Madhav Kurup: Redefining the Present and Reshaping the Future of Logistics

Madhav Kurup
Madhav Kurup | Regional CEO for the Middle East & South Asia, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics

There was a man to whom family always came first. Going by the name of Carl Heinrich Hellmann, the German founded what is today renowned as Hellmann Worldwide Logistics in 1871 in northern Germany’s Osnabrueck, as a one-man transporting goods business with a single horse-drawn carriage. Carl’s long-established legacy had been inherited and carried over by his family as a family business, which has evolved over four generations into one of the largest international logistics providers.

Today, with €4.07 billion in turnovers, Hellmann is present in 59 countries with 264 offices and has 12,348 employees as part of the Hellmann F.A.M.I.L.Y. all over the world. Considering Hellmann’s global partner network, its reach spans across 173 countries with 489 offices.

Madhav Kurup, Regional CEO for the Middle East and South Asia became a Hellmann F.A.M.I.L.Y. member during the most trying and testing times for the industries world over including Hellmann. He reveals, “My journey with Hellmann started during one of the worst global financial crisis in 2008 that coincided with the local Dubai real estate crisis.”

Due to the challenging economic environment, Hellmann was also facing some serious challenges in the region to create a sustainable business model. When Madhav started, they had around 100 employees in the region and today they have more than 2500 of their own employees and more than 3500 through their contracts and partners.

Today, Hellmann has achieved a leadership position in some niche verticals like automotive spare parts and healthcare. Hellmann also further expanded and created specialized solutions in the fashion vertical in Sri Lanka, chemical in the UAE, healthcare in Saudi Arabia, and also E-commerce specialization in the UAE.

Madhav shares, “Since its foundation in 1871, Hellmann has developed into one of the largest international logistics providers. With our high-performance products Airfreight, Seafreight, Road and Rail, and Contract Logistics, we always offer the right solution for the complex logistics requirements of our customers and rely on future-oriented digital services for maximum transparency and more efficient supply chains.”

An Admirable Leadership of Prominence

According to Madhav, a prominent business leader should possess some unique traits like integrity, passion, ability to identify opportunities and translate into revenue in a sustainable way. He must be humble and always available for people.

Along with these prominent traits, there are some professional qualities and values which are admired the most by Madhav’s clients, colleagues, and employees in him. “I believe people find me easy to approach and genuine, someone who is reliable and can always be counted on, yet also a visionary who can turn ideas into reality,” says Madhav.

Thinking Ahead–Moving Forward

As per Madhav, there are some unique offering and aspects which makes Hellmann not only stand out in the Gulf region’s economy but also constantly provide forward momentum.

Hellmann is represented in the MESA region for more than 20 years, in 19 countries with around 80 locations and all product segments through its own offices and partners. It has grown in the region through geographical expansion and carefully created joint ventures.

Madhav states, “Our biggest operation in the region is in India, with almost 700 employees. Our strategy is to take globally benchmarked solutions into the key markets of the region, as a part of our geographical expansion.”

Hellmann has achieved market leadership in automotive spare parts logistics and healthcare. Its niche vertical operations also include chemical warehousing in the UAE and fashion in Sri Lanka. Its most recent innovation into the E-commerce space has helped it to sign an exclusive partnership with Dubai CommerCity for warehousing and last mile.

Madhav believes, “Our “first people – first” approach, and customer-centric solutions, have helped Hellmann to be among the top five global providers in the region.”

This approach is a part of a broader values system ingrained in the brand Hellmann and its every family member. Madhav tells us how?

F.A.M.I.L.Y – Our Corporate DNA

Hellmann is a 100% family-owned global logistics provider with more than 150 years of existence. It has grown over the years through geographical expansion and carefully taken decisions. Madhav shares, “we are committed to what family means: integrity, understanding, trust, and cooperation. This is the basis of our corporate DNA. Our common goal is to ensure the long-term development of Hellmann so that the company can continue to offer many opportunities for future generations.

Our number one priority has always been our people and our customers, and we always live by this across the organization globally. We always believe in building long-lasting relationships with our customers through innovation and entrepreneurship.

In short: Hellmann means F.A.M.I.L.Y.

First, people first: The success of a company depends on its employees. That is why, at Hellmann, an attractive and professional environment is created, which captivates, binds, and promotes the interest of good employees. Through training, remuneration, and recognition, the company encourages its employees to develop their talents in a climate of mutual respect and trust. They determine how the company is perceived externally. Madhav says, “They directly influence the satisfaction, enthusiasm, and loyalty of our customers and we know that.” That is why people always come first.

All about the customer, always: Madhav says that they are constantly looking for ways to expand and improve their services so that they can exceed the requirements and expectations of their customers. Madhav adds, “It is our goal to offer our customers around the world the knowledge and experience they need most. We achieve this by listening to them and taking the time to get to know them better. The customer is always our focus. We ensure that all our tasks are handled with a view to our customers. This leads to long-term customer relationships, which we are rightly proud of.”

Making it work better, everyday: Through business processes with high-quality standards, Hellmann is continuously improving its organizational agility and operational efficiency. It uses every opportunity to increase efficiency by improving productivity and maintaining excellent supplier relationships. “As a result, we not only contribute to our results but also improve the added value for our customers. In addition, we consistently live the Continuous Improvement Process (CIP),” says Madhav.

Innovation and entrepreneurship: At Hellmann, they promote creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit in all areas and create an environment in which risks are allowed. It encourages its employees to develop unconventional ideas and to drive the adaptation of its services to its customers’ wishes. Madhav states, “We want to meet the constantly changing requirements and expectations of our customers.”

Live sustainability: “At Hellmann, we are serious about providing services on the principles of economical, ecological and social sustainability to create opportunities for future generations. We are sensitive and responsible to people, communities and environments within the regions in which we are active,” expresses Madhav. Through these principles of sustainable development, Hellmann ensures the future of its family-owned business.

You and me!: “Every day, we set new goals and face new challenges. Whether it is a successful shipment, a change of work process, or new concepts that are still under development – You and Me!’ makes it possible,” says  Madhav. The guiding principle stands for mutual responsibility. Madhav adds, “A responsibility that gives us support in times when we have to rely on each other. ‘You and Me!’ also stands for cooperation which encourages us to support others and to motivate us to develop solutions together for our customers.”

Triumphing through Crises by Establishing Purpose

Considering the current industry scenario, Madhav accepts that there are some key challenges which Hellmann is triumphantly encountering. He reveals, “The biggest challenge facing our industry is attracting and retaining good talent along with the cultural change in the digital transformation process. The logistics industry has earned some level of respect during the pandemic by establishing purpose. Young people are looking for a purpose in their professional pursuits. Global organizations like us will create global talent pools to help young talents to have international experience and seek to create similar working environments like other fancier industries.”   

A Futuristic Wisdom

Madhav’s advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the logistics space is ultramodern. He says that the industry is evolving as many players are entering this space i.e.: shipping lines, port operators, online marketplace operators etc. Be prepared to invest in technology and its people. NO shortcuts here.

Shaping Today’s and Tomorrow’s Logistics

Being an experienced leader, Madhav’s opinion on how the adoption of modern technologies like AI and ML impacts the logistics industry and how Hellmann is adapting to the change is noteworthy.

He says that technology is already an important player in the scheme of things within our industry, though logistics generally is a very reactive industry to trends. The hype about emerging technology needs to be looked at more practically for its effectiveness. “I can safely say AI and BC are already playing a major role in our digital transformation process,” says Madhav.

When probed on how he envisions scaling Hellmann’s operations and offerings in 2022 and beyond, Madhav concludes, “We have expanded into Oman and Egypt and further established a solid E-commerce fulfilment center at Dubai Commerce City.”

Hellmann’s Hall of Fame

  • Transport & Logistics Middle East award for Hellmann UAE in the category

  of Freight Forwarding for Heroes of the Pandemic.

  • “FMCG SUPPLY CHAIN OF THE YEAR 2021 award for Hellmann UAE.
  • Hellmann BD received the airline awards of appreciation by Qatar Airlines.
  • Hellmann IN recognized as “The Best Freight Forwarder of the Year” in the 12th Express Logistics and Supply Chain Conclave.