, but the entire sequence of connections that make goods available wherever, whenever. It is this chain of events that sets businesses like Damco apart. We specialise in some of the most challenging markets, such as fashion and lifestyle, where the speed of change and the need to deliver within narrow time frames creates extra demands. Within these sectors we have developed close working relationships with some of the leading brand names, as well as working with aspiring companies of all sizes, tailoring solutions to meet their needs over many years. We constantly strive to facilitate trade in ways that are easier, faster, less expensive and more efficient than ever before. Damco is supported by the network of the world leading, global shipping giant, Maersk. Having been early innovators in the management of supply chain, today Damco is using the latest technology to help their customers design solutions that predict how we will do business in the future; keeping their clients ahead of the curve as well as ahead of their competitors and their consumers. Damco offers a full suite of logistics services in Myanmar including Supply Chain management, Air freight, and Ocean freight, cross border, trucking and customs clearance. We have a team of over 85 people both at our office and at our logistics center and are servicing our multinational clients for both import and export from Myanmar.
Recently, Damco, joint venturing with Star Light Group, has opened a new logistics center in Yangon. Can you tell me more about it?
Through a partnership with Starlight and based on large volume increases to date and expected in the future, we have built a world class logistics center in Yangon to support our existing customers growth and future customers. It is a world class facility that will deliver the quality and efficiency our customers expect while providing capacity for their future growth.
What are the current projects that your team has been working?
We are continuing to expand our business as our existing customers grow but we are focused on bringing new customers to Myanmar and expanding our services to both existing and new customers. We will also look to expand into new industry verticals such as FMCG and Technology as part of the greater Damco strategy.
From a business standpoint, what do you feel are the biggest challenges facing you and your team in next 1-3 years?
Reducing costs, reducing complexity and reducing lead times to Europe and the US are the main things our customers are looking for out of Myanmar. We need to continue to improve our service while doing this and will also need to provide new services as the global market changes around ecommerce and industry changes. Do you see the export/import sector becoming more competitive as the country opens up to more foreign companies? Competitiveness will not only come from foreign companies and for Myanmar to become competitive in South East Asia and the world there will need to be policies to support and local companies. As foreign companies, we can often bring investment and customers but for the market to become competitive, we all need to play a part and contribute.
If you could change one major government policy, what would it be?
I don’t have any single policy in mind but would hope that in forming new policies we as a global organization with experience in Myanmar are consulted in relation to transport and logistics so that we can share our experience and hopefully improve policy over all.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking up to start up a business and invest in Myanmar?
Build a network as big as possible across as many industries as possible.
Many things may not be clear on how to execute but a diverse group of people and organisations will help to filter the various sources and often mixed messages. How are you enjoying your days in Myanmar? With the clean air and milder climate than I have lived in previously, I have enjoyed living in Yangon and traveling in Myanmar very much. I’m a keen runner and cyclist and so enjoy those activities outside of work and have had some great short holidays to the beaches such as Ngwe Saung and Ngapali beach. I am also looking forward to exploring the inland and mountain areas in the next 12 months.
You are managing Damco in a number of other ASEAN countries. What are the differences between working in Myanmar and in these countries?
While development in Myanmar is behind in comparison with Cambodia and Vietnam, we still observe several synergies by managing these three countries within the same cluster. One example is the sharing of best practices in HR field especially around talent management processes as well as learning and development initiatives. In addition, we are positively impressed about the enthusiasm of our colleagues in Myanmar, their eagerness to grow professionally and their genuine motivation to deliver excellent service to our prestigious clientele.
What is the target market segment for Damco in Myanmar?
In principle we target retail and fashion segments and we try our best to reach and sustain a market leadership position in terms of volumes handled and prestige of our customer’s brands. Another important segment relates to the raw materials imported from China which we are also actively pursuing.
How will Damco develop technical skills and human resource capacity in Myanmar?
Training our workforce in Myanmar is probably our key priority. In fact, we already often send our Myanmar staff to visit our offices and warehouses in Cambodia and Vietnam for specific onthe-job learning objectives considering that Damco’s development in both countries is already quite advanced and various best practices can be shared. In addition, we invest on ad-hoc local training programs targeted at building capabilities on several fronts such as English language skills enhancement, time management and productivity as well as stakeholder management. These are important skills particularly for MNCs staff.
Do you have any plans for further investment in Myanmar?
Our short-term focus is to optimize the recent investment in our new 10,000 square meter logistics center and this project will keep us fully engaged in the next 12-18 months. In mediumterm, we are absolutely open and willing to consider further investment in Myanmar to ensure we support our customer’s growth plans.