Herman Huijgens

As long as you always stay close to yourself

It was September 1992, just after the completion of the building at Donker Duyvisweg 70 in Dordrecht, that Herman Huijgens started at the age of twenty-four as Inside Sales at Frans Maas / BVT (now DSV).

A period that was preceded by education at HAVO and, as Herman himself says, "I didn't know what I wanted to do so I thought I would work in the port of Rotterdam." While he thought he was going to drive a forklift and all that, it turned out that he had enrolled in the wrong education, namely a freight forwarder. It was then called the Port and Transport School Jan Backx, now Shipping and Transport College, which was a combination of working and learning. At the time, he did four of the five internships at DB Schenker, each time in a different department. They liked it, but Herman certainly did too. He learned a lot, but now it was time to grow into his first real job.

Do you know what I mean?

His first job was as a Freight Forwarder at Panalpina in the Waalhaven in Rotterdam, where he had a great time. Until the office had to be moved to Amsterdam, which meant more travel time, after which, after a phone call from his former sales manager who already worked at Frans Maas, he switched to Frans Maas as Inside Sales. Making appointments for the field service all day long and constantly making quotes which he liked but he wanted to go back to the operations. Even more customer contact and handling all files where he grew to Manager Import and Export at the USA-department to grow to Operations Manager. A wonderful position, but then DFDS came in 2006 and a great development started for him. One day he was called into the office of Edwin Koopman (then Managing Director) and asked if he wanted to become Branch Manager of the DFDS office in Dordrecht? As the contact between him and the colleagues on the floor felt and still feels good, he grew naturally towards this new challenge.

Because if you can explain what you mean, communicate it well with respect for each other's points of view and dare to make decisions, then everyone knows where they stand, and you do it together.


Dealing with people can’t be learned from a book

Herman is by nature good with people, which has always been the key to his functioning. Back in 2006 he did not have a HR Manager in Dordrecht, for example. That was a role he himself performed as a Branch Manager as part of his responsibility. A role that naturally suits him well. So either you look for the right people to do it for you, but as long as you do it from your own nature, you can do it yourself.

He has learned something different from all the various Managing Directors with whom Herman has worked over the years. One more operational, the other more strategic, but they all taught him to work hard with an eye for people. He passes on these experiences to his teams, averse to politics, but finds casualness and humour extremely important. He always wants to fully value his teams in order to allow them to function and perform optimally. Or as he says himself: 

They don't get smarter from a tie. Use a tie functionally when you need it, but be yourself.

Herman has now been Managing Director of DSV Air & Sea Netherlands for over a year following the acquisition of Panalpina. A position in which he succeeded Frank Sobotka. Together with his teams and the many new colleagues, Herman continues to build the development of the company through hard and good work every day after 28 years with just as much fun as on the first day. And of course, we make mistakes, but we solve them. Just to be and stay the best together.