Having joined sennder 6 months ago, Dirk started his role as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) during a very different time. Since joining, it has been an eventful few months. Covid-19 has become the ‘new normal’, sweeping across the globe and shutting down Europe - amongst other continents - for almost four months.
Despite this, Dirk has witnessed remarkable growth in sennder’s team. He inherited a team of 30 product managers and engineers. Now, following organic growth and the merger with French firm Everoad, Dirk oversees over 100 talented and passionate people who are building the operating system for the logistics market.
As an experienced technology professional, having worked at Skype, as VP Engineering at Klarna and held numerous CTO positions, Dirk brings a wealth of expertise and leadership experience to the company.
We recently sat down with Dirk to discuss his first 6 months at sennder and what he feels the future holds for the engineering and product teams.
Dirk, to start off, please can you briefing explain your role as CTO at sennder?
First, there is no such thing as a ‘typical day’, or even a typical week!
Since starting at sennder, my primary focus has been on building the tech team and implementing the right culture, ways of working, and kicking off new product development initiatives. I have a great team around me and continuous support from our business partners and investors that allowed me to focus on transitioning the tech organization to be able to scale!
I’m also spending a lot of my time with the management team. We have been discussing what a technology company looks like and how we can transform sennder’s into a product and technology-driven company - we’re on track for this.
Why is sennder heavily investing in tech?
Our ambition is to build the best operating system for the logistics world and bring the industry into the digital world. To do this, firstly we need to build products that deliver a stellar and simple user experience and secondly, we must solve hard engineering problems that exist under the hood. In doing so, we will deliver value to shippers and carriers.
The logistics industry is very interesting because technology and data are yet to be widely leveraged to solve some common challenges. At sennder we see a huge opportunity to apply our product and engineering muscle to deliver solutions to these problems.
One example of a challenge that we face is load recommendations for carriers. We want to provide highly contextual and relevant loads to carriers to optimize their fleet utilization, reducing the amount of KM driven while empty. This is a high environment issue with 30% of all trucks on the road driving empty. We basically want to build the Netflix of the logistics world with a load recommendation engine.
From a sennder perspective, we are challenged with remaining lean and efficient as we scale. We see automation as a key part of this solution. Again, technology has a vital role to play in this.
What do you need to fulfill your objectives?
We’re still growing and have ambitious objectives for this year and next.
When you’re growing as a business, it is natural for new challenges to arise. To solve these inevitable challenges, we are looking for talented people. Consequently, I expect us to further ramp up our recruitment, looking at data scientists, software engineering and awesome product managers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team grew by a further 50% over the next year.
Having external support is also key. At sennder, we are fortunate to have this from our array of investors. They are very supportive – contributing innovative ideas and challenging us to approach things differently.
Significantly, during your time at sennder the business merged with Everoad. How has the amalgamation of both companies been?
From an organizational perspective, we are well integrated. It’s come at a great time. We were considering how to adapt our existing structure and Everoad, with its deep experience in the logistics industry and a great tech team, slotted into it perfectly. We are now working as one combined tech organization while teams work autonomously out of Paris and Berlin. As ever, when working internationally there are different backgrounds and cultures to take into consideration, so I’m pleased that it’s worked well.
Now, we’re migrating the business, updating the sennder platform in line with customer needs and expectations. We’re aiming for full migration onto our sennOS platform by the end of the year.
Looking forward, the future looks bright for sennder. Looking more broadly, what trends do you see emerging in the industry?
There are still many challenges - network optimization for carriers is one that comes to mind. We’re working to ensure that they’re as efficient as possible – reducing the unnecessary mileage and therefore, cutting the corresponding CO2 emissions.
Looking at trends, the shift from reactive to predictive is something that we're driving. We want to give our customers greater transparency of the delivery process, alongside unparalleled quality. We want to provide accurate guidance on when their goods are due to arrive but also predict possible issues, and take counter action. Data has a key role to play in this.
Applying technology to run operational processes efficiently is the overarching trend. For sennder, we want to become a one-stop-shop for shippers and carriers. Allowing them to run their business digitally and efficiently entirely through us.
As we scaled the tech organization in the last 6 month we saw how we pick up speed. We’re now in a position where we can focus on topics that are relevant for the industry, to a greater extent.
We’ve got an amazing year ahead of us. I am truly looking forward to seeing what’s next!