The Holland Flower Alliance: Leadership team gets freshened up

The Holland Flower Alliance’s (HFA) leadership team has gained new blood after KLM Cargo’s alliance member Wico Santbulte, who has played a key role in its development retired.

Wico has left his role as Director Cargo Development of KLM Cargo, and was part of the HFA since the launch in 2016, but has ended his distinguished career with the airline.

Replacing Wico on the HFA team is Frederik van de Ven, who is Project Manager to the EVP Cargo of KLM Cargo and has a background in working with the entire supply chain.

In two Q&As, we say goodbye to Wico and ask him what he has enjoyed at the HFA and welcome Frederik to find out what he is looking forward to.

Q) How much have you enjoyed being at the forefront of the HFA?

There are two main things. Firstly, I have really enjoyed it as it has been great to get really involved in the flower industry, as often in the airline industry we do not get heavily involved with a particular market in terms of the entire supply chain. At the HFA we discuss the complete supply chain and by being part of it, you get a deep understanding of the flower market.

Through the HFA I have got to know a lot about the flower trade and different parts of the chain including the growers, auctioneers, and others, so it has been nice to get more in-depth insight into what we do at KLM.

Secondly, it has been great to see the beauty of flowers, and it has been a real pleasure to attend auctions and trade fairs. It is a beautiful sight and it smells nice. Being part of the HFA has given me the opportunity to really see all the different aspects of the flower market and from a very close perspective.

Q) What have been the biggest achievements during your time at the HFA?

I think during my time at the HFA since 2016 when we started, is that we have made progress in two particular areas.

Firstly, we have built the first version of a software tool which is able to combine particular information from the growers and traders side with that of the transporting parties. We are close to having the first version which will mean that a flower trader will know where his box is in the chain, that is very exciting.

Secondly, we have been introducing a new packaging concept and that is actually in the flower farms in Kenya. The Ideal Flowerbox as it is called combines what we are doing. We have tested the packaging and it has been very successful thus far. It has meant better use of the available space on an aircraft when it comes to flowers with up to 15% improvement. The packaging concept also means less waste and less flowers are damaged. There is a lot to gain from this concept.

We have had positive feedback in Kenya about the packaging from the growers’ and we are scaling it up for the coming year.

Q) What difference has the HFA made to the flower transportation supply chain?

I think that the HFA has made a difference and what is underlying this is we have succeeded in building trust between different parts of the flower transportation supply chain.

This has included the packaging concept for example, which was designed in a form of co-creation, where we got a solution decided quickly, meaning it did not drag on and there are other areas too. Together, members of the HFA came up with the solution and worked on it. The role of the HFA was to stimulate and facilitate and that is the kind of role we want to see.

I am very proud that we have gained the trust of different parts of the supply chain to get something done as collaborating is the only way to go further. We also gained trust within our own companies as well, when it comes to flying flowers.

Our members have all engaged and invested in the initiative. The air cargo industry is especially challenging as it can be a bit hasty.

I think the HFA has made a difference by making the flower transportation chain more sustainable through the initiatives that are being run and to help grow and develop the flower market.

Q) What will you miss most when you leave the HFA?

I will miss the excitement of exploration and the opportunity to look at the supply chain to make change happen and I will miss the challenge.

Different parts of the supply chain always have their own interests and they are usually not synchronised, but if you want to get change then it takes trust which has to be built and this takes time. Collaborating is a real challenge and also to create a roadmap to progress things further.

I will miss solving pieces of the puzzle in the flower transportation chain as it is very exciting, and we have a really nice team. I will miss the inspirations and humour of the HFA team.

Q) What advice do you have for your replacement Frederik?

My advice to Frederik is to stay grounded and to always look to keep the right balance between exploration and tangible results.

On the one hand we need to make things simple to get results and to show that we make a difference. We need to find the perfect balance moving forward between exploration and results as they are both so important.

Frederik van de Ven

Frederik van de Ven, Chief of Staff, Project Manager to the EVP Cargo, KLM Cargo is replacing Wico Santbulte at the HFA.

Q) How excited are you to take on this role at the HFA?

It is a completely different role than I have ever done previously, but it is in line with what I have done for KLM especially on the sustainability side and at the HFA that is a very important part. I will play my role in that which is very exciting.

It is a very big opportunity that these important players are working together to optimise all the processes in the supply chain in a sustainable way. It is a big challenge but a super interesting and welcome one.

Q) What are you most looking forward to getting involved in at the HFA?

There are two main points, the first area I am looking forward to is obviously sustainability, but the second subject is thinking in a different role. I have been in a project itself, but I will be in a kind of steering committee which makes it really interesting and I am really looking forward to being in a different position.

Q) Will you ask Wico any questions or advice before you start the role?

We have been talking about the different initiatives, so I am quite up on all of the topics and looking forward to specifically working around technology and sustainability.

There has been some transformation and from KLM’s side we have a new team joining the HFA and I hope we will bring new energy.

Q) What qualities and attributes will you bring to the HFA?

I have an industrial engineering background, so I have already looked at the entire supply chain and am looking forward to doing that again. I will also be the youngest member of the HFA team, so I hope to bring some innovative thoughts and a little bit of a different perspective. I think we will have a good balance with lots of experience and people that think outside of the box -which is especially important in the industry as it can be challenging.

Q) What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your CV alone?

I have been playing a lot of tennis and I tried to be a professional tennis player when I was younger and pursued that until I was 21 but I had to stop. I actually played Novak Djokovic when I was 14 and he beat me. I knew he would be good and so did he, and he was very confident and walking around giving his signature to people and was telling people he would be number one in the future.

Q) What is your favourite sport?

Tennis but I also love watching football and I support Ajax Amsterdam.

Q) Tulips or roses? What flowers would you choose to give to your wife or girlfriend?

Roses, especially now as it is Valentine’s Day, although I did recently give my girlfriend 50 tulips.

Q) The Maldives or the Alps?

I love to be in the nature so the mountains and have recently been to New Zealand and Nepal and last Christmas I went to Kenya to see Kilimanjaro. I love to get away into the natural world.