Patrick van Ulft

Be patient, have faith in yourself and success will follow

When I opted for my education at the Transport Academy in Venlo in 1999, I had no ambition to enter the transport industry. Where a majority of my classmates gazed at DAF, Scania or Volvo trucks and had lively discussions about them, my interests lay in logistics, warehousing, waiting time theories, etc.

This changed when I started my graduation internship at Catom PDM in Breda. They supplied unmanned fuel stations and my job was to find a process and system that would ensure that this was done by the tankers in the most efficient way. This includes the maximum permitted amount of fuel per station, purchase quantities and location of the pumps (different rules and restrictions apply in a residential area than next to a motorway). My interest in transport was aroused and I liked it too. I graduated and was able to look for a job. Still with a preference for logistics, but I was now open to transport.

Registered at Via Logistics, I was invited for interviews at Océ and Frans Maas for the position of Logistics Engineer. As a recent graduate, I was considered unexperienced for both positions. Eventually I was called that they also had a vacancy as a Customer Service Employee at DFDS Transport (after a name change in 2007, this company is called DSV). I was interviewed by Raf van der Steen who is still working at DSV in the Business Change Management department. So very briefly, I also owe my current position to Raf.

After starting in August 2002 as a Customer Service Employee for our customer Harman, I was given the opportunity to become Department Manager of the same department two years later. My first step as a manager. And they say after you graduate that you are a Logistics Manager, but I can tell you, you may be a manager on paper, but you learn real leadership in practice. Dealing with people, with situations, developing them and staying close to yourself. What helped me with this is reading many books by Kenneth Blanchard. Especially for people who want to be a leader, an absolute must.

I was ambitious, wanted more and more. I was regularly told, have patience, your time will come. And of course, I was also looking for other jobs at the time, but if you are at a company that suits you in terms of culture, then you still give that company the first chance. Likewise when in 2005 something was about to happen and "that will give you enough challenge" I was told. I just had to trust that it was.

And it was a challenge for me, in 2006 Frans Maas was taken over and I became responsible for DSV's Key Accounts department. I had to merge three departments of Frans Maas and one of DFDS. I also immediately became a member of the Management Team. There you are, 28 years young, you have taken the first steps in the managerial profession and then you are suddenly given the task of turning four departments of two companies - with fifty employees and two cultures - into one department. Colleagues who were mostly older, had more experience, were sceptical and you name it. It was hard and a lot of work, but it has been a great learning experience for me. And the fact that I have benefited from it, through trial and error, is also due to the trust you get in return. From the employees, the MT members and of course your manager.

After three years in this position, I joined Sales & Marketing. Also a new dimension, because I did not see myself as a salesman. And I had no knowledge of marketing, it was the better copy and paste work that we did. I had to make sales plans and ensure that we would bring in more customers. By constantly being curious about new things and the drive to want to know everything, I have also mastered sales. I benefit from this each day.

In 2011, I was asked by then Managing Director, Brian Ejsing (now CEO of DSV Solutions) to take care of all support services and to achieve synergies. A fun challenge. New fields such as IT, quality, invoicing and administrative processes with which I further expanded my knowledge and skills.

Finally, in 2015, I got the opportunity to participate in the Top Talent Program of DSV Road with the clear goal of fulfilling the position of Managing Director somewhere in DSV. I participated in this program together with seven colleagues from different countries. A predecessor of the current Leadership Training courses that are given on personal development, leadership, strategies, etc. During this program I was asked if I was interested in becoming Managing Director of DSV Road in the Netherlands.

I can still remember very well that Luk Thieuw (then Managing Director of DSV Road) called me to his office and completely surprised me with this news. I just had to convince Søren Schmidt (CEO of DSV Road) that I had the right plan to change course within DSV Road so that we could be profitable again. In a week's time I wrote my plan, presented it to Søren and convinced him so that on January 6, 2016 I was appointed Managing Director of DSV Road in the Netherlands.

I was very proud then and still am, to be a born and raised native of Venlo at the helm of this great company in the logistics hotspot of Europe.

In the time when I was not yet a Managing Director I have often said, we are a giant that needs to be awakened. Now, in my fifth year as Managing Director, I can proudly say that we have woken up nicely and show the great things we can do together. And this is just the beginning ...