Dear colleagues, dear friends,
I am writing these lines as I am leaving the beautiful city of Amsterdam, where I spent a few days both with the UFI leadership for our first major meetings of the year and of course for this year’s Global CEO Summit. For me, this week confirmed two beliefs that I hold: UFI is doing very well – and with a little support from all of us it can achieve even more. And: While our industry is doing very well as well, we need to learn a lot for it to stay that way, and we can learn the most from looking at how other industries are tackling problems that are similar to the ones we are facing. Let me focus on this one first.
After the pandemic, we spent a lot of time catching up and speaking with each other whenever we met as an industry. That was great, it was timely, and it was needed to understand how we could recover from the impact of COVID-19. These ongoing exchanges, wherever we met, were key for us to become the collaborative global community that we now are as an industry. I would not want to miss them for the world!
But now, we need to open up. We need to bring in other voices and leaders. On the strategic level, our industry’s issues are not industry-specific – everyone in top management needs to tackle sustainability, and changing customer expectations and business models, and staffing and retention challenges across markets and cultures.
Our GCS Chair Hervé Sedky and the UFI team picked this up, and “flipped the switch” in Amsterdam. Here, we had leaders on stage from the retail sector, and from logistics, and from food & beverage – sharing their respective corporations’ approaches and strategies to these shared challenges. Listening to them, I realised how many parallels exist between these respective industries and ours that I had not been aware of. The treasure trove of successful approaches and good practices shared also left me humbled – as we surely have a lot to do as an industry to push ourselves to comparable levels that other industries have reached. I took a lot of notes as I was summarizing the sessions at the end of the event, and I will for sure go through them again and again in the weeks to come.
Thanks to all our colleagues who joined us in Amsterdam. We were packed to capacity. And I challenge you to re-visit the sessions on demand as they will be available as usual.
This leads me to my other point – the amazing work that Kai, Adeline, and the whole UFI team are doing for us with the always limited resources that they have available. There is a simple way in which each of us – every single one of you – can support them and their work: If you know a colleague who has not yet joined our association as a member, challenge them to do this, and help them to join UFI. We are a member-based organisation, the vast majority of UFI’s funding comes from the membership fees – and these are really low, given the value you get from it. If you want to introduce others to UFI, the team has a lovely 2-minute clip here explaining our organisation. I personally have committed myself to reaching out to many of my colleagues across my region in the coming weeks and months.
Geoff Dickinson, UFI President