#40: Heart, Mind, and Backbone with Niklas Hedin CEO of Centiro

Heart, Mind, and Backbone with Niklas Hedin CEO of Centiro Featured Image

Niklas Hedin is an innovator and strategist whose long experience catalyzes the conversation and inspires to get to the next level in business. Based on insights of gaps in the market for Delivery Management which needed new solutions, Niklas founded Centiro in 1998. He brings 25+ years of experience on how to develop businesses using insights and hands-on-experience on supply chain and IT. Niklas’ work on scaling an agile organization has rendered recognition in many ways, inspiring others to drive change in times of challenge. He has led Centiro to the forefront of the industry, which has rendered numerous awards and a market-leading position.

Centiro is a global market-leading innovator in cloud-based delivery network management solutions with 350+ employees and 30+% YoY growth. Centiro technology empower marquee brands and finer supply chains in 125+ countries. Centiro exists to enable and empower commerce for companies with winning aspirations who seek to make a difference. Centiro has received numerous awards and honors, including Great Place to Work® Legend.

Listen to the full discussion here:

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



Connect with the Guest:

Niklas Hedin: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • [08:10] The most important trends in Supply Chain
  • [14:55] What makes Centiro different
  • [19:50] Collaborating with Zalando on their Connected Retail Program of 1800 stores 
  • [25:21] Where is my order? Reducing the customer service workload by 80%
  • [29:21] eCommerce and Returns – Up to 86% of buyers check the returns policy
  • [35:09] Radical Innovation – harnessing the collective power of the team
  • [40:51] Centiro’s culture – heart, mind, and backbone – in that order

Show notes:

  • [01:45] Maybe you can mention some of the main milestones of your career and what is the most exciting part of being the CEO of Centiro?
  • [04:15] If you think about learnings as milestones, of course, there’s a ton and they keep coming. So even if it’s a lot of years and yes I have a fairly distinguished leadership career now, I’m still learning.
  • [05:51] How did the name Centiro come about? 
  • [06:35] I found a Latin word, which is Sentire to sense, to understand. And the understanding part struck me and I exchanged the S for a C and the E at the end for an O and suddenly you got Centiro.
  • [07:11] Centiro was founded quite some time ago. I want to double-check with you, is it over 20 years ago, or is it different? 
  • [08:42] What do you see in the short term and on the longterm happening from a supply chain trends perspective?
  • [12:13] You could have taken decisions faster all the time. Why did you require a pandemic to make yourself realize you could actually make quality decisions and move faster.
  • [13:36] I believe that the gap between the winners and losers is going to widen because, in order to service the new consumer we’re seeing, you need to be really good. You need to be well integrated, digital,  fluent, and smooth in all your touchpoints. 
  • [14:55] How is Centiro different compared to the other players? 
  • [16:02] We’re more network-oriented in our view of the world, which means that any function that appears in this network view of the world is relevant. 
  • [17:20] Now, if you move to the world of digital and where we are today, you now need to not only add that but you also need to add several more players, including what used to perhaps be your competition or non-competition.
  • [19:18] One of your most recent clients Zalando, which is also one of your partners. I was wondering how have their operations improved by working together with you? Are there certain results that you could share? And I’m sure there are certain lessons that have come across from this collaboration.
  • [20:48] If you combine the logistics capabilities of two companies, how do you actually make that flow? That’s one of the questions we were trying to solve and which I think Zalando is really good at. 
  • [24:15] Could share a bit more about a few others, maybe not mentioning names or numbers, but I’m curious are there solutions to how Centiro has helped other clients.?
  • [27:19] What is your opinion around the returns, especially, retail returns? Because there’s a big pain, especially for the retail sector. How does your solution help with that?
  • [29:21] As part of the buying process, up to 86%, when we made studies a few years back, consumers will actually look to the returns part before they buy. So that is how important it is.
  • [33:18] What is exciting as you look ahead in the story of Centiro? What are some of the milestones as you look ahead? Are there any expansion plans in the making?
  • [34:34] Innovation does not only come from product, service, or et cetera, there’s of course, still, innovation to be done on the service side and a lot of it needs to be underpinned by data-driven insights.
  • [36:23] We have big problems to solve and we need to harness this new technology to get us there. And again we have tasked ourselves with creating the future, not only improving what we already have but also creating the tomorrow that we all see a necessity for. 
  • [37:43] How do you define the culture of Centiro? 
  • [38:36] We need to collaborate because fundamentally no one single person, company, entity, organization, a country even can solve problems on their own. So my fundamental belief is that we create better value by working together. 
  • [40:51] There are two fundamental types of cultures. One is based on trust and the other is based on control. And most of the time you see mixes between the two, but they’re typically leaning to one or the other. I’m trying to build a culture, which is based on trust, and then leaders need to become servants. 
  • [45:08] The backbone part of the culture is about having a leadership promise, which others can rely on. Who can they actually rely on when the wind blows in the wrong direction and its hardship down the road. Who can you actually call and rely on things to get done in the right way?
  • [47:44] If you were to select a piece of wisdom around creating this successful career, what would it be? 
  • [50:08] Find what success means to you and think about ways to get there and make a list of things that give you energy and drain your energy and make sure the summary is on the plus because you will become successful sooner.

Quote from the Episode:

About the Host:

The host, Andrei Palamariu is the founder of Supplify where he and his team works on building a platform to connect the supply chain tech ecosystem. His most interesting discussions with the clients are focused on implementing the best technology, digital transformation, company growth and expansion, turnarounds, and product and business development.

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.

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