Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics with Radu Palamariu

#06: Bjorn Vang Jensen Global Head of Logistics at Electrolux - Part 2

September 26, 2017 Season 1 Episode 6
Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics with Radu Palamariu
#06: Bjorn Vang Jensen Global Head of Logistics at Electrolux - Part 2
Chapters
Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics with Radu Palamariu
#06: Bjorn Vang Jensen Global Head of Logistics at Electrolux - Part 2
Sep 26, 2017 Season 1 Episode 6
Radu Palamariu
Bjorn Vang Jensen, Global Head of Logistics at Electrolux. Bjorn is a global industry figure, started his career as graduate of the A.P. Møller/Maersk Shipping School.
Show Notes Transcript

Bjorn Vang Jensen, Global Head of Logistics at Electrolux. Bjorn is a global industry figure, started his career as graduate of the A.P. Møller/Maersk Shipping School. Subsequently worked for Maersk group, then on the 3PL side for DHL and TNT. And last 13 years as a proud leader of the Electrolux supply chain team. All in all, Bjorn has lived in Asia for the past 28 years, during which time he has been based in Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore.

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Episode #06 Part 2 Highlights:

  • A recent 27 employee company acquired by Electrolux is transforming the way people across the whole company are thinking, how they communicate, how they manage e-commerce.
  • The importance of telling great stories to attract the best talent. 
  • The right mindset that as a Chief Supply Chain Officer of a company should have.

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Speaker 1:
0:03
Super. So moving on to the next segment, people, um, [inaudible]
Speaker 2:
0:07
the challenge is that supply chain typically is not seen as a sexy, you know, sexy domain or it's not the, you know, it's not, technology is not, banking is not a, I don't know, other interesting, uh, interesting stuff. Um, or it's so, so it's perceived. What's your thoughts? Any ideas on how, how do you make a career in supply chain more attractive to people? It's a good question and it's a, it's one that, uh,
Speaker 3:
0:30
we hear a lot. It's not a supply chain. When we have those discussions around the other functions inside our own company as well. And, and you hear it a lot. I know what made it attractive to me back in the day when I started in supply chain. And I would say that goes back 30 years, right when I first started in shipping school, it was the idea of working international. It was the idea of working globally with, with and potentially the idea of living anywhere in the globe and with a, with a skill that is extremely portable, provided you have the language to, to uh, to communicate. It's an extremely portable skill. Uh, I was privileged in, in July, my son, my 17 year old son, did a one month internship in Miami with a three PL and the, and it was an amazing transformation to watch as I visited him every weekend. And, and, and he had moved from air freight to sea freight to pricing to, to operations and how he, somehow that company had managed to get him really excited about it. Um, and it was also quite cool to be able to have conversations with your son, you know,
Speaker 2:
1:43
I'm finally, he understands what you're doing. Yeah,
Speaker 3:
1:49
I of course would render seriously disagree. That's a biting is not sexy, but I do understand that it's not seen as sexy. Uh, it's a, is a male dominated industry. Uh, in many companies, uh, supply chain is seen as the poor cousin. Uh, it doesn't include mine, but I know companies where it is, right? It's sort of sales is in the front of the front room and supply chain is in the back of the back room. Uh, it gets even worse when you call it shipping because now people assume you're either a truck driver or, or, or an onboard courier. Um, but if you, if you can really build stories, everything is about telling stories, isn't it? And you can build stories in your recruiting process around working globally, working across time zones, traveling, uh, uh, enabling global trade. Really. I mean, let's be honest, the supply chain builds globalization, not the other way around.
Speaker 3:
2:45
Right? Uh, we have stories to tell that we had terrible, et cetera. Uh, I had the same discussion at a big conference with a lot of shipping line CEOs in Copenhagen back in November. Uh, and they were saying the same thing. They were lamenting fact that they can't seem to tell the stories. [inaudible] uh, uh, ironically, even though the world has become more globalized, uh, a lot of three PLS and carriers have scaled back their education programs in there. And they used to expect physicians as a, as a way to build a, uh, experience and, and, and background in it. That's a crying shame, but also she's jumping and coming back to it now. Um,
Speaker 2:
3:29
yeah, I think you're, I mean, you're, you're, you're spot on with the comment. I mean, it's, it's, it is about the storytelling. And I was talking to another one of our clients was a very large, uh, whether they, they wanted the market leaders in three pillars space. And, um, and there were one of the, one of the board members of the same that he was even talking about presenting at a, at a university, and that the people didn't really know about the company. I'm like, yeah, but the issue, the fundamental issue is that there's not enough storytelling yet. There's not enough.
Speaker 3:
3:55
You can stand up whether with the slide deck at a recruitment process and, and start showing people, this is our revenue and this is how many containers remove. And this is, you know, how many planes every day into which gateway, eh, that's not, but I see that and recruiting and recruiting fairs, right, that people are literally like, just because we're big and we have pretty slides, you should come work for us in this industry that we know you're not really considering and were obviously not making a very good job of changing your mind. You need those stories. Right. Whether that's with videos, whether that's with bringing people out or really have amazing stories. So I've got it is not necessarily people like me. It can be people much further down on the totem pole who have gone through maybe living in a couple of countries and learning something and, and, and, and people who can tell the story. Yeah. Right. Um,
Speaker 2:
4:45
yeah, I think, I think the industry definitely needs more of that. I mean, I, there is hope I started with, you started to see some of that happening already. eCommerce is actually making supply chain. Exactly. Actually. [inaudible] it's equally interesting. How does that package get here? Exactly. Exactly. That.
Speaker 3:
5:01
And now, now, uh, I mean in some of the biggest players in any commerce, like the Amazons are of course also topping the list of companies that people want to work for. So there was a, a great possibilities instead of the story.
Speaker 2:
5:13
Yeah. I mean, even if you watch a new interview, you'll see that the, the, the videos with the, with eCommerce distributions and as they could they quite the quite, uh, yeah. So, um, yeah, hopefully soon, hopefully soon. Uh, now, but you know, back to yourself, I mean, you've been proudly working, I mean, I've known you for a while and I know that you're very proud to work for electric books and, and mean it. Um, what some of the values that this company stands for, the, that, you know, make you
Speaker 3:
5:40
probably to be, to come to work. Um, inclusion, diversity, uh, absolute, uh, emotions of giving people opportunities to develop, uh, and also make mistake. I mean, we are grounded in, in, in Sweden and Swedish, uh, philosophy around social values. Uh, sustainability is a religion for us and it's not a buzz word when we don't greenwash and stuff. We really are walking the talk. And that counts a lot for me in counseling a lot for the people who, who will work with us. So with sustainability, it's not just about carbon footprint. Sustainability is also about, uh, corporate social responsibility. It's about, uh, sustainable hiring practices, training practices. It's, it's those sort of soft Scandinavian values that, uh, that, uh, that really define us. Um, but that doesn't mean that we all have to be Scandinavian, right? They were one of the, one of the coolest things I think I've experienced in the 13 years that I've worked here is, uh, I claim that I speak Swedish. Uh, I know many sweets. It wouldn't totally agree, uh, but somehow I can manage to make myself understood. That came in super handy 13 years ago when I started traveling to our head office and start calling because it was all Swedish. Every meeting was in Swedish. Everyone who was anyone was Swedish, give or take two or three people. Uh, today, 13 years later, there are 60 plus, I believe in 62 nationalities working in that same office. Uh, and I can't remember the last time I conducted a meeting in Swedish and stop on.
Speaker 2:
7:31
That's what you guys were just very grateful. So you know that, but that also should be [inaudible]
Speaker 3:
7:38
the volumes around the company's value and say that in terms of giving people opportunity. Yeah, we're not a big expat company. We don't have thousands and thousands of expatriates and we nearly always have local management and regional engagement that, that are from the regions of the countries where they come from. But we do believe in giving people the opportunity to travel around and live in different countries if they're prepared to do so, of course. So on, on their own, we will help them. But, but we, we don't ship thousands of thousands expats years around what we give people.
Speaker 2:
8:08
Okay. So, and then moving to that, uh, question regarding, um, skills and lacking him or maybe a skills that are lacking in supply chains right now. I mean, do you find that, do you find a certain specific skill that is, is very difficult to find?
Speaker 3:
8:23
Um,
Speaker 2:
8:25
if I were a a on, on the,
Speaker 3:
8:27
on the supply side, I would say a skilled key account management and skilled operators are very hard to find in my experience. Uh, it's a really a mixed, a mixed bunch of people that, that, that you interact with, uh, on, on our own side. I think once again, you know, hate to sound like a broken, but expertise in e-commerce, right on the operational side, the it side I think is, is paradoxically not that difficult because you got really well insurance platforms. Um, but the eCommerce operations is going to be a skill that's going to be an unfair, that high demand network design, uh, last month delivery design, uh, people with those backgrounds don't grow in trees. And I'm glad I'm not the one who has to go out and try and find them.
Speaker 2:
9:27
No, but I mean it's, it's actually, I guess the, the, the point and we, the companies are coming to us a lot around, okay, can we help them find, you know, e-commerce done. So it's a common problem that you, you've just shared. Um, and I guess it's just a reality. I mean, companies need to think, how do we train and how do we, because you can't find them. This, I mean Nicole [inaudible]
Speaker 3:
9:49
no, you've just turned them into the most valuable property around concerns in terms of skilled employees. Right. But that, but then, you know, that old saying, what if we train our people and they leave and then the CFO says, what did we don't train them and they stay.
Speaker 2:
10:01
Exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I think I love the way you region, uh, Branson, I think he said it, that, uh, train your, your people well enough that they can leave, treat them well or well enough that they weren't super. And, uh, I mean nowadays we, we, we all, there's a lot of hype and talk, you know, chief supply chain officer. Uh, okay, maybe, maybe it's a bit of a fleshy title, but there is a reality that this type of, uh, uh, scopes need to be more and more prevalent. But what more importantly, uh, to me and I think to our audiences that it was the, what do you think is the right mindset that as a chief supply chain officer of a company you should have?
Speaker 3:
10:46
Um, I think, I wouldn't, we talked about it before. You know, obviously I'm not a chief supply chain officer and that never will be one, at least not in electronics. We don't have on and I don't think we'll have on them.
Speaker 2:
10:55
I ain't never know. Yeah.
Speaker 3:
10:59
If, if I were a chief supply chain officer and I wasn't spending every waking moment of the day thinking about digitalization, I think, I think I would do the company by retiring. [inaudible] it's digital. I said you have to live and breathe digitalization, e-commerce, not just the utilization in terms of, uh, you know, let's, let's use a digitalization for internal communication. It's really about how do you, the whole spectrum of, of digital tools that are available and the whole spectrum wealth of your digital footprint as a company. And then there's this question later on, social media as well. And how do you use that? Trust me as uses in supply chain as well. Uh, if you, digitalization is going to transform your company and you're going to lead it, yeah. That, so you better be sure that you're equipped to lead that transformation, that you make it your business to never stop learning, never stop inquiring, never start reaching outside your own company to, to, uh, to gain new impulses and impressions. Uh, you don't have to be a chief supply chain officer to do that. I do that. Uh, all my peers in other similar companies, we all do that. Uh, that's the mindset right now. Yeah. If your mindset is not razor sharp and honed straight onto digitalization, then you are going to have a problem.
Speaker 2:
12:29
Yeah. Yeah. No, absolutely. Um, when you hire your global leadership team, what are some of the qualities that you're looking for?
Speaker 3:
12:39
Well, you looked for, it's a, is always about a fit. It's always about cultural fit to begin with, right? You have to have the background right? If you're going to be hired as an engineer, as an electrical engineer, you better have an electrical engineering degree. If you're going to be hired in leadership, in logistics, you better have the requisite experience. But I think that's, you know, use that phrase a lot is the price of entry, right? So, okay, take that box. We've done that. The qualifications are there. Now it's going to be all about fit, right? Fit doesn't mean that you need to be a robot. We, I'd hate to think that we all would all be the same, right? Uh, but you have to be prepared to live and embody and projected the values of the company, uh, that, that you worked for, including ours.
Speaker 3:
13:26
And that's huge. I mean, every recruitment I've ever been involved in and for that matter, when I myself was recruited, it starts with that is really what you're trying to figure out. Is there a cultural fit here? By cultural, I don't mean, you know, ethnicity or nationality. Is there a cultural fit in terms of, do we think this person already embodies and lives and can demonstrate that he or she has lived and taught those values? Uh, now we're in business, right? So background is a given. You gotta have whatever qualifications you need to have for the job we need to experience, but we want to know are you going to fit in here? Right. That doesn't mean you can't be wrong cause me, you can't have edges, right. Uh, that you can't be perfectly. Sometimes you can, but you gotta be able to fit in. Yeah. Cause otherwise the system will eat you up and spit you out. Yeah. Right. And I don't think that's any different from any other company. Uh, assistant companies have different cultures, but there's always going to be about the fit. Yeah. And actually, I mean, once we've gotten past the hurdle of the qualification,
Speaker 2:
14:32
yeah. I mean, and typically it typically it's about, I mean, not typically all, all the time it's about the soft skills because the hard skills typically is a given. Um, and, and let's talk about, I mean actually people that, uh, that lead teams within your team, right? So what's, I mean, what's the leadership? How can you tell if a, if a person is, isn't fit for a leader ship role or not? I mean, what does that mean? Some of the cues you need Cheryl and recruitment, then you have [inaudible]
Speaker 3:
14:57
a rich source of, uh, of, of, uh, of, uh, of data on that person. Right. You can speak to their previous managers, you can speak to, then you can, you can look at the work they'd done before you could speak to their colleagues. I'm much more interested if it's a leadership role. I'm much more interested in talking to the neat little worked for that person than I am in that person telling me how she, you know, did all these amazing things. Uh, so it'd be like reference checking if you do it all the time, but you doing it for a living that, uh, that, uh, that's if it's an internal, but even if an external recruitment, uh, of course, yeah, sure. During the interview process, you're going to have to say, Oh, tell me about three wonderful things you did. And, and, uh, what do you think about, you know, soft skills and people and culture? Where does that rank with you? But ultimately you're gonna have to go and find some people, preferably who worked for these people and ask them what they think. Right.
Speaker 2:
15:55
And yeah, I mean, even in, in, in our business, in executive search, I mean, always the candidate will provide the referees of course. But, uh, of course nobody will give referee note, don't [inaudible]. Exactly. So I mean, it's always on and make it the, we make it the case too. And of course, the, luckily where we're well connected enough to, to get unofficial reference. She had, I had, I had yesterday to help
Speaker 3:
16:19
a friend of mine who has my job and now in a company that's even launches and I was to do exactly that. He called off. He said, I'm hiring a person. I'm looking at this, uh, this girl, and she seems to, to be ticking all the boxes. Uh, do you know, or do you know anyone who might have known her? And as it happened that day and I looked him up and I don't know how it went, something like the problem, but yeah. You know, I think leveraging your network as well as these days is enormously, enormously important.
Speaker 2:
16:45
Back to the, you know, it's important to have visibility in supply chain [inaudible] from everything. This is the end of part two. Stay tuned for part three. When we dig deeper in personal habits and success stories.
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