How did you get into the industry itself?
Ahhh my plan was a career in journalism but a friend mentioned that a decent stop gap would be in cargo. I couldn’t ever get out again!
How did your role at NNR come about or evolve?
I joined 13 years ago to head-up UK sales, then progressed to General Manager to consolidate departments and drive NNR’s expansion to the next level. I was rewarded with a Directorship in 2011. Since then we have gone from strength to strength, we are double the size now and I’m proud of our achievements, considering our growth is always purely organic.
To what extent is NNR Global Logistics a 360-degree logistics service? Do you work extensively with forwarders or other suppliers?
The best value with NNR is in complex solutions that require fully managed multi-faceted solutions. To be a successful 4PL you need to collaborate with other partners and be totally transparent about that. In the old days it was called Freight Forwarding; modern times it’s similar but robustly joined together by a sophisticated IT platform that delivers metrics for optimization and continual improvement.
How do you make strategic decisions? What’s your method?
Everything NNR does is very well thought out. A notion is tabled and assessed for value; be it corporate value or financial. Once agreed we assess the investment required and rigorously Q&A test for durability, sustainability and Return On Investment potential. We subscribe to Kaizen; continual incremental improvement and I am personally, very careful and pragmatic by nature. We have the support of hundreds of years of intelligence within our group and so we very rarely get it wrong.
Does Japanese culture have much influence on NNR?
Yes most definitely. It’s absolutely the best thing. We are so focused on fine detail, manners and accountability. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Asia and the more time you spend in Japan, the more you realise how much the West can learn from the East. The Japanese culture is a perfect complement to the Western style. That’s where the magic is!
How does this translate to NNR’s trade in a global market?
NNR has operations all over the world and recognise that one size doesn’t fit all, therefore the group has been transforming over the past decade and localising the management structures throughout the NNR global network. The attention to detail required helps us to understand an opportunity and apply our strengths accordingly. This gives us the ability to deploy what’s suitable in the local environment – but with strict compliance controls.
Have the cultural roots of the company affected your work ethic or work/life balance?
YES and NO! I take after my father in that I’m a bit of a workaholic. Apparently that’s the trait of a perfectionist and that cap certainly fits. I’ve always worked long hours but my family are amazing and we’re a really close-knit bunch so they accept that I travel a fair amount. I must have flown around 50 times or more already this year.
The whole company ethos fits with my own ‘give first, take second’ ideology; my kids all grew up knowing this would give them the skills required to navigate through life and be successful. But weekends are precious and that’s full-on family time. In need to spend more time at home, as my dad often said.
How much autonomy does NNR Global Logistics have within the group?
NNR Global Logistics have become a large part of the group. When I joined Global Logistics was around 10% of the group, the big divisions being Bus, Train, Hotels and Retail. These days we are just about the largest division. Within NNR Global Logistics, we have a fairly free hand here. We are trusted. Big decisions have to be endorsed by HQ naturally.
As a Brit working for a Japanese company, what are your view on Brexit? Do you think the UK and Japan will emerge as stronger trade partners?
I was raised to understand that being British was about a stiff upper lip and determination to succeed, expecting nothing for free; so I’m OK with it personally.
If the UK is not able to at least replicate any EU trade agreement with Japan after Brexit, it would naturally be detrimental to our trade with Japan. However Japan and the United Kingdom have had a trade alliance for well over 100 years and are therefore historically strong partners. I can’t envisage a dramatic change in the short-term as everyone treads carefully.
If you could change anything about the industry as a whole, what would it be?
For starters, I’d have more people selling value rather than cheap nonsense. The major disappointment is that there is so much disgruntlement in the industry, caused by artificially low pricing that destroys service. Yet people keep buying it. It always strikes me that an individual wouldn’t buy £5 shoes for themselves but they would for their company. When the shoes fall apart, they blame the shoe shop and replace them with £5 shoes; Amazing.
I’d apply far more automation too and hook more into IoT. NNR is ready, but honestly, many carrier partners are not but it’s like the Emperor’s new clothes, nobody wants to say it first. Did I just do that?