More than shoving boxes around

Logistics is more than shoving boxes around. This is something Tomas Tempelaars found out a long time ago. He graduated in 2010 and is commercial director of the Move Intermodal Group in Belgium.

Logistics is more than shoving boxes around. This is something Tomas Tempelaars found out a long time ago. In 2010 he graduated from BUas with a degree in Logistics Engineering and he is currently the commercial director of the Move Intermodal Group. Based in Genk, Belgium.

'I am a bit of an atypical commercial director, because I look at everything with a logistical eye. Wearing my engineering hat I coordinate sales and ensure that everything is optimised as much as possible. It is very simple; a shipping container has to go back and forth. If it does not come back, you are not making a profit. I also wear a coach's hat, because I want to coach my team of 15 commercial staff members in the best possible way.'

To me optimisation is not just about being fast and affordable, but also very much in being as sustainable as possible

Tomas Tempelaars, graduated in Logistics Engineering

Customers appreciate transparency

'To me this optimisation is not just about being fast and affordable, but also very much in being as sustainable as possible. It is important to me to be able to convince as many potential customers of this as possible. Railway transportation is our core business; it is a good alternative for road transportation. Sometimes something does not go according to plan, and that is fine. As long as you keep thinking from the customer's perspective and communicate in a clear and timely fashion. Customers value this transparency.'

Show that things can be done in a smarter way

'My priority is to coach my team well. From experience I know how important coaching is. I started out as a Management Trainee and for two years I looked around in all the departments and also worked alongside with them. The company challenged me to especially look at all processes with my fresh theoretical perspective. You are in the middle of every-day business, you see what happens and by asking simple questions you show that things can be done in a smarter way.

See beyond your own realm of influence

'My background from the Logistics Engineering programme, especially the experience gained during the work placements, and the coaching I received there, really helped me in the Traineeship. There I learned to look at the entire chain. As a cog in the bigger part you, as a company, have to be able to see beyond your own realm of influence. After my Traineeship I have inventoried processes in the Business Support Team and selected and set-up a new transport management system which eventually went live.'

The effect of the corona virus

'After two years I took on the position of commercial director. Of course corona had an impact on business, but it is only marginal. The borders were never shut for railway transportation, so our work continued as usual. Our drivers only have local rides, they load and unload and obviously follow all directives. Because the distances the drivers cover are limited, the risk of spreading the virus has been limited.'

People business

'And communication remains important, also in these special corona times. Our customers tell us that we communicate in a timely manner, that we clearly indicate what is possible and what is not. This way we build trust. Indispensable in this business, because in the end it is also just about people. That is why people skills are so important. If you choose this programme and this business then it is not just about the hard numbers and technology.'

Actively building a network

'A few times I have given a guest lecture at BUas and in those I always emphasised those people skills. But also the importance of networking. Theoretical knowledge is absolutely important. It is your foundation. But matched with a solid network it is ten times more valuable. Therefore I always advise students to actively start building a network as early as possible. I also did this myself by joining 'Jong Logistiek Nederland', an organisation for young people in logistics in The Netherlands, where I held a position on the board for three years.'

It has benefited me a lot

'What also helped me is my involvement in EVO. This is a logistics interest group. EVO has a programme which links students to businesses and which facilitates graduates with workshops, amongst other things. After my gradation placement at Océ in Venlo I took part in this programme. The selection process was quite tough with a psychological test and a motivation test, but it has benefited me a lot!'