INTERVIEW: Peder Winther, Kuehne + Nagel
Peder Winther became Kuehne + Nagel’s president for the Middle East & Africa as of January 1, 2015
How have the first six months been in your new role as president, Middle East & Africa, Kuehne + Nagel?
The first six months have been very energising and rewarding. We started the year well and we have managed to continue at a good pace, based on teamwork and strong customer focus.
What are your short and long-term goals for Kuehne + Nagel?
We have many different goals, such as customer satisfaction and customer value creation, employee retention and development, and market penetration. We also have financial goals, including shareholder value creation and having a strong balance sheet. Our DNA is very much centred on continuous improvements, always having a strong ambition and being a role model, externally and internally. We strive to be the most respected forwarding and logistics group, and to deliver as promised.
What is the significance of Dubai World Central (DWC) as a hub for the company?
DWC creates a competitive advantage through very strong infrastructure with top notch sea and air ports, a business friendly investment climate, ease of doing business from the local government, and a great location for distribution to the region.
How are you celebrating the company’s 125th corporate anniversary this year?
We have made two special containers that have travelled the world, eastbound and westbound respectively, allowing us to share our history and forward plans with our customers, suppliers, colleagues and general stakeholders. We had the containers arriving in Hamburg on 1 July 2015 and we used this occasion to look back on a very special year so far, giving us pride and being humble about being able to continue to progress. That’s why we say ‘125+ bridging tradition and innovation’.
What kind of challenges does the company face in recruiting the right talent?
We see that talented people want to work for a successful company. They want to have opportunities to develop at a personal level, and have the freedom to innovate and challenge the status quo. There is a lot of good competition from outside our industry.
In this region we need to be much better at promoting and developing local talent – they are very eager to learn and work in a global network business like freight forwarding and logistics.
The most important factor [in attracting talent] is to be successful, and to have a dynamic and inclusive working environment.
What do you see as the main challenges faced by the regional logistics industry and where are the growth areas?
The key challenge and also the major opportunity is that on the one hand you have the asset owners, such as container shipping companies and airlines, not having a sufficient return on investment. On the other hand you have major cargo owners expecting continuous cost reduction and service improvement. This gives the logistics companies their purpose by developing innovative solutions and costing models, which creates value across the supply chain, and also facilitating collaboration between the different parties.
Today, there is still too much of a silo mentality in many aspects of the business. Improving technology and better training can help the process of working more holistically. The growth opportunities come from the solution part of the business and, specifically in our region, we have many countries where an increased standard of living will lead to growth in the demand for transportation and logistics.
Personally speaking, what first attracted you to working in the logistics industry?
The chance to see the world, working with colleagues from different cultures and of different nationalities, and – not least – enjoying an extremely dynamic industry where you can get the chance to grow and develop.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The balance between execution and strategy, and the diversification of the countries we have in the MEA region.
How would you describe your leadership style?
It is probably best to ask my colleagues but I am ambitious, focused and enthusiastic. I respect others and enjoy working in a team where people are comfortable to constructively challenge each other to do better. I am also quite informal and value a good sense of humour.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start or build a career in logistics?
Get to know the basics of the business as fast as you can so you know what you are talking about. Be open to trying different things in different environments, and appreciate that success comes from teamwork.
What tips would you share for becoming the boss?
Improve yourself every day, take responsibility when you fail and enjoy what you do.