The Business Year

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UAE - Transport

Thorsten Pook

Managing Director Middle East, CEVA Logistics

Bio

Thorsten Pook started his career in the logistics industry in Germany back in 1992 and he has since held multiple leadership roles across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Since his joining CEVA Logistics Middle East in 2020, Pook has led business restructuring in the region in an effort to deliver responsive logistics for CEVA customers. He has successfully managed to implement the Middle East business strategy that positioned CEVA Logistics as one of the top regional players in the industry, and he has driven the regional business to deliver YoY growth. With his extensive industry knowledge, Pook plays a key role in creating the roadmap for the future of CEVA Logistics Middle East.

"We have had a positive transformation in the last two to three years, and we are confident in our ability to become a top-five global player in the logistics industry."

Thorsten Pook, Managing Director Middle East at CEVA Logistics, talks to TBY about developments since IPO in 2018, sustainability, and working with Scuderia Ferrari.

How has CEVA Logistics’ business transformed since its IPO in 2018?

The real transformation began in 2019, when CEVA Logistics was acquired by the CMA CGM Group and embarked on a great journey. We were facing significant challenges, but through organic growth and strategic acquisitions, we have been able turn the tables and establish ourselves as a leading global and regional logistics service providers It has been only two to three years since we emerged from this transformation, and globally the company has grown to more than 110,000 people in more than 170 countries. In the Middle East and Africa region, we have expanded geographically as well as through strategic M&As, and we now manage well over 2,000 people in the region.

What are the company’s main strategies to tackle unpredictable global trends in the logistics sector?

If we have learned anything in the last two to three years, it is that we need to be more agile and flexible and to reflect on how we react to unforeseeable events. I have been in the industry for more than 30 years, and everyone knows the seasonality of the business and the challenges they face; however, at the start of the pandemic, we learned that the supply chain is the bloodline of any functional trade environment. Hence, it is a key pillar of an efficient global economy. Because of events like the Suez Canal blockage, COVID-19, and geopolitical tensions, everyone has realized the importance of global and local supply chains. We understand the importance of being agile and prepared to act swiftly to ensure our customers’ cargo flows seamlessly from origin to destination. In summary, we must be ready to react much faster and more flexibly in the future because we have witnessed that when supply chain disruptions emerge, they can advance at unprecedented speeds.

CEVA Logistics is committed to sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint. What tools does it use to measure and minimize the company’s environmental impact?

Sustainability comes from a sense of responsibility. However, we have to create transparency first. If we do not measure our operations, we cannot know how to improve it. We have to help our customers make informed decisions. We do not own the aircraft or the vessels; however, we have to provide our customers with the information to make the right choice. We have, for example, an eco-calculator so every customer can find out how much CO2 emissions a shipment makes and their carbon footprint. This is all part of the initiative to offset our emissions and be carbon neutral by 2050 at the latest. We also work with vendors and suppliers who share our values, and this is one of our ways to push the drive for a more sustainable supply chain.

Scuderia Ferrari has chosen CEVA Logistics as its official logistics partner under a multi-year agreement to support its racing activities. What are the advantages of this partnership?

It is a global partnership, and CEVA Logistics is now a key partner of the Formula One Ferrari team. We believe the supply chain in the Formula One team has a great deal in common with CEVA Logistics. It is all about teamwork. You need a strong driver, though if the team does not perform well in the pit, even the best driver cannot win races. We are extremely proud to be affiliated with Ferrari. It gives us great recognition, though, more importantly, it also underlines the key trends and operational excellence we want to bring to global and local supply chains.

Can you elaborate more on CEVA’s acquisition of GEFCO and how this contributes to the business?

Our growth strategy is based on organic and strategic positions. CEVA Logistics had several other acquisitions in 2022, and GEFCO was certainly an important one. As we speak, we are undergoing integration and are welcoming 12,000 new colleagues to CEVA. That is a massive integration globally. The acquisition will help us achieve our ambition of becoming a top-five global player.

What is your overview of the gap in the logistics sector in the UAE?

If we look at a basic view of the industry, there are things that need to be brought in; the question is how do we bring in these missing pieces? You need digitalization, information, and transparency, especially during supply chain interruptions, so that customers can track a shipment. They want to know where their shipment is, when they can expect it, and, if there is an interruption, what our plan is. As an example, an oceanic shipment has 26 touch points where either we, our vendors, or suppliers are involved, and we need to create this visibility for each and every one of these touch points. That has to do with digitalization, namely getting the right information at the right time. Geography is important for us. Africa and South America are extremely strong growth markets, so we have actively worked on building up our network in those geographies. In the Middle East and Africa, we have opened a direct present in 25+ countries over the course of the past two years. Our approach is to keep a close eye on developments in the industry and act strategically. These trends are fluctuating and changing much faster than expected, and we need to be agile and adjust as quickly as possible. The 110,000 employees of CEVA are a great team. We have had a positive transformation in the last two to three years, and we are confident in our ability to become a top-five global player in the logistics industry.

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