#55: Michael Byrne Managing Director of Toll Group

#55: Michael Byrne Managing Director of Toll Group Featured Image

Michael has a 30-year career in executive positions both in Australia and internationally in the logistics, supply chain, retail and property sectors. Previous roles include Chief Executive Officer of Coates Hire, Linfox and Westgate Holdings, as well as Non-Executive Director of Australia Post.

Toll has over 125 years of experience and operates an extensive global logistics network across 1,200 locations in more than 50 countries. With 40,000 employees, they provide a diverse range of #transport and logistics solutions covering road, air, sea, and rail. On 28 May 2015, Toll formally became a division of Japan Post.

Listen to the full discussion here:



Connect with the Guest:

Michael Byrne: Company Website

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • Toll reorganization, impact on their financial situation and future outlook
  • The $265 million investment in Toll City – one of Toll’s biggest projects
  • Toll for sale – a rumor or a fact?
  • How is Toll changing its tech infrastructure layer
  • How have clients changed their expectations of their 3PL
  • Environment and instant gratification
  • “I think we need to employ and engage people through different avenues and we need younger people in our business.”

Show notes:

  • [01:20] You went from 5 divisions in 24 business units to now 3 divisions and 11 units. What do you sense has been achieved so far?
  • [02:44] We’ve had some massive projects- one of them is the Toll City with a $265 million investment and currently we have 45,000 people in 50 countries.
  • [04:36] What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
  • [05:16] We must now evolve constantly to how the world is changing. Who would have thought a drone- a tank could wipe out 5% of the world’s fuel and probably for less than $2 million of eminence.
  • [06:55] There is an enormous amount of people at Toll who are unbelievably passionate and deeply caring about what we do. Though there are a lot who are bitter about issues like rotting off $5 billion, there is still a deep level of passion amongst the workforce to be better.
  • [09:07] On the longer term, what do you see as your path to profitability? Are there certain narratives or directions that will ensure that?
  • [10:41] Our level of profitability and returns going forward must be on easing the capital, the infrastructure, and the architecture that’s been designed since Toll is a bit of a different beast- it is asset-heavy with 16,000 company trucks around the world.
  • [12:59] I think we need to focus on the countries we can be really good at- 52 should be enough for us. We also need to use the capital that we’ve already deployed and be more engaged to some of our customers.
  • [14:50] There’s been a lot of rumors here and there about Toll being potentially put out for sale. Just to clear the air, what would be your reply to that?
  • [18:11] Can you tell us a little bit what’s the most important demands that the consumers have and how you’re trying to address it?
  • [20:56] The customers are driving a relentless game to be more efficient with their balance sheets and the consumers are driving a relentless game for immediacy.
  • [23:15] All the discussion about the environment is not really about it,  because self-gratification and immediacy overrule it, which I think is a fantastic argument.
  • [25:50] What have you done and implemented or tried to implement in Toll to have IT and technology better serve your plans?
  • [26:39] Through GDPR and changes on privacy with a lot of information to express businesses on individuals. A lot of effort- blood, sweat, and tears have gone into cybersecurity and it is one of the foundational stone.
  • [28:26] A lot of the things we’ve been doing have been focused on foundational building blocks to run the architecture, run the infrastructure and run the heavy assets that we have to protect the customers.
  • [33:49] Are you planning to do something like extracting data and applying some machine learning for the express division? Do you have any projects planned for that?
  • [36:10] “The biggest supply chain and logistics companies still need to focus more on foundational building blocks to get things right in the future.”
  • [38:45] What will be the future of the freight market if any of the air and ocean’s trade volume goes up and down? How do you stay and navigate this ocean of uncertainty?
  • [39:49] We’re thinking of getting away from globalization, when in fact it’s been nearly the greatest thing that has happened to humankind in driving wealth survivability standards and living a quality life.
  • [43:24] This industry has amazing people with amazing intellects and its exponential growth has been around globalization. I worry that we’ve become very isolationist in the industry.
  • [44:25] How is Toll’s culture defined? And you as the CEO, what are some of the values that you want to drive in that culture?
  • [46:06] Culture is living and breathing. However long I’ll be here, I can spend years on culture and behavior and then in just 38 seconds make one bad decision and I’m one hundred years of more work or can stuff it up in a blink of an eye.
  • [47:02] “Getting a job in supply chain isn’t that hard. What people want is to be treated with respect and with dignity.”
  • [51:47] What in your view are some of the key success mindsets, behaviors that the CEO should have to maintain the relevance of himself or herself as well as the company for the future?
  • [54:01] “I think that we need to employ and engage people through different avenues of recruitment because people want different things. I also think that we need younger people in our business.”
  • [59:32] “We need to pick people in our industry who as much as being smart and well educated, have a real sense particularly in where there are countries that don’t have the frameworks of some of the wisdom as they develop and grow up.”

Quote from the Episode:

Soundbite 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 ForbesBloombergWEFBangkok 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:

Episode #48: Bill Driegert Global Head of Operations and Co-Founder of Uber Freight

Episode #50: Jett McCandless CEO and Founder of project44

Episode #54: Alessandro de Luca Chief Information Officer of Merck Healthcare





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.