Switching into crisis management
Peter Somers, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Post, shares his experiences and advice on dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
“Just four months ago it would have seemed impossible that such a pandemic could arise in our current zeitgeist and would disrupt just about the entire system upon which our society is built, especially economically. Across the world hundreds of thousands of people are sick, dying and leaving family and friends in unthinkable pain and sorrow.
This crisis is unseen and unique in its kind.
Covid-19 asks for exceptional and responsible leadership
This crisis requires exceptional leadership in all areas, even in the Middle East where decisions are made and respected a little differently. I have been working here as CEO of Emirates Post for five months now and I already have some insight into the intercultural differences, but this no longer applies in times of crisis. We switch into crisis management modus and our management team makes hard and clear decisions every day at a brisk pace and these are carried out without blink. Empowerment is no longer a buzz word…
Communication is paramount
Making decisions quickly and accurately is only possible with sufficient explanation. Internal and external communication, particularly on social media is extremely important in these times and every day you have to inform the thousands of employees about the risks, the solutions we offer, the changes we make to our way of working and the service to our customers and the country. It is also important to thank staff who work in the frontline appropriately, internally, externally and thus also on social media.
Offer security to your staff and customers
The specificity of this virus is its extreme transmissibility. How do you deal with this in a postal company where we have thousands of visitors in our post offices and do thousands of daily home deliveries. We were one of the first postal companies to successfully introduce contactless delivery. We also quickly started disinfecting all our buildings, post-offices, vehicles and providing our people with masks and gloves. We have also introduced thermal scanning for all employees who enter our sorting centres and are now rolling this out in our post offices to measure the temperature of our customers. Despite everything, the fear of infection remains. Framing this is not easy and will stay a challenge in the next coming days and weeks.
Support the community
In these times of crisis and serving a company with a social role it is important to take measures in the interest of society and the country. So I quickly decided to deliver mail and parcels free of charge to senior citizens and people of determination. A measure that is valued both externally and internally.
Every challenge has an opportunity
Emirates Post received a lot of criticism on its retail operations last year, in the meantime many measures have been taken to improve the service and especially in the field of parcel deliveries, we provide a top service. This crisis is an ideal time to show our strengths to the market and improve the reputation of the company. We already see an influx of new customers and volumes as a result.
Tackling this crisis within the business environment is no different here in the Middle East. It comes down to leadership, empowerment, communication, common sense and extremely hard work! Leaders should now be exceedingly human, persistent and creative.”
About Peter Somers
Peter Somers is CEO of Emirates Post, the UAE postal provider and has been appointed in October 2019 to transform the company from Government to Private focusing on the fast-growing e-commerce parcel delivery in the country and internationally.
- Peter Somers is a strategic executive and entrepreneur in the Postal & Logistics industry. He is founder of the e-Commerce logistics company SprintPack and co-founder of SKS & Partners, a network of E-Commerce Logistic consultants.
- He was member of the Executive Committee of bpost, the Belgian Postal Operator, till July 2014 and was CEO of bpost Parcels & International, a rapidly growing business unit with over Euro 475 Mio revenues and employing close to 1.000 people, covering bpost domestic parcels, international parcels and mail activities in Europe, the Americas and Asia.
- He possesses more than 25 years of experience resulting from executive positions in leading distribution, E-commerce logistics and postal companies and in-depth expertise in designing and implementing distribution systems, new market entry, M&A, business development and innovation. Peter demonstrates excellent interpersonal, communication and negotiation skills and the ability to develop beneficial internal and external relationships. He enjoys managing and motivating teams to become successful and productive and thrives in highly challenging working environments. He also is a frequent presenter across the world in postal, transport and retail conferences.