Nieuwjaarsbrief Rob Harrison (CEO DP World Antwerp)

Dagelijks brengt Flows een professionele nieuwjaarsbrief. Daarin kijkt de auteur uit ons vakgebied naar 2017 en 2018. Vandaag leest u de brief, in zijn moedertaal, van Rob Harrison, CEO van DP World Antwerp.

Leadership for a Win-Win-Win 2018

Dear Flows Reader,

It is rare over recent years to be able to look towards an approaching new year with a certain amount of optimism. An optimism driven of the understanding that Antwerp has cemented its value proposition as a Port, based on a mix of the nautical accessibility, value for money stevedoring and proximity of massive logistic capabilities servicing the European market.

These fundamental advantages of Antwerp need protecting and developing and to this objective I see many positive developments across the Port community. There is the emergence of an Antwerp Inc. mindset where the broader Port community recognizes that collaboration can create Win-Win-Win scenarios. The transition to new leadership among many of the key Port players along with the move towards more coordinated and aligned business representation platforms (in the form of Alfaport-Voka) have been key in this. Real opportunities are emerging and I hope that collaborative initiatives such as Night Opening, NxtPort, EU Ingebrekestelling process, etc continue into 2018. We need to protect against the old management style of Win-Loose and ensure that we embrace the next generation of leadership where Win-Win-Win will drive behavior.

The universal truth still holds that the Customer is King and for 2018 we will see a need for all stakeholders in the Port to show the necessary leadership we aspire towards: As the Shipping Line Alliances evolve and they bring ever bigger vessels into Antwerp we will need decisive leadership to ensure we can maintain our ability to service these ever-increasing volumes and peaks across the entire Port of Antwerp Platform.

Number one of my New Year’s list is ensuring the capability and capacity to service the new large 22,000+ TEU vessels which will require courageous leadership to commit to the future with sufficient dockers and available equipment to perform the tasks necessary at the time requested. Constraints experienced over the past summer cannot recur in 2018 and all efforts must be mobilized to ensure we are adequately resourced and if not then Plan B’s must be executed early in the new year. Experiencing the same issues in summer 2018 will not be acceptable to our Customers.

Secondly and within the context of the mobility constraints all players can and will of course point to political stalemates but there is still much that can be done in the context of reviewing existing processes. Only sitting on the sidelines and publicly criticizing government is easy but what we should aspire for is a change is how we deliver our services, changing how we work. Looking at the 2 areas of available capacity in the port mobility arena I plead with all players to review their PROCESSES to use the road in the off-peak night hours and to fully explore the rail options – both of these are in ample supply but need a full review on internal micro level processes to be exploited to their full. It will also mostly require that players need to look outside of their own locus of control to find solutions. This, by definition, means CHANGE and specifically Change Leadership.

As essential as these precious fundamentals are, they are however at risk of being eroded by local political inertia and posturing and the propagation of fear based nationalism more broadly across the entire Europe. Final on my wish list is that Politicians make decisions, they need to have the courage to exercise their mandates to be leaders of society and actually lead by making decisions. Uncertainty by procrastination in a competitive arena is fatal and I only hope that 2018 will be a year for decisive political leadership. We need to hold sacred the principle of an open society. One where not only are we able to enjoy the benefits of trade but also one which allows the real grass root ability to attract the essential human resources needed to fuel capacity. Therefore, we need real leadership now! Populist fear mongering is short sighted and will in the long run starve a society of necessary resources and infrastructural programs to function and trade. Practically this means that we need a decision on the Complex Project - ECA yesterday to give all players, both local and international, certainty to plan.  We need politicians to have the courage to see through and not engage in the fear based populism evident today and to protect the EU experiment and its basic principles. 

In all we have seen a fundamental change in the role of Antwerp which was validated in 2017 and we are now firmly in the Champions League. My sincere wish and hope for 2018 is that we all continue to play in this top echelon of global Ports but we must in 2018 show the leadership necessary to keep us there for the next 50 years.

Rob Harrison