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Interview with Ton Groffen – Transport Planner – Rotterdam Office

Transport Planner – A love for logistics
Interview with Ton Groffen – Transport Planner – Rotterdam Office

Every day is different

‘If you drive over here and see the building you find yourself saying, ‘WOW,’ right?’ asks Ton Groffen, a Transport Planner. A soulful conversation about passion for logistics and rising opportunities at an early age.

At the industrial heart of the port of Rotterdam, a grey building towers above the water surface like a ship’s bow. It’s here that Samskip’s head office overlooks the flow of cargo ships in-and-out whilst planning their clients overseas shipments. One of those Transport Planners is Ton Groffen, a 27 year old who studied Logistics and Economics after a gap year working in a factory. It was love at first sight when he saw how the logistics of that factory seemed to keep everything under control. And it was not until then that he decided: ‘This is what I want to do in life’.

Is this your first job after graduation?
‘No, I graduated in 2014 and since then I have worked at several different companies. But, in every one of those jobs I worked in the Transport Planning department. Some jobs were really great and some were not a good fit. Then one day — a year ago — I was browsing the internet, saw this job on LinkedIn and decided to apply for it. After the first interview, I knew this job had my name written all over it. I liked the whole package: the international working environment, the multimodal transportation, but also the informal way of communication at Samskip. It felt like home.’

Is Samskip what you expected it to be?
‘I did not have big expectations. Before I worked here, I did not even know how big Samskip was within the multimodal transport market. It is huge! Probably because it is such a fast-paced and dynamic company, every day is different. In this job I learned new aspects: new clients, new services, new systems. Samskip is an innovative company: we are constantly finding new ways of transportation— there is a new Railway service to and from China, for instance. We are also working with the newest systems.’

Talk me through your typical day at the office.
‘Every day there is a list of orders that Customer Services makes that needs to be planned. I plan all the trucking in the Benelux. I’ve got a pool of 130 drivers that I need to organize whilst keeping a good eye on the laws and regulations concerning driver road and rest times. At the same time, I also have to keep in mind all of the arrangements that are made for our clients. It is one big puzzle that needs to be put together by the end of the day, and in our department, we all help each other out. Every employee in the Planning department has its own focus, for example there are people who focus on trucking, shipping or barge. So, we all work together to fix this puzzle every day.’

What is your biggest challenge?
‘Every day something new happens. There can be strikes in one country while a truck driver has a flat tire or just got stuck in a traffic jam. When this happens the whole planning gets messed up and you have to start all over again. It is a challenge — but I like the fact that I am a problem solver, not only for Samskip, but for our clients.’

What kind of personality do you need to have to flourish in this job?
‘You need to be stress resistant, analytical for sure, decisive and communicative. I think that if you do not have a passion for logistics yet, you will just by working here. It is such a magnificent company. If you drive over here and see the building, you find yourself saying, ‘WOW,’ right? The location is stunning and you can actually see what you are doing here because you look right over the port of Rotterdam. That is incredibly motivating.’

What’s the department like?
‘The department is very much like the whole company: young, informal and professional. Most of the managers developed themselves to become managers — and this is what I like the most because it shows how much opportunity there is for growth. I started here eight months ago, worked very hard, and I believe it is going to pay off very quickly. I actually hope one day, not far from now, to be promoted to a management role within the company. Samskip is very open to the new kids on the block — and I guess I am one of them.’

Interview with Helga van Oeveren – Customer Service – Rotterdam Office

Story by Siobhan Morrin – Logistics Trainee – Rotterdam Office