After my studies, I started my career in 1996 in Brussels with the global forwarder Expeditors. My interest in hazardous goods was already clear early on, becoming the IATA dangerous goods adviser for the company at Brucargo.
I moved to Asia in 1998 to join Vopak in Taiwan (Van Ommeren became Vopak in 1999). I gained experience offering integrated supply chain solutions, including storage, freight, and transportation management. Being on board ships in the port of Kaohsiung, monitoring loading and unloading operations, supervising storage operations, and inventory control are examples of exciting and invaluable real hands-on experiences.
In 2002 I decided to return to Belgium to join Total Petrochemicals (now TotalEnergies), where I held various logistics posts. Following a brief time in Paris, I worked at the feedstock supply department (naphtha, butane) in Brussels to monitor paper swaps, feedstock shipments, and inventory levels in Belgium and France. I then shifted to base chemicals (ethylene, propylene, C4, aromatics, and styrene) to charter gas and chemical tankers for the European demand and coordinate barge tenders covering the ARA region and Rhine River. In addition, I supported tank storage, rail, road, and intermodal contracting requirements and was involved with the implementation of SAP. Besides this, I had a short spell at refining, providing support for intercontinental petroleum shipments in direct coordination with the trading desk. I was also appointed project manager to set up a demurrage cost center. The successful project resulted in understanding the causes of delays, implementing operational improvements, and refusing/recovering demurrage. The shift from working for a logistics service provider to an oil and chemical major was an excellent opportunity to learn more about HSEQ and functional organizations.
In 2005 I went back to Asia for Total, where I was Logistics Manager for the Asia Pacific based in Hong Kong. I successfully developed Total’s regional liquid bulk supply chain to support the new regional trading and manufacturing activities. The health and safety performance of potential service providers was a challenge, so I started guiding regional companies on HSEQ so that we could enter into transport or storage agreements. I negotiated COA and spot shipping contracts, and operated Total’s first-ever chemical time-charter vessel in Asia to secure vessel space for captive and trading activities. Unused vessel space was placed in the market, propelling me to shipowner looking for charterers. As the logistics manager, my task was to guarantee captive requirements and support trading opportunities, including geographical and technical arbitrage. I learned how to leverage, create flexibility, and support opportunities in often tough market conditions. Challenging events that I had to navigate with solutions included lack of ship availability, severe weather conditions, incidents, plant shutdowns, force majeure, and the global financial crisis, to name a few.
In April 2010, I joined SPI Marine in Singapore as General Manager of Integrated Logistics Solutions to develop liquid bulk shipping and logistics activities to complement parcel tanker shipbroking. In early 2014 I assisted SPI Marine in forming Contralo Asia (now called Manuport Logistics Asia), a company active in forwarding services for bulk liquids, including Isotanks and flexitanks.