Seasoned Leadership in Action™ – An Interview with La Chang, CEO at TGL!

La Chang

At Supply Chain Game Changer we believe in sharing experiences and expertise from people in every industry and from across the globe.  As such we have introduced our “Seasoned Leadership in Action™” Interview series. This interview is with La Chang, CEO at Think Global Logistics (TGL), an international freight forwarding company.

Since the inception of Supply Chain Game Changer our mission has been to share experiences and expertise for the benefit of everyone. One of the supporters of Supply Chain Game Changer has been La Chang and his team at TGL.

Here is our interview with one of our great colleagues at Think Global Logistics, La Chang, Chief Executive Officer.

1. Tell our readers a little about your background and experience.

Starting off as a graduate trainee sales for FRITZ COMPANIES I adapted quickly to the industry selling UK and US air freight trade lanes. Leveraging my social networking contacts I concentrated my efforts in acquiring market share within the music import industry. 2 years later I controlled over 70% of the vinyl record market in Australia and quickly branching off in to other music formats.

With the support from clients such as Central Station Records, HMV, SANITY, Sony Music and many other specialist music importers I was able to create a 2 weekly consolidation program for this industry. 

Fast forward to 2009 and after many years developing various trade lanes I took on the challenge of establishing an Australian operation for a fortune 500 company, C.H. Robinson. Starting with only myself on the ground I firmly established Robinsons first footprints in the Australian market.

During this time, I redesigned the platform on how we are to serve our customers in Australia resulting in the only country within the CHR global network where we had the single dedicated person service model. 

I like most in my industry did not actively choose to be in freight and during the earlier years I was challenged by this idea. However, year after year I have found value in my role and have contributed greatly to every organization I was a part of.

After 25 years I am happy and honored to say I have earned my place in this industry where I can demonstrate my passion for moving cargo from A to B. “Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get”.

2. What are some of your greatest achievements in Business?

I personally do not believe I have made any substantial or significant achievements worth mentioning. The closest thing would be to have made all the mistakes I have and for the business to be resilient enough to withstand the challenges caused by those mistakes is quite humbling. And of course all the great people that have joined our company and we were able to add value to their careers. 

3. How has Business and Supply Chain changed over the course of your career?

Our established customers has become very sophisticated and efficient in the way they sell to market. So naturally their demand for more efficient logistics goes without saying.

The market in general is much faster moving that it used to be. Anyone can source something and bring to market easily and sometimes without even actually meeting face to face with their suppliers. This simply would not have happened in the 90s when I joined the industry.

Even with our business we have serviced customers in all different parts of the world and some we have actually never met in person. Technology has made it all possible. Whether this is good or otherwise is subjective but it is very much reality today. 

4. What are some of the lessons you learned in your career that you would like to share for others to learn from?

Be real and speak candidly. Always understand why you are doing what you are doing anything else is just wasting your own time and energy. 

5. What challenges facing the world are important to you?

Under privileged children, domestic violence and mental health are some of the challenges that are high on my radar of interest and support. I try not to get macro with my value system. Rather I prefer to focus on my immediate surroundings and community.

To do best for those closest to you and the community you are directly a part of is a good start and maybe even a good end point. If we all just focused on that, I believe the world would be a much better place. 

6. What is the role of Business, Supply Chain, and Change Leadership in addressing these challenges?

Well how we treat ourselves firstly is a good sign of how we will treat others. How we treat our loved ones is a good sign of how we treat others. And as a business how we treat our customers and the community is fundamental to the identity of that business and its value systems.

Be upfront and honest both personally and as a business is a good start in the correction of the behaviors that leads to the challenges mentioned above. 

7. What are you working on these days?

I am putting my hard-earned dollars into understanding and developing technologies that will carry the logistics industry into the next phase of evolution. Tech is the future, and I am still very much grappling with how we are to leverage it and what that means for the existing people that are in it.

I am educating myself and implementing ideas just to test outcomes. I genuinely believe even in the face of emerging tech that may replace people in the functions of what we do there is still a place for people… and that starts with the development of tech that doesn’t solely aim at replacing people but retooling people and redefining the human functions within it all. 

8. What advice would you give to people who have a career in, or who are considering joining, Business and/or Supply Chain?

This is a tough one. I know I am a freight man for life, but it hasn’t been an easy journey and it took a lot of kicking and screaming to get to where I am. It was painful and yet rewarding. The industry isn’t glamourous or even a well paid one.

But the reality is that if you want to be successful in it you need to be resilient as hell and have a never say die mentality. Because the industry isn’t going to make it easy for you, the status quo simply doesn’t care for you nor the market it serves. So, to keep the fire burning in the face of this reality is damn tough.

But society cannot evolve without supply chain evolution, and that will take people, special kind of people that can see all the challenges and yet still brave enough to have a go. A candle however small can shine quite brightly in a dark cave. 

9. How can people contact La Chang?

La Chang can be reached at [email protected].

Originally published on November 15, 2022.