Glen Clark, CEO of DP World US and Mexico, shares why agility is key in a rapidly evolving world 

As a global leader in supply chain solutions, DP World specializes in cargo logistics, port terminal operations, maritime services, and free trade zones. With an extensive career spanning contract logistics, freight forwarding, and direct line operations, Glen Clark currently serves as the CEO of the US and Mexico, and Head of Contract Logistics for the Americas at DP World.  

It’s no secret that supply chains across the globe have struggled with several challenges and complexities, but the Covid-19 pandemic particularly highlighted that the supply chain function should be high on a company’s priority list. We catch up with Glen to gain an insight into his reflections on the last few years, as well as why it’s an exciting time to be part of DP World.  

“I took a job working in logistics around 37 years ago, and it’s been an exciting road to navigate ever since,” Glen opens. “My background prior to that was in transportation, but I’ve since worked mainly in operational support, whether it be engineering, quality assurance, safety, or efficiency. I approach any role by focusing on how the processes, people, and systems interact to ensure our capabilities meet the evolving needs of our customers.  

“I became part of DP World through their acquisition of Syncreon in 2021, where I had progressed to Executive Vice President of Global Operations Excellence and Engineering. I’ve been in my current role since January 2023, and it’s certainly a very exciting time to be part of DP World with the numerous changes and opportunities that are being presented to us.  

“We’re on a transitional journey, moving from what I call the economic zone, or in other words, the ports and terminals side of the business, and towards becoming a leading smart trade enabler. Our technology looks at a business from end to end, identifying the most pressing customer needs to then provide effective solutions. We’re linking our services together and adding capabilities through acquisitions like that of Imperial Logistics, UNICO, and CFR Rinkens.  

“In the Americas specifically, we’ve extended our operational footprint to nine countries: Canada, the US, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru. We operate around 14 ports and terminals across the region, as well as multiple contract logistics facilities. It has been great to see our continuous development, as we’ve also been in the process of opening around 17 freight forwarding branches over the last 18 months.”  

Sustainability imperative 

As our conversation turns to the challenges facing supply chain functions across the globe, Glen explains: “For many companies, it’s been a case of surviving more than thriving. There have been too many disruptions to list – the pandemic, evolving sustainability requirements, the disruption caused by geopolitical conflict, and issues with canals.  

“These challenges have resulted in operational changes, causing companies to reevaluate and de-risk their supply chain. Aside from circumstantial challenges, the market is rapidly evolving. Take retail, for example, we’ve seen huge shifts from stores to online retail, or in the automotive industry, companies have had to adapt their supply chain to service electric vehicles.  

“From an American standpoint, there’s been a huge shift towards nearshoring, which has become critical to ensure a smoother transition of goods. At DP World, we’ve just set up a regional distribution center in the Dominican Republic to help us import goods and services from across the Caribbean.  

“With the market changing so quickly, we’re tasked with working alongside our customers to identify what impact they will have and find strategic solutions. Most are looking at three areas – sustainability, creativity, and agility – to ensure the movement of supply even in difficult circumstances. Companies that have the ability to be agile, creative, and assess sustainability across their supply chain are the ones that find true value in the assistance of businesses like DP World.” 

On the topic of sustainability, Glen delves into the ways in which DP World is striving to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040, and Net Zero by 2050. “During my career, I’ve witnessed sustainability go from something customers requested, to a business imperative,” says Glen. “Our customers are increasingly looking to reduce their environmental impact, so we’re leveraging collaborative partnerships to reach mutual sustainability goals.  

“The intersection of automation and sustainability is a powerful tool, and one that I believe will be the future of our business. Automation is not only an efficiency tool, but also a sustainability tool, especially from a disruption perspective, as we can use automation to offset volume variability. 

“We’ve recently implemented a new automated solution, for example, which selects the most appropriate box for each package,” he adds. “This avoids overusing cardboard to minimize waste, as well as resulting in better efficiency for transportation, as we can transport more packages in each truck, meaning it reduces our carbon emissions too.”  

People and processes 

Glen is also passionate about supporting employees, both across the business and within the supply chain function specifically. “There are three keys to success in any business – people, processes, and systems – and you have to leverage all three simultaneously to succeed,” Glen states. “On the people side, we must try to attract great talent, as well as build a positive, creative company culture that allows individuals to grow.  

“As the supply chain becomes more complex, there must be a greater focus on talent development. It’s important that we not only invest in assets and systems, but also people, with a focus on upskilling the workforce and equipping future generations with the skills required to handle the industry’s evolving landscape.” 

Having navigated the numerous changes and challenges the supply chain has seen in recent years, Glen shares his final reflections. “Since the pandemic, organizations have realized the crucial role supply chains play in their overall operations, and the function has become much more prominent in business discussions and planning,” he reflects. “There’s more emphasis on the power of collaboration too, and here at DP World, we’re making investments in freight forwarding, contract logistics, economic zones, and our ports and terminals, so that we can be better prepared to offer increased capabilities and agile solutions. 

“Some economists are reporting the warning signs of recession, so there’s still legitimate concern in the industry over the economy and geopolitical tension, and the potential disruption they could cause,” Glen concludes. “However, for us, 2024 is a year of investment, growth, and execution. In collaboration with our customers, we’ll continue to use our assets, people, and systems to explore ways to plan for disruptions and find alternative solutions to de-risk the supply chain.”