Brent Melvin and experienced logistician with over 30 years’ experience in transport and logistics, currently based in the Middle East for the past 15 years providing specialised logistics solutions for perishable cargo, automotive spare parts and finished vehicle logistics.
With extensive knowledge in warehousing and last mile delivery, including e-commerce solutions having worked for some of the leading integrators, Brent has recently completed projects in the digital logistics space to develop on demand trucking and fulfilment solutions.
Brent currently works for Gallega Global Logistics offering finished vehicle logistics, storage, spare parts management, PDI services and accessory fitment to vehicles.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
The most challenging discovery joining an organisation is finding a fragmented team who are unable to make decisions, scared of management, back channeling information about one another to some power hungry and over controlling manager. In other words people working in fear of losing their jobs and managing their silo, blaming others for mistakes.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I worked my way up the ranks over many years.
I started packing, lifting, loading and for a short period of time driving trucks. It was a wonderful beginning looking back, gaining hands on experience at the coal face. Learning how things work in day to day operations. I was then given the opportunity to enter the sales arena and was very successful convincing customers to use our service. It was easy to sell something I knew intimately. I could establish a trust relationship with my customers quickly, because I spoke truthfully about what we did well and how our customers could benefit as a result.
My next move was into operations, still in the trucking industry, however this time as the Operations Manager looking after a branch depot.
This is where I really started to appreciate management techniques, and failure after failure, I learnt the most valuable lessons about how to support my drivers and teams in the field. How my small actions made their jobs easy or difficult. How planning was key to everything and motivated and enabled people to give their best because they were recognised for their efforts and contribution.
I had a number of operational and sales positions over the years leading on from this, switching between operations and sales activities, until I joined a company in the position of GM for the supply chain activities. My development as a leader continued, having worked for good and really bad bosses over the years, but this was the first time I worked with a CEO whose leadership skills and values not only resonated with me, but showed me how to be the near perfect boss, at least in my opinion.
When he left the organisation, so did I, taking up a COO role for a large family owned organisation who were very good at empowering their staff to perform. After many years reporting to and working with the CEO, I left moving back to Dubai to join my current company as CEO.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I try to balance work and home life carefully, sometimes one leaks over into the other, however for the most part, work doesn’t come home. That doesn’t mean to say I am not available or needing to check that last email in the inbox before bed.
I start my day with a short catch up with my managers each day. We have a quick run through the previous day activities, and issues looming, the plan for today and what may role forward.
Following that, the day moves into a more strategic focus, looking at opportunities, customer results, meeting with various parties, project reviews etc.
Each day is of course unique and a key part of my planning is to try and close matters within the day or agreed timelines. I like to be ahead of the game, knowing that tomorrow will bring its own opportunities and challenges
4. What’s the most recent significant leadership lesson you’ve learned?
When times get tough, invest in people. We are nothing without the capable staff around us.
5. What’s one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Steven Erickson, Gardens of the Moon. While not being a management or leadership book, it is a novel that tells of an army and its conquests. The leader is a much loved individual who balances orders that are irrefutable with the ability to listen to his soldiers, taking into account their experience and assessment of a situation, resulting in a well executed scenario due to team play, trust in each other and knowing the role each has to perform perfectly. The overriding principles are an empathetic leader who loves his people, trusts them to do their jobs, provides support where necessary and finally is loved in return.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Understand the culture of your organisation, or develop a culture. Each organisation has its own values, approach to people and deliverables.
My approach is one of building a trust with my direct reports, empowering them to do their job. Fixing mistakes together if they occur, and learning from them. Sharing experiences, and developing empathy within the leadership team towards their staff.
Be fair in what you do and value your people. If someone is not willing to get on board with change, you cannot force them. They have decisions to make finally, but most will adapt and join the cause.
Lead by example. Know when to demand and when to listen. Collaborate and involve your leaders in decisions, making them part of the goal the organisation is trying to achieve.
Recognise success and celebrate the same. Mentor and develop your staff, and invest in them.
Where possible, develop from within and additionally bring in fresh talent where appropriate to stimulate new thinking.
Never let go, empower people to perform, but always be there with them and for them.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
The true test for me was when I was laid up for some weeks with back surgery and I needed timeout, both mentally and physically. While this is near impossible to achieve, mostly because I can’t leave things alone. My team responded by stepping up in the most extraordinary way. The groundwork had been laid for them to do their jobs and lead their teams, but it was wonderful to see them, without exception rallying to support each other, ensuring deliverables were met on time and the organisation stayed focused. I am proud of my staff, and while people may read this and think it’s expected, I believe it is done out of passion and belief.