"The logistics sector has so much more to offer than it initially seems"

Wed | 22 Jul 2020 | Interviews

"The logistics sector has so much more to offer than it initially seems"

We regularly interview inspiring professionals from the world of traffic, mobility, transport and logistics. We are keen to hear about what drives them and to gain knowledge about innovations and real-life cases.

This time, we spoke to Angeline Markus, Key Account Director at Olympia – for the Logistics, Professional Services, Engineering, Government, Industrial and Transport sectors – and a committee member for the Dutch Logistics Manager of the Year award. Olympia provides recruitment and employment services for customers including Albert Heijn online, AS Watson, The Greenery, Flora Holland, Samsung

Angeline, you’ve joined the committee for the Logistics Manager of the Year award. Why did you decide to do that, and what does it entail exactly?

“My decision was driven by my passion for logistics and because I believe the logistics sector deserves more recognition. The recent coronavirus situation has made it clear to everyone that logistics is an essential sector. It is also an accessible sector for a large group of people and has much more to offer than what most people see from the outside.”
“The industry is currently facing two main challenges: a labour market shortage, and changing roles due to automation and digitalization. That’s why it’s important that logistics managers are able to spot – and nurture – potential in people. We’re strong advocates of that at Olympia, and I am personally too.”

How will you incorporate that ambition into the award process?

“I want us to address these topics much more thoroughly in the ‘Logistics Manager of the Year’ award, because how can you discover talented people from a completely different sector, for example, with non-traditional experience and qualifications? How can you tell whether someone has the right potential for development? And how can you ensure that you keep your existing employees happy and up to scratch in terms of the new skills needed today? There are so many opportunities to further develop the logistics profession. The logistics manager plays a crucial role in that and can really make a difference.”
“I like getting involved in things like that as part of my role. I love working at Olympia, and development potential is one of our key topics. Thanks to my knowledge and experience of the labour market, I can definitely make a valuable contribution in this position. My aim is to make the top 50 Dutch logistics professionals all eager to be considered for the award.”

Who are the absolute creme de la creme in the logistics sector – people who should definitely put themselves forward or allow themselves to be put forward for the award?

“As an independent jury member I can’t name any names, of course, but I can tell you what I will be looking out for: future-oriented professionals with a passion for innovation, adaptability and strong networking skills. This is what is needed by both the industry and the labour market. The future of the sector lies in new strategies based on keywords such as smarter, smaller and connected.”

What do you mean by that?

“Make use of new technologies, focus on the section of the supply chain that you excel at and ensure that you’re continuously making new connections within your environment. Organizations are seeking professionals who can anticipate change. The top talents of the future will be the experts who are able to rapidly learn new skills and – if necessary – ‘unlearn’ old ones.” 

In the press release about your appointment to the committee, you’re quoted as saying that the logistics sector has a leading position in the Netherlands but that it can still be very difficult to fill logistics vacancies. Will this remain the case even though we’re apparently heading for a recession, and if so why?

“Yes, even in the face of such prospects this will definitely remain unchanged. We’re seeing that digitalization is accelerating, partly due to the coronavirus situation – and not only in logistics, but also in other sectors covered by Olympia. This is also causing a shift in demand – for different kinds of people, different roles and different competencies than we’ve become used to. Besides that, online shopping is increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception, which is of course contributing to a rise in demand and greater pressure on distribution centres. Just look at how many new DCs have opened in the past year; the strong growth in e-commerce continues.”
“Besides that, changing consumer purchasing behaviour has led to shorter supply chains. That means less inventory, more just-in-time deliveries and all the associated challenges. Nationally and internationally active companies are already concerned about the declining number of workers available for long-term deployment.”

In the world of transport there’s a dramatic shortage of truck drivers. What should employers do, in your opinion, to make that role more appealing?

“That question is based on the assumption that it’s necessary to make the role more appealing. But in my view, many employers have also been looking in the wrong place. There is a large group of people from other sectors who are very keen to become truck drivers, whether to ‘live their dream’ or as a career switch. In that respect, new entrants to the sector are extremely important to solve the labour shortage. So personally, I prefer to focus on taking a different view of talent. We help such new entrants to retrain and work on their development so that we can deploy them where they are much needed.” 

To what extent is supply chain digitalization affecting logistics roles, and how?

“There’s no doubt that logistics roles will change, and that will have significant consequences for the types of employees we need in the future. That might mean different talents and new potential, but it’s very important to realize that the emergence of new roles also opens up more new potential. Besides that, you should start investing in your current workforce now so that they’re able to make the transition. With the right focus on training and guidance, they can still have a bright future in the sector.”

How will logistics roles look in the future, and why?

“The future lies in automation and digitalization: insight into data. Tomorrow’s winners will be the ones that succeed in analysing all the data. It’s very important to focus on interpreting this data in the right way together.”
“The classic supply chain comprising standard goods flows between shippers and recipients is being replaced by a network in which everyone in the chain can act on everyone else’s behalf. All the available capacity, both private and professional, will be used to get the goods to the consumers. In the future, we will see a continual increase in collaboration and networking.”

What else do you predict in relation to personnel management?

“One new trend that will also become apparent in the logistics supply chain is the shift towards work becoming increasingly personalized. A growing number of employees are actively choosing employers that are a good fit with their own character and beliefs in terms of culture, values and atmosphere. If they want to be successful in the future, organizations will have to be able to connect with potential candidates emotionally in order to attract and retain them. On the flipside, organizations will be able to expect potential employees to fully commit to the business objectives and to consciously choose to work for them. This offers employees new development opportunities and creates agile and innovative organizations that are capable of rapidly implementing changes.”

Last but not least, how can companies recruit the market’s top talent? What sets you apart as a successful employer in this industry? Have you got any tips?

“It’s important that you understand people’s underlying motivation; that’s where it all starts. The work must be aligned with the person’s passion and motivation, plus they are better indicators of job satisfaction and success. A person who has the right passion and potential to evolve for one of the industry’s roles will also succeed. Within Olympia, we conduct meaningful interviews to uncover the person’s unique value: what they can and want to do, rather than what they’ve done so far.”
“I firmly believe that if you give people meaningful work, offer them a degree of personal autonomy and create development opportunities, you can always find – and retain – people for your organization. This is something that we also regularly discuss with our clients, with the aim of persuading them to adopt this approach if they haven’t already done so. It all comes down to employee satisfaction; that plays a key role in how long they stay with you, their level of engagement and their productivity.”