It’s 12 months since Thorsten Neumann was tasked with leading TAPA EMEA’s seismic shift from a voluntary association to a professional organisation. So, how is he finding the challenge of being the region’s first-ever full-time President & CEO?

What was the thinking behind TAPA EMEA appointing its first-ever, full-time President & CEO?

Since TAPA was established more than 20 years ago, it always relied on voluntary support. We were extremely fortunate to gain the expertise of so many experienced and highly respected supply chain security professionals from Manufacturers and Logistics Service Providers but the reality is that they also had very busy, demanding and ever-changing day jobs which always had to be their priority. I think when you look at what TAPA EMEA has achieved under this structure, its success has been quite remarkable – and this has increased not only the expectation on the Association in the region but also the opportunities for us to grow and provide more benefits for our members. Two years ago, the EMEA BOD decided that to realise this potential, we needed to create an organisation in the region led by full-time professionals. We spent a long time looking at how this was going to work, what we wanted to achieve for our members, and putting a strategy in place. Now it’s a reality and my focus is to help take TAPA EMEA to the next level. 

Of course, it’s a significant transition and the mindset change needed for this new direction is still evolving, but the leadership team in the region are very excited about what we can achieve together, with the support of our growing membership. 

What attracted you to this post?  

I spent 20 very enjoyable years working for global players in the manufacturing environment but throughout this time I was also with TAPA, spending the last 13 years as Chairman of the EMEA region. To be the first full-time President & CEO of this great Association, and to help shape the future of something I am so passionate about, was an opportunity I could not resist. One of the best bits of career advice I have ever seen is ‘find something you love and do it forever’. Not everyone is able to do this, so I feel very fortunate to be in this role. I think our members in EMEA know that TAPA is in my DNA and I really want to make a positive difference during my time here.       

EMEA now also has a new Advisory Board – how will this new structure benefit members?

It is testimony to the importance of TAPA EMEA that we have been able to assemble such an influential and respected Advisory Board. I will have a super close relationship with Michael, Frank, Gilad and Paul as we roll out our strategy, similar to the interaction I enjoy with the Officers of TAPA EMEA; Marcel, Jason and Ap.

From a strategic point-of-view, the Advisory Board will be key to our success as we call on their knowledge and expertise to help guide the next stage of our development. Our members in EMEA will significantly benefit from the new structure as we create new strategies and ideas to increase and broaden the value we provide.   

TAPA’s focus is moving beyond simply cargo crime prevention to a broader supply chain resilience focus. Why the shift? 

Look at the media. Everyone is talking about supply chains because they have been so high profile and, in many cases, so disrupted by the coronavirus. And, at the top of most businesses’ agenda is supply chain resilience. Our world is changing every day, risk is changing every day, technology is changing every day, as we as people are changing every day in the way we work and act as consumers. This creates new opportunities and risks, and we have to reflect this in what we do and what we offer to our members.

We must connect the dots and understand that this is not a race or a competition that has an end. There is no finish line. We need to look for continuous improvement and we must be alert and responsive to any changes that impact the overall resilience of our members’ supply chains. 

You regularly engage with TAPA EMEA’s members. What do they want from TAPA in the next 12-24 months?

They want us to drive our digital transformation and want to see more online solutions. One of the big impacts of COVID-19 across most sectors will be the acceleration of technology and digital solutions which deliver accessible benefits. We are already seeing this with our new Virtual Training sessions to support the 2020 FSR and TSR Standards. We will invest in an online platform which ultimately provides more self-service options for our Standards, intelligence, training and networking as well as greater transparency of the work we are doing.   

How are you building closer partnerships with other key stakeholders?

Our focus is still to expand our visibility with like-minded partners, like Europol, INTERPOL, NATO, the European Commission and important national bodies like the German Insurance Association. We will be looking for opportunities to work with them, support their initiatives and to see what they can do to help us too. The fact that we are increasingly more visible on social platforms is also building greater awareness of TAPA and helping to connect us or increase our engagement with other bodies and associations. But, like everything else, this must be a continuous process if we are to make our vision and mission a reality, and we must be respectful of each other’s strengths. A good example is the European Commission’s Safe & Secure Truck Parking Areas (SSTPA) project. We welcome its focus on the need for more secure truck parking but strongly believe the Commission is going in the wrong direction. As we have proven with FSR and TSR, sustainable and effective industry standards should come from the industry, for the industry, and be accepted and implemented by the industry. We are now demonstrating this again with our own Parking Security Requirements (PSR).

As TAPA is driving for global standards, our PSR has also been adapted already in APAC, the CIS and Africa and we are growing every month. We remain in close contact with the EU and will do our best to align with SSTPA but we continue to urge them to listen to the industry.  

2019 was a record year for the number of IIS incident reports – what is TAPA’s strategy for building a bigger database of incident intelligence?

TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) is a key pillar of our value proposition and a tremendous benefit for our members. Every effective end-to-end Risk Mitigation or Loss Prevention programme feeds on accurate intelligence. IIS provides reliable data that helps our members drive their risk exposure to the lowest level possible.

Our challenge remains getting a higher percentage of the incidents we know are taking place across EMEA into our IIS database. We need our members and partners to provide us with more intelligence on incidents they suffer as well as other cargo crimes they see reports of. Our main sources right now are our Law Enforcement Agency contacts all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa but the entire TAPA Family can do more to help us – and when they do, they will be the ones gaining the biggest benefit. And, as we always point out, we never ask for any company name or details whenever we collect incident data. The identities of victims are always protected. As part of our digital transformation, how we collect and share intelligence will be uppermost in our minds. In support of this, we have already started new partnerships with companies with their own risk management tools to enhance TAPA’s visibility within their client bases.

Digitisation is a big theme for TAPA EMEA’s transformation, so what can members look forward to?

Having spent many years working for one of the biggest software companies in the world, you can be assured that driving our digital transformation to the next level is one of my priorities and this commitment is shared by our Officers and Advisory Board. Our members will see new digital solutions, initially in the form of our online brand presence, our training and exam processes, data analytics, marketing and communications. Two of our main projects currently are linked to our TAPA Standards & certification processes plus enhancing our CRM capabilities.

TAPA’s new FSR and TSR Standards go ‘live’ in EMEA on 1 July. How are you going to get more companies to adopt the Standards?

Yes, we are about to go ‘live’ and the world will see the best-ever TAPA Security Standards to protect their facilities and trucking operations in our 23-year history. This includes a new modular approach for our TSR Standard and a Multi-site certification solution for FSR, which are both the result of listening to what our members need. The changes are based on the feedback we have received and, consequently, we have already won more global players which now plan to adopt our Standards as part of their supply chain resilience programmes.

Can you list five actions EMEA members can take to support the new benefits you are planning to deliver?   

ð  Please send us feedback on a more regular basis of what can we do for you

ð  Support our IIS database and share your incident data

ð  Embrace our Standards in your own operations and encourage your partners and suppliers to do the same 

ð  Visit our website and social media platforms and share our updates with your own contacts to expand our global audience

ð  Help to grow our membership – introduce us to companies, suppliers, partners or competitors which should become a TAPA member. The stronger we become, the more benefits we will be able to deliver

COVID-19 has disrupted everyone and everything. How is TAPA preparing for the ‘new normal’ both in the short and long-term?

We’ve already developed our online training to overcome the restrictions on face-to-face events and we will be working on other fit-for-purpose solutions for our members. Stay tuned! After all of the disruption to our events calendar in 2020, we are also already at an advanced stage of planning our next main EMEA conference on 10-11 June 2021 in Amsterdam. And, of course, we will also rely on our members to tell us what they need too.

Looking back over your first year, what are you happiest about?

I love being part of the TAPA Team and being involved in how we serve our members on a day-to-day basis behind the scenes. Unless you have this opportunity, it’s hard to appreciate how much work goes on and is needed to sustain our great and growing association, or how many people are working to ensure seamless support to our members. A good example is the shift from a 100% classroom-driven Training solution to a virtual, online solution within a matter of weeks in response to the COVID restrictions. That has shown me how agile and responsive we can be. I also love the daily communication I have with TAPA members, key stakeholders, regulatory bodies, and our colleagues in the other regions.

What lessons have you learned in your first year?

Even if TAPA EMEA is more than 20 years old, we are in effect a start-up since we kicked off our transition to become a more professionally-driven organization – but, of course, we are doing this from a very solid and established base. Everything is new for us and we must work hard to establish a company-like structure for all of the key areas we need to succeed.

What are your top 5 objectives for 2020H2 and 2021?

ð  Drive our digital Transformation

ð  Hire more professional resources to join the TAPA Family

ð  Win more members

ð  Organise the next TAPA Conference in 2021

ð  Engage with more members and people in the field, including to establish more regionally-focused conferences/meetings