People and service delivery remain key, Luke Mace, GEODIS
Leading the project logistics department of a global logistics player GEODIS takes not only a lot of dedication but also sacrifice, in that you spend more time with your colleagues than with your family. And having the backing of his family, has enabled Luke Mace, senior vice president, project, at GEODIS’ Project Logistics, to carve his career path.
His responsibility includes leading the non-oil and gas activities under GEODIS’ Project Logistics department. “This includes the Capital Projects market and other segments such as Aid & Relief, Renewable Energy and Military & Defense,” Mace tells Project Cargo Journal.
Skipping higher education to learn in the field
Being passionate about business development, Mace spends much of his time on customer facing activities. However, as the Senior Vice President it means he has his hands in everything from Finance to HR, Compliance, Legal, HSSE, Operations and Sales.
But work for Mace did not start with managerial positions. He actually skipped higher education and went straight into working full time out of high school as forklift driver. “It was something that has worked in my favour as I often had 4-8 years of “real world” experience over others my age. This is how at 31 years of age, I was offered a country managing director opportunity by GEODIS.
As an Australian, his path into the logistics industry was slightly different to some other countries. Post-schooling, Mace received an apprenticeship in forklift and warehousing, although it did not go without hick-ups. “Growing up in Adelaide, the logistics industry wasn’t quite as advanced as other sectors, and after completing the first two years of my studies, no one in the state was qualified to train me in the 3rd year! So after spending around eight years in domestic transportation, I moved into international freight forwarding,” Mace said.
The importance of family and giving back
Throughout all his years of work, Mace stressed the solid family support and his responsibility to pass on the knowledge acquired over his years in the industry to others. When asked about his mentors, Mace said, “I am very fortunate with this. There are too many people to thank; if I try, I will forget someone. Instead, I will make two comments. The first is that my most significant support has originated from my family, my wife has been with me this entire journey, and I could not have achieved any business success without her. We now have two children, and it can’t be understated that the time I spend away from home for work is as big, if not more significant, a challenge for my family as it is for me.”
For his second comment, he stressed that as a leader, he is working tirelessly to make sure that he provides the same opportunities that he has been given to others. “While there is no secret recipe to achieve this, it starts by recognising that it is my responsibility. I try and spend as much time as I can with all my colleagues regardless of what position they hold and share information/communicate with as many people as I can reach. I have been involved in some of the mentor programs GEODIS manages, which is one way to contribute. It is crucial to attract new young talents into the industry, but at the same time, we need to identify talent that is already in the industry but needs help and opportunity to fulfil its potential,” he said.
The young talent
Speaking of the young talent, Mace said that GEODIS launched an initiative internally on the topic. “Some initiatives are already in the industry; ECMC, for example, puts a significant effort into this, and I was fortunate enough to participate in the Education Day at Breakbulk Americas,” he said.
Mace notes that younger generations value purpose in personal and professional lives, which puts a task before all the companies in the industry to ensure that they resonate with the younger audience. “We do this by showing that what we do is meaningful. Suppose you look at the last few years as an example. In that case, we have been delivering COVID supplies, keeping the supply chain running through the pandemic, and providing aid to Ukraine and other needy countries. Without us, the renewables industry development would not be where it stands. We also have employee resource groups like Emerging Leaders, where we provide additional support to recognised talent,” he said.
“It is an industry I can recommend getting involved with – it is not going anywhere and does not offer many dull moments,” he noted.
Additionally, from a GEODIS perspective, he added that beyond focussing on bringing in new talents, the company is paying much attention to diversity and inclusion. “How do we make the industry more attractive to women? We have created the GEODIS Women’s Network, a powerful forum to help women strive in all areas of our business,” Mace says.
These are all changes being brought into the industry over recent years.
Do we need more industry evolution?
There is probably an entire article waiting to be written about this topic, Mace says, adding that currently the biggest change, in his opinion, is more around behaviour, the industry today has a much bigger focus on non strictly business areas than when he first started.
“A lot more time and focus is spent on subjects other than “moving cargo” such as IT solutions, sustainability programs and compliance, but then on the other hand the more things change the more they stay the same – people and service delivery remain key,” he says.
He also noted that the dynamic within the industry is an “ever-changing competitive landscape”.
“Big players want to get bigger; carriers want to be forwarders; forwarders want to be carriers. Some customers want to get more directly involved; some customers want to get less involved. One day our supplier is a partner, the next they are a competitor. Beyond that, digitalisation, automation, and compliance in all its form require more and more efforts to stay relevant as a manager and to keep the company’s offering relevant in its markets,” he said.
However, he did remark that he is not sure how much further he’d like the business he loves to change. If there is one thing though, he did note that some global consistency is needed in measuring statistics, especially HSE and sustainability.