Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
In 2019, TAPA EMEA took the bold step to create a full-time professional leadership team to accelerate the Association’s growth in the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region and, more importantly, increase and future-proof the benefits it offers to members to support their cargo security and supply chain resilience programmes. 

Whilst this has represented a positive sea change in the way the Association is managed, TAPA EMEA has also remained true to its roots of leveraging the assistance of industry-leading volunteers, who give their time and expertise to support the professional team and help drive TAPA EMEA’s strategic development goals.

In this special edition, Vigilant speaks to Marcel Saarloos, Chair, of TAPA EMEA, Paul Linders, Vice Chair, and Treasurer, Björn Hartong, about their voluntary roles, the Association’s focus and progress, and their thoughts on the future…

Let’s start with a recap of your TAPA EMEA journey so far?

Marcel: I was originally volunteered by a colleague with the words “this would be really good for you”. I started as a contributor to the Standards Team and, later, joined the Board as lead for the Standards Team. I still like to think that this working group built the foundation for the Standards as we know them today. Of course, the programme has matured and is much more professional than when we started, but we always recognised the Standards as the backbone (as we often call them) of our Association. The one specific thing about the TAPA Standards which is still unique is that they are the only operational security standard for the industry, and they can easily be adopted in any contract or formal agreement. This is helping to make supply chains more secure and making life easier for the security managers enforcing them in their companies.

Paul: I’m proud to say that I have been involved from day 1. The first TAPA meeting in EMEA was only between 4 companies in Germany; Motorola (represented by Thorsten Neumann), TechData (Juergen Kempf); Compaq (George Wiessing), and Intel (Julian Hansen, Steve McHugh and myself). This was the start of TAPA EMEA. Since that day, I worked with Steve to develop the first FSR (Facility Security Requirements) documents and deliver training to support this Standard. When we grew and more members joined, TAPA EMEA set up a Board of Directors to manage all TAPA activities in the Europe, Middle East & Africa region and I joined the Board on day 1. In the years to follow, I became the global lead for the WWCCB (Worldwide Change Control Board) and held this role for over 15 years, during which we not only changed, updated and improved the FSR Standard six times, but we also developed the TSR (Trucking Security Requirements) and PSR (Parking Security Requirements), too. In all those years, I was a member of the Standards’ working group and a trainer for FSR and TSR. In the last 3 years, I handed over my role as global lead for the WWCCB to the other TAPA regions, but stayed on as lead for the CCB (Change Control Board) in EMEA. Next to this, I am now serving as Vice chair of TAPA EMEA and am one of the selected officers on the Advisory Board.

Björn: I joined TAPA EMEA just after it started up in EMEA nearly 24 years ago. The first years as an active member, I supported the Association’s new events but spent most of my time as a trainer for the TAPA Standards. These were live face-to-face training sessions at the time at member’s locations. In 2020, I decided to spend more time on the strategic side of the new TAPA EMEA organisation and ran for a Board function. In January 2021, I became the Advisory Board member looking after the treasury side of the Association. 

What experiences/skills from your day job benefit your TAPA EMEA role?

Marcel: Being responsible for supply chain security in my company’s EMEA region brings me to places or into situations in which you sometimes need to be a pioneer. I think everyone appreciated my presentation at our TAPA EMEA Conference in Berlin in 2013 about my adventures in Kazakhstan, for example, when my company was setting up a rail connection between China and Germany via the so-called Silk Road route. Here, we had to literally invent the entire security programme. Experiences like this make you understand the issues our members after often facing and the types of solutions they need to create. With the similar experiences and backgrounds among our Advisory Board members, our full-time professional leadership team, and working groups, TAPA EMEA and our members have a wealth of knowledge to benefit from.

Paul: Vision. Since I have worked over 25 years for manufacturers and logistics service providers, I have developed a clear view of what both parties need from a security perspective, and what’s most important to them. This knowledge was particularly useful in all my global discussions to revise and build up our Standards. It made me understand that some requirements did not benefit an LSP and some did not benefit manufacturers. Knowing and recognising this was very helpful in helping us  create the best fit-for-purpose Standards.

Björn: Firstly, the fact that I am a supply chain security professional allows me to understand the importance and value of what TAPA EMEA stands for. Secondly, the experience I have picked up and can use in my role working for an insurance company, where we support customers to reduce losses from their supply chains. Implementing the TAPA Standards and having an open, operational, and  risk-based discussion on supply chain security with all stakeholders has reduced their losses.

Also, my additional education efforts in business acumen/business management have paid off. We have to run our Association as a sort of company, with the vision and mission since the beginning to provide the best service for our members. This requires long-term strategic insight on a business level covering various fields other than supply chain security.

How would you sum up TAPA EMEA’s progress over the last 3 years?

Marcel: Often said, but, yes, a rollercoaster ride. Maybe not everyone realises the journey TAPA EMEA has been on but, some years ago now, it was identified that we could not continue the way we were if we wanted to grow and provide the best range of benefits for our members. Our volunteer Board members at that time were taking on more and more work and responsibilities on top of their demanding day jobs, and we could see this was not sustainable. We saw some good colleagues having to step down due to the workload the association was creating. We also recognised that new avenues needed to be explored because of changing market conditions and challenges, so we needed to make a strategic decision which would provide the best, long-term outcome for our members, and bring in a knowledgeable and full-time leadership team. Of course, a change like this is not straightforward. We’ve had some heated discussions and disagreements as we’ve worked to transition TAPA EMEA from a voluntary organisation to one with a full-time team but always with the shared objective of doing the best for the Association and our members. As we head towards our 25th anniversary in EMEA in 2025, I would say TAPA EMEA has now left its adolescent years behind and is now a grown-up, professional, and ambitious Association. If we look at everything achieved in the last three years, we can be proud that we took the right decisions to change course and we are now enjoying, and looking forward to more, new horizons.

Paul: It has grown enormously. Not only has our membership gone sky high, we’ve seen strong year-after-year growth in Standards’ certifications, in the level of interest from governments, and the need for TAPA EMEA to be a discussion partner in regional and global external working groups and events. The progress is unbelievable. TAPA EMEA has managed to control this growth in a great way. The structure we created with an Advisory Board and professional team was not only needed to control this growth, it was also the reason why we grew as we did, and continue to do so.  

Björn: Fun and hectic. The Association grew in membership and in professionalism, and this has required a new mindset in our team and in defining roles and responsibilities. We have had to learn how to grow. 

What have been your key focus areas for the Association over this period? 

Marcel: To support the professional team in running the shop. They are the ones sailing this ship and I try to be of help wherever and whenever I can. This can be anything like liaising with the other TAPA regions to providing my views and advice on new projects that the team has in mind.

Paul: Over the last 3 years as EMEA lead for the CCB, elected officer within the Advisory Board, and in the position of Vice Chair, my key focus has been to get the FSR and TSR Standards in shape, based on our members’ wishes, to participate in officers’ meetings and, where needed, overview all activities from our professional team as an Advisory Board member. 

Björn: Getting the Association ready in its new format where we have an Advisory Board and a professional operational team that provides excellent service to our members and spreads the word of TAPA EMEA. For that, we have changed the constitution and have done a lot of work behind the scenes. Our members can see the great results of it.

What more can be done to encourage companies to become TAPA FSR, TSR, or PSR certified? 

Marcel: Expanding our footprint, which we are currently doing to get even closer to the market, and more regional conferences like the one we recently hosted in South Africa. Another big help, from my own experience, is to embed and refer to TAPA EMEA in your contracts. 

Paul: It’s still seen that some companies simply don’t have a clear view of what TAPA is, what it does, and what it can do to benefit their own organisation. Since this is the main reason why thousands more companies have yet to join TAPA EMEA, we should focus on this even more. We need to advertise TAPA EMEA more and make our Standards, training, intelligence, and networking opportunities even more visible within the industry. The professional team is already doing a great job on this, but we still have a big task here because the growth potential is there to achieve. The TAPA product sells itself, we just need to put the Association is front of as many stakeholders as possible. 

Björn: I assume every security manager in charge of supply chain has heard of us now and many have, in same way or form, embedded our Standards, but there is still a lot to do. Supply chain security is in many companies still seen as a task for the security manager, whereas it actually has far more effect if all stakeholders in the supply chain look at the overall impact for a company. Upgrading your supply chain to the TAPA Standards leads to impressive improvements and cost reductions.

What would help to increase TAPA EMEA’s sources of cargo crime incident intelligence?  

Marcel: Apart from the information from the members, “from the horse’s mouth,” and our law enforcement agency partners, it would also be great if we can win the insurance world to share incident data. I know we are doing it through partnerships, such as with TT Club and the German Insurance Association, but I am sure there is still a world to win.

Paul: For some companies, reporting losses from their supply chains is still seen as a sign of weakness, even though TAPA EMEA never records or shares the identities of victim companies in its TAPA EMEA Intelligence System (TIS) database. So, this perception must be taken away. More information that it’s in all our benefit to share incident intelligence might help to pull more loss reports across the line. Also, the benefits should be clear. I would like some members to tell us how they have used our incident data to analyse supply chain risks and prevent losses because this would help companies to see the benefits. 

Björn: If all members that own the cargo reported their losses, that would be a game changer. Freight forwarders cannot report the losses as they are not the owners of the goods and insurance companies do not get a full overview of all the losses due to the own deductibles and self-insured solutions that are in place. The owner of the cargo has all the details.

What can/should members expect from TAPA EMEA?

Marcel: First and foremost, an organisation that makes the lives of security professionals in the supply chain easier. TAPA EMEA provides all the right tools for risk assessments, security Standards, training, and crime statistics and demographics. Secondly, and I cannot emphasise this enough, the network. Those of us in supply chain security sometimes speak a different language that is only understood by those ‘in the same boat’. And, last but not least, a professional, dedicated team to help our members further.

Paul: A solid and trusted network; good, updated and for-the-industry to use security Standards; constructive data to be used to secure supply chains in the best way; globally recognised and approved standards and certifications. Support where needed. 

Björn: Members can expect that TAPA EMEA remains an Association that will continue to push its Standards and TIS to provide members (and non-members) with tools to understand their risks and to help to manage them accordingly. We will continue to train members and support where possible in the line of supply chain security. What members should expect in the future is that this Association will strive to remain the leading standard in supply chain security, but still based on member input. Members are the driving force behind the Association. 

Education is also an important part of investing in the future. Security managers are increasingly dealing with more than just security or logistics people and need to understand that way of working. Business acumen is going to play a larger role for the security managers dealing with various stakeholders. TAPA EMEA will also support the further education of its members.

What are your goals for TAPA EMEA over the next 3 years?   

Marcel: Like any organisation achieving exponential growth, we sometimes need to take a step back and look at what we have done and achieved. It has been a rollercoaster journey, but in a good way. I think we are at the point now where we can sail and set course to new horizons. I already mentioned a couple of times the expansion of our footprint on a regional (country) level. And, above all, to increase our role as a serious partner, representing our members from the supply chain to Governmental organisations such as the EU, law enforcement, such as Interpol and Europol, and also national police organisations. 

Paul: Unclear yet as to what my goals should or could be since I’m planning to retire within the next 1-2 years, so my personal relationship with TAPA EMEA might be gone. It’s up to the TAPA EMEA organisation about where and how they might like to use my TAPA experience and knowledge. For me personally, I’m available to continue the work for TAPA.

Björn: Although we have done great in EMEA overall in the last 3 years, there are still areas in EMEA where our footprint is smaller than other areas and where members need support. One of my wishes or goals is to emphasise local support by arranging more regional/country meetings with local experts, sharing information, and building up a network to fight their local challenges in a united approach. Together, we can achieve more than individually. As TAPA EMEA, we can facility that and make sure experience is shared across the EMEA region. 

TAPA EMEA is broadening its focus from just cargo crime to include other issues relating to supply chain resilience. Is that still the best direction for the Association?

Marcel: The time to limit ourselves to just having a security focus is over. When I look at my own function within my company, I see a significant shift as well. Where I used to be focusing primarily on audits and investigations, I am now part of project teams addressing new lanes, crisis situations, and changing markets. It is an evolution that TAPA EMEA recognised at an early stage. 

Paul: As long we don’t forget the basic ground TAPA was built on, we should indeed focus on different subjects as well. Go with the flow I would say, and since resilience is so important, we should not look the other way but take this onboard if this is what our membership wants. 

Björn: Supply chain resilience is a very wide scope and having an operational supply chain that works and no cargo goes missing is very important, but supply chain security is only a component adding to supply chain resilience. There are many other components like supplier selection, supplier diversification, idle production space in facilities, back-up supply chains, and more where security plays a role but is, in many cases, not the main decision maker. The expertise of (supply chain) security managers can definitely contribute to building up a resilient supply chain. Supplier selection, for instance, is where security can support in-country/area risk checks, and site security checks of suppliers, to double check if the supplier is actually able to deliver and has taken all risks into consideration. Selecting a supplier that cannot deliver as he gets robbed all the time is not adding to a resilient supply chain.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Marcel: I am extremely proud to be the Chairman of TAPA EMEA and, alongside my predecessors, to be contributing at an industry level and supporting an Association that has come such a long way. It has brought me so much satisfaction, and I am sure it is not the end yet! I hope to meet as many members as possible at our RESILIENCE@RISKConference in Amsterdam.

Paul: For me, TAPA EMEA is like ‘my child’.  I was there when it was born and now, almost 24 years later, it’s grown up, able to answer all questions, equipped to face all supply chain challenges, and ready for the next decade. Since it’s me that will retire, it feels doubly difficult to let TAPA go when we have seen so much growth and progress. It will not be easy. But, as we also see with our own children, when they grew up and leave the house, the parents must take a step back and enjoy watching them develop. 

Björn:  Security in general and supply chain security, in particular, may not be a topic that gets most attention within companies, but the impact has proven to be considerable. It is now attracting attention on a level where it should. Security managers are being asked to take up their role in supply chain resilience, and they have to.

Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer 
Guiding growth – a Q&A with TAPA EMEA’s Chair, Vice Chair & Treasurer