Ferry Bakker, Henkel: ‘Prepare for the unpredictable and don’t be afraid of it’

Ferry Bakker

Today’s world is more ‘VUCA’ than ever, with a rapid succession of disruptions: COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, material shortages, climate change, inflation… not to mention highly volatile demand and strong lock-in effects impacting on many supply chains. Henkel decided to merge two business units and change the organizational setup, resulting in integral management of the end-to-end supply chain in each region. “We can now respond much faster and better,” says Ferry Bakker, Corporate Vice President Supply Chain High Growth Region at Henkel Consumer Brands.

While studying business administration at Erasmus University, Ferry Bakker did an internship at Baxter Healthcare. After graduation, his former boss called him to say the company was looking for a logistics analyst for the cardiovascular group in California. Bakker was ambitious and didn’t need to be asked twice. “The medical market is super interesting, albeit very different from FMCG, which I’d also got to know while doing my graduate thesis at Unilever.”

In other words, he had already discovered the usefulness of experience in different worlds as a way of learning about different concepts. “You need an open mindset, especially in a VUCA world. You may not be able to copy entire concepts from one market into another, but you can often use parts of them. That’s why I think, especially in today’s world, it’s good to gain experience in multiple sectors and see different types of companies at a young age.”

After your initial spell in healthcare, you’ve been in FMCG ever since. Why?

“I like the dynamics in this market. Plus I think it’s important to not only get to know different sectors, but also to experience different company cultures and different roles. At Mars I worked as a logistics account manager, which was a completely new role back then. I was subsequently made responsible for logistics and customer service, which meant I had a team under me for the first time. After doing a course in high-performing teams, I became very enthusiastic about the concept and implemented it thoroughly. … … …

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