#152: Toll Group, Future of 3PLs, Executive vs Non-executive Board

Thomas Knudsen has been servis as Non Executive Chair of Toll Group since July 2022. Having previously served as Managing Director at Toll Group between 2020 to 2022, as well prior to that as Toll’s President of Global Forwarding.

Thomas is a senior executive with a global logistics career spanning more than 25 years. Thomas has held executive leadership, commercial, trade and route management roles in the Middle East, North America, Europe and Asia. 

Prior to joining Toll, Thomas was CEO, Asia Pacific at global logistics leader, Damco. Based in Singapore, he was responsible for the company’s day-to-day business operations for the Asia region, with more than 5000 colleagues in a region stretching from Japan to Myanmar. 

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.



Connect with the Guest:

Thomas Knudsen: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • Inflection points in Thomas’ career- understanding different cultures
  • Maintaining the relevance of 3PL industries
  • Transitioning from the CEO to Chairman of Toll and the difference between the roles
  • Staying relevant in an advancing and improving world through AI
  • How to embrace failure whilst building your career

Show notes:

  • [1:40] What are the inflection points in your career that helped you to be where you are?
  • [2:41] I think my first inflection point was realizing that there are no good or bad cultures and that they are just different cultures. 
  • [8:35] How do you see the 3PL industries maintaining relevance in a world where shipping lines are crossing into different things?
  • [10:14] I think very much that we are still relevant because we do a number of things for our customers, we ensure that their logistics chain is possible through using a large number of partners.
  • [14:27] How likely or unlikely do you see this happening, and what are your thoughts on becoming a 4PL, switching the system and all the data, having access to all the different rates, and then starting to play the master of the system?
  • [16:56] Considering your transition from being the MD and CEO of Toll to becoming the chairman of Toll, what are the main differences between these two roles?
  • [17:57] If you take the difference between the CEO and the nonexecutive chair, I think it’s important to realize that there are some specific roles that the board and the chair have, which are around the governance of the business.
  • [20:34] Any other common misconceptions that you’ve come across regarding specifically the role of the board?
  • [20:47] I think there’s a lot of people who think that the board or a board role is something where you meet every quarter, and then you listen to a presentation, ask some questions, and then you get paid a nice fee and that’s it. But I think there’s much more to being bought than that. I think there’s something about staying relevant. 
  • [25:48] What are some of the really low-hanging fruits that you think logistics technology can fix and should fix in the next two years and that startups should focus on? 
  • [28:55] I think exception handling and well-defined problems are the ones that will have the most traction in the next two years.
  • [32:16]  What are your thoughts on how we can prepare ourselves to stay relevant as employees, leaders, and executives in a world where AI is advancing and improving?
  • [34:27]  I actually think that the idea of staying relevant is by leveraging what is the most human thing, which is human connections. And that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn math, trades, AI, and so on. However, you will never be smarter in the future than an AI engine when it comes to understanding what’s going on with a specific process or whatever. But I do think you can add value by having some skills that connect people going forward.
  • [35:26] Maybe tell us a little bit about some plugs around the work that you do.
  • [37:48] I think what makes me excited, like most people I know, is meeting with smart, intelligent individuals who inspire me and from whom I can learn, whether it’s within my family or among others. I really enjoy that.
  • [39:18] What would be one or two pieces of advice that you would give to graduating students to best help them in their careers in their future jobs?
  • [39:43] Just spend time learning and don’t have too much of a plan. Get to understand how things work. Be willing to do some stuff that might be hard. Go travel and live in countries that are different from what you’re used to, which can be difficult, but get out and learn.

Quotes from the Episode:

About the Host:

The host, Radu Palamariu is the co-author of “From Source to Sold – Stories of Leadership in Supply Chain”. He has been named one of the top 3 Global Supply Chain Influencers on LinkedIn and was featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, WEF, Bangkok Post, and MIT Supply Chain Talent magazine. Radu invites executives to share stories and perspectives around technology, logistics, e-commerce, supply chain, and manufacturing, and their views on how the future will look.

Alcott Global connects and upgrades the supply chain ecosystem by finding the right talent through executive search, developing talent through learning solutions, and meeting supply chain technology needs through a comprehensive crunch base marketplace.

The supply chain executive search has been our focus since the very beginning, offering recruitment services for top-tier supply chain roles at every level of the end-to-end supply chain: plan, source / procure, make, and deliver. Our consultants have years of experience in placing top talent, in North America, LATAM, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and APAC, and besides speed, one of our biggest strengths is our network within the supply chain industry, and we capitalize on it to find the best solutions.

Through the years, we have grown as an organization and our offerings with it. One of our initiatives, the learning solutions- training and supply chain academy, is focused on transforming leadership- self-leadership, executive presence, influence capital, and business acumen. Through Supplify, we aim to match corporations with the top technology companies to solve their supply chain and logistics challenges with a focus on innovation and digital transformation.

We are in constant touch with the leaders in supply chain, inviting them to inspire the supply chain professionals in thought-provoking podcast episodes and events, and showcasing what is possible at the yearly Leaders in Supply Chain Awards.

Related Episodes:

#149: The Evolving Supply Chains of Semiconductors

#150: The Power of Diversity and Inclusion in PepsiCo

#151: Chemicals Supply Chains, Changing Organisations, and Mindsets




Get the most appealing jobs in value chains.

"(Required)" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Get the most appealing jobs in technology, supply chain & logistics space.

Scroll to Top


Get the most appealing jobs in technology, supply chain & logistics space.

"(Required)" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.