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How Vopak’s Talent Director develops leaders for a global supply chain

How Vopak’s Talent Director develops leaders for a global supply chain

Written by:
Gregor Towers
Reviewed by :
Date created
February 19, 2024
Last updated:
June 20, 2024
5 min read
Leadership development and succession planning in the logistics industry with Vopak
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Key takeaways

• Vopak values people, teamwork, and invests in global teams.

• Talent directors monitor development and career potential to avoid disruptions in global supply chains.

• Focus on developing internal talent for senior leadership roles to avoid expensive hires.

• Vopak invests in one-on-one development and internal networking for career growth.

• Upskilling programs focus on safety, sustainability, data-driven operations, and renewable energy to keep up with industry changes.

When I do my interviews about our employee value proposition around the world and see our annual turnover rate at 3.5%, this is what comes back: We care for people. We value teamwork. We invest in global teams.

Talent directors constantly monitor their people’s development and career potential. Especially in global supply chains, they have to anticipate vacancies and be ready to hire from the labor market or promote internal talent to avoid disruption. 

However, finding the right people for senior leadership roles brings more pressure. Managing key business units for storage or shipping, their management influences transformation strategies, logistics operations and global teams.

When a senior manager leaves, where does their successor come from? How can talent directors avoid hiring expensive senior talent and develop future leaders from within their logistics company? 

Leadership succession planning in the logistics industry

Maarten Vaags, Global Talent Director at Vopak, oversees the career development of senior leaders who manage a combined nine business units and 72 energy storage facilities around the world. 

With high safety and customer satisfaction standards, Lepaya sat down with Maarten to discuss how Vopak develops the right leaders for their global storage units. 

How does Vopak retain their people on a global scale?

“We have nine business units around the world - each in different geographical areas - and they have their HR directors. 

When it comes to talent management and succession planning, they don’t report to me hierarchically, but functionally. I constantly monitor the top 150 managers in Vopak and I reach out very frequently to talk about the strategic critical roles. 

Are our people still in a good position? What about their potential to grow? If yes, what could be a logical next step and is there any pressure on that? Because we consider it a retention risk.

That’s why I invest a lot of time into one-on-one development to set goals for the next step and foster internal networking.”

What type of career and leadership development does Vopak offer their people? 

“When it comes to senior leadership, my biggest challenge is to create development programs that address the difficulties of a senior manager. You have more stakeholders from different business networks and they need to manage complex projects.

For us as a smaller company, we are capable of bridging silos. When I hire people from big corporates on a senior level, it’s challenging because their careers are mostly dedicated to silo’s like operations or Business Development (BD). We like the more rounded, agile profiles because we can’t offer careers in a specific discipline for a large group of people. 

I have a lot of technical staff, but not a lot of senior leadership roles for them. However, I have a lot more BD managerial positions. There’s a constant challenge to provide career mobility but also a benefit for working at our company - if you’re a technical person and you’d like to broaden your career to a managerial role in another domain, join us.”

Where does Vopak focus their upskilling programs and why?

“First of all, we need to operate terminals in the best way possible, so we constantly upskill our people and leaders. How can we work more safely and sustainably, more efficiently, more data-driven and more automated? 

Second, we always look to develop data savvy people and not only in our headquarters, but also people in operations and maintenance at our terminals.

The last one is a major one. We are upskilling our people in the domain of renewable energy. When it comes to hydrogen, ammonia and long duration energy storage, these are domains with a lot of new technologies, uncertainties and market dynamics which we need to keep monitoring."

People’s development keeps Vopak growing in a global supply chain

With 72 global storage facilities and renewable energies changing the sector, any disruption has a deep impact on the Vopak’s people and their enterprise. 

But Vopak’s growth isn’t only defined by the global supply chain or energy transformation. With continuous development, succession planning and reskilling for the future of work, Vopak can keep their business growing globally and their talent taking the next steps in their careers.

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About Lepaya

Lepaya is a provider of Power Skills training that combines online and offline learning. Founded by René Janssen and Peter Kuperus in 2018 with the perspective that the right training, at the right time, focused on the right skill, makes organizations more productive. Lepaya has trained thousands of employees.

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