Rimmert van Luyn is the VP Global Transportation, Customs & Compliance and EMEA Operations at Hitachi Vantara. He previously spent eight years at Hitachi Transport System as the Director Europe and was the VP Global Transportation, Customs & Compliance at Hitachi Data Systems.
What does your organisation do to drive its sustainability agenda?
Hitachi’s slogan is, Hitachi Social Innovation is POWERING GOOD, which means we will devote all our energy to realize the good desired by people throughout the world, raise the quality of people's lives and build a sustainable society.
This is embedded throughout all Hitachi’s companies. The products we design and sell, our cultural values, our sustainability goals, and the double bottom line philosophy. Hitachi’s overall mission of Social Innovation is to deliver outcomes that benefit business and society. That’s our double bottom-line and it’s why Hitachi Vantara is in business. There are also examples that our sister companies like Hitachi Rail and Hitachi Energy are moving the business model towards sustainability.
Hitachi was also present at COP26 in Glasgow in early November, where we were a principal partner. Here, we mentioned strengthening our climate target to contribute to a net zero society, by achieving neutrality through our entire value chain, including production, procurement, and the use of products and services by 2050.
At Hitachi Vantara and, in particular, the Global Supply Chain Group, we have been able to book many successes over the last few years. We just published some articles recently: https://www.hitachivantara.com/blog/business-case-for-sustainable-supply-chains-is-in-data/ and https://www.hitachivantara.com/blog/empower-your-people-through-sustainability-initiatives/
How do you feel the workplace will have changed as we emerge from the global pandemic?
The world has changed and it is continuously changing. Pre-COVID, I was travelling often for work - this stopped. Then we believed that the COVID issue would be solved quickly. Now, it has been with us for almost two years and it will be with us a little bit longer.
Working from home was not common; it was considered you were not part of the team. Now, we have remote teams, changing leadership behaviour and skills to motivate individuals, high-performance teams still achieving the overall results.
What I have seen since the pandemic is that we are flexible and eager to get together when the situation allows us, and there is a need to get things done. If there is the right culture - valuing people, integrity and trust, collaboration, and accountability and empowerment - I’m convinced you can be successful, wherever you work from.
Therefore, I believe the core values have not changed; the circumstances and the external factors have changed, and will continue to change. We, as humans, are flexible enough to adjust to the changes.
What risks have you taken throughout your career and how did they help you get to the level you are at?
At one point, there was an open position in the company I used to work at, an EMEA Operations role. I was convinced I could do this. Secondly, this was the ultimate next step in my career. I discussed this with the European Human Resources Manager and asked for feedback. He advised me that, if I really wanted the role, I should call the Managing Director and share my motivation with him. I was scared to take this risk, but I also trusted the advice I was given. So, I called him and had a chat about the reason why I wanted the role. He basically told be to wait until the role would be published.
I did, got the interview, was one of the final two candidates and got the job. When I met the Managing Director in my new role, his feedback was that he admired the courage it took to call him. This was one of the reasons why I was given that role.
Besides that example, I believe calculated risks are part of efficient leadership. Decisions need to be taken to move quickly towards the desired result.
How did you plan out your career development path?
When I started working, I wrote down my long-term ambition. Since then, at the end of each year, I create a list of accomplishments achieved, together with new goals and objectives for the next year(s). It helps me making decisions when new opportunities come along, or motivating myself to look for change or directions that brings me to the goals and objectives I have set. These goals and objectives I set are business-related, but also personal. This helps me to keep my work-life in balance.
What is the most surprising thing that has happened during your career?
I have a couple of things that surprised me during my career. In terms of intercultural communication, I have experienced many surprises, good and bad. And this can be extremely funny and sometimes embarrassing, too. I cherish these moments.
Secondly, looking back at what I initially wanted to achieve and where I am now, I’m surprised that I achieved what I had in mind at the time.
Finally, it still surprises me that leaders who manage by fear still can get away with such a management style. I still see this around me - not necessarily within my company - and strongly believe there are other ways to be successful as a leader or a company.
How can companies reduce bias in the hiring process?
This is a serious challenge. The process should be as transparent and objective as possible, and that is very complex. At the company I work for, we spend a lot of time on Diversity & Inclusion.
To understand the unconscious bias is a simple way to improve Diversity & Inclusion. And, of course, there are many other aspects that we need to take into consideration to reduce the bias. We must continue to identify the bias and create awareness to reduce the bias. At Hitachi Vantara, there are several (online) trainings available. This helps creating awareness. I also believe that technology (artificial intelligence) can help us reduce bias, creating consistency in the process.
What are the current recruitment challenges that you face?
So far, we have been able to find the right candidates and did not face challenges. We hire for cultural fit, where we search for candidates who share our values and understand our high-performance team culture. If this is a match, we also believe this candidate will outperform in the job we offer. And, as a company, we provide an excellent work-life balance, which is important for candidates to make the decision to work for Hitachi Vantara.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders?
Stay yourself. Don't let yourself be led too often by things you have to do, or things you should do. Keep developing yourself, set goals and objectives.
Treat everyone with respect, be open and honest. You will be respected; people will be open and honest to you.
Thank you to Rimmert for speaking to Michelle Ewing, Director at EMEA Recruitment.
Views and opinions contained within our Executive Interviews are those of the interviewee and not views shared by EMEA Recruitment.