Interview Teunis Steenbeek: Together for the Win

Together for the Win

In order for Schiphol to achieve the aim of becoming Europe’s smartest cargo hub, it is imperative that the Cargo Community at and around Schiphol cooperates closely. The Smart Cargo Mainport Program (SCMP) plays an integral part in this. It helps the Community devise and implement digital and innovative solutions for their cargo challenges. Teunis Steenbeek, Program Manager for SCMP, tells us about the work method that works best.

Getting real

While everyone agrees that SCMP’s success relies very heavily on cooperation between all the parties in the supply chain, collaboration isn’t always a given. “People rarely cooperate for the sake of collaboration,” says Teunis. “They cooperate if, and only if, they see there is something in it for them. They may all agree there is a common goal, but no one will forget about his or her own interests in this process.”

According to Teunis, this is not a criticism, but a fact of life. “And it is crucial that this is made very explicit and that the parties all recognise it. In order to optimise the whole supply chain, partners will need to sometimes do things that are not, in the short term, directly relevant to their own businesses. There are no taboos – if you hide your concerns about this, they will merely pop up again later on. We encourage partners to discuss these challenges openly and honestly, at an early stage, so that we can move forward together.”

Professional and personal

Teunis has many years of experience in managing change programs in the supply chain sector. He has worked for Nedlloyd, P&O Nedlloyd, TNT, and Port of Rotterdam. He came to Schiphol two years ago.

“I like to work. And the reason why is, almost always, because of the people I work with. You do not work with organisations, you work with people,” he explains.

Teunis describes his work schedule as “very dynamic”, consisting largely of taking part in numerous working groups and meetings, giving presentations and, like the rest of us, answering emails. “In the busy day-to-day activities, personal interaction makes a real difference.”

Committing to the challenge

“It is my challenge to lead the SCMP, which consists of a lot of projects,” explains Teunis. “My main focus is to make sure we are heading in the right direction and that people support where we are going. This involves talking with a lot of people, listening to their concerns and suggestions, trying to overcome hurdles and convincing them of the best way forward.”

He explains that it is important to have the right balance between short-term goals and long-term vision, especially when the full benefits of implementing SCMP will take several years to realise. However, he says, “It helps drive commitment and enthusiasm when people can see that concrete steps are being taken that add real value to their working lives.”

Teunis is a keen sportsman, and so understands the thrill of competition. But in this instance, he emphasizes, it is more important that everyone wins, if SCMP is to succeed.