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Lisette Nap

VP Business Development - Global Ocean Freight

I was born in Eindhoven in the Netherlands and moved to Australia at the age of 2.  When I lived in Australia I moved 18 times touching 4 different states and attended 12 schools. It was the entrepreneurial spirit of my father, Dutch born, that motivated this lifestyle of change and regular relocation. The fact that I was moving constantly during my childhood has made it easier for me to learn how to adapt to new environments, to get settled easily and make friends quickly. This has helped me throughout my career immensely and my great role model, my dad, taught me the importance of being curious and open to new cultures, integrate with authenticity and find the richness within every individual.

After successfully finishing my secondary school in Australia, I was accepted and began my Bachelor of Behavioral Science (Psychology) studies at the Griffith University, Queensland. Recognizing after 1 year that I was simply too young to be diving into the complex minds of mankind, I decided to get out into the world and experience life first hand as opposed to behind a text book. So, began my career in hospitality industry starting as part of the restaurant team in a busy hotel chain in Brisbane Queensland, soon thereafter being asked to relocate to Adelaide to take on role of Restaurant Manager within the same hotel chain. So, there I was, on a plane, 21years of age, on my way to yet another new place and about to endeavor in the beginning of a dynamic career that has since then remained dynamic and exciting. No regrets.

Throughout my time in hospitality Australia, it was clear for me that I would one day go back to my country of birth: a feeling I had had since a young age with a huge curiosity and desire to simply connect and see where my personality started. Thus, with that, at the age of 23 and within 4 weeks, I sold my belongings, ended the contract for my rental flat, said goodbye to family and friends, bought a one-way ticket to Netherlands and with a suitcase in my hands, off I went to my next life chapter in Europe on a new journey of discovery and culture. No regrets.

“You are the owner of your destiny. You are the driver. Don’t sit back and expect that the world will come to you.”

After some years travelling around Europe and exploring different places and jobs, I finally was introduced to the company Scansped (now DB Schenker) in 1998. Starting in data entry for customer ICL computers in Tilburg and various positions later taking role as Office Manager at the now Schenker Beringe where I was responsible for the IBM back office and customer service operations, managing a team of 10 and a 24/7/365 working environment. After a short few years, I was then offered to join the Schenker Rotterdam team as Business Development Manager for the ILC (Integrated Logistics Center) and Tender Manager Netherlands. “Each time I move into a new role, I become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses. My ability to define my areas for improvement as well as leverage and maximize my strengths has become stronger over the years.” The new position in Rotterdam offered me the opportunity to travel overseas and that’s what I had experienced and loved already from my childhood. No regrets.

Soon thereafter came the position as Global Account Manager Philips with a direct report into Key Account Management Essen, Germany. WOW Head office!!! I felt proud. I felt nervous. I felt excited. This career move was a key milestone in my international Schenker future.   In this role, I could develop my listening skills and strategy skills further, translating customer requirements to Schenker network. I could explore the international business scene gaining solid experience in business communications with all nationalities and characters. Additionally, I expanded my internal Schenker network dealing with stakeholders in all regions and departments to design and fulfill an account development strategy.  No regrets.

After a few years and a short 10 month stint with an external company, I received a call from Schenker checking in on how my life was developing and talking to me about some new opportunities. Considering I had left the company with a tear in my eye, I was only too happy to explore how to fly the Schenker flag again. Thus, after only a short 4 weeks the decision was made and I took on the new challenge based in Singapore for sales APAC, to head up some accounts and eventually VM Healthcare. The almost 4 years in APAC were invaluable to my career development and simply an experience not to be missed. Hard work. New cultures. Great people. All of my senses activated and everyday a new learning.  Then the day arrived where the time had come for the next change. My return to Europe in April 2012 was guided by my quite concrete vision on my next career step. I was asked “So Lisette, what is it exactly you are looking for?”. My reply was “I want to work for Head Office in a global role, I want to report to at least an SVP level in the organization, I want to have a global team and I want to “drive” change”. I am convinced this degree of clarity also got me what I wanted. I very quickly received and accepted the role of Director of Global Tender Management Air, Ocean & Land. A pivotal role for me in Schenker across the past years where my focus turned to processes, strategy, customers and the power of winning together.  No regrets.

If today I was asked that same question about my next career step, my reply also today would be concrete. “I would love to be an MD of a country. How fun would that be.” I have absolutely had and still have a great and dynamic career and I still have many plans for the future. And here thus my message to those keen to explore all there is in this life: dare to dream, dare to map out a plan, ensure you have some answer to the question “What would you like to do?”, map skills you need, and have no fear to take the leap to that next great job. Go for it. No regrets.  

Today I am Vice President Global Ocean Business Development with a fantastic diverse team spread across all geographies. It was a very conscious decision to change my position one more time and go to the “product”, because this is one step towards going for the position that I am aiming for. Reaching the goal cannot be a matter of luck. Drive your future. Know what you want, focus on it and plan for it. No regrets.  

My career path has been a successful one because I was positively challenged to be the best I could be in all the positions that I have held, I have been fully supported and I have enjoyed a great mix of experiences across the globe both inside and outside Schenker. No regrets.

Life has provided me with an array of opportunities. But again, it is not luck and not just being in the right place at the right time. As drivers of our own destiny we need to recognize the opportunity to take, the attitude to have, the curiosity and honesty and authenticity to have to embrace the moments put in front of us giving us that next great chapter. I am fortunate. I am grateful. But I’m also a believer that it is my hard work and commitment that have helped give me the rich career I have enjoyed and hope to continue to enjoy.   No regrets.

If you want to achieve good results you must put a lot of determination in your work and that can mean long hours and hard-working hours. One of the definite areas of improvement for me is work - life balance. I definitely seem addicted to long hours, but my days are filled with combination of exciting leadership areas around process management, coaching, mentoring, customer, presenting, market interpretation and development, lecturing DAV Bremen, steering Women in Business group (WIB) : many of these elements that make up my day I do not see as work and thus in fact as part of my work/life balance. Good news is that on the days when I may feel overwhelmed I can turn to the strong support of a great team and peers to rebuild the energy and focus. One team, One goal. No regrets.  

Networks as these are key in one’s life and career. I have the good fortune of having surrounded myself with amazing peers, superiors who value me, friends who understand me and a husband who knows how to manage me J I am a very independent female, but it is my husband Pieter who helps to keep me grounded and keep it “real”. Ironically many of you would not recognize me at home. I am a real homemaker, softer, introvert, love to spoil family and friends with cooking and fun events, a cuddly grandmother that spends most time building makes believe worlds and learning from the fascinating freedom and creativity of my grandkids. Thus, I am reminded that there is absolutely more to life than work. I want to be successful in all I do and the balance in all areas really is critical. I am in a continuous evaluation of my roles: am I bringing value in my job, am I a good wife, grandmother, friend, daughter, sister, peer, coach, citizen. It all matters. It is all part of the deliverable. It is all part of my plan to be the best I can be. No regrets.

So, looking back, is there anything I would change…………. under the umbrella of “no regrets” actually not. But if I had to respond with some reflection then I would say a) would have liked to have learnt more languages, any languages! Learn as many languages as you can. With languages, you can talk to the whole world, with language you get closer to the culture. Communication is key. b) For individual skills, I would have focused earlier more on project and process management. C) As for personality, I would have liked to be more confident, just believing in myself. I have waisted so much time questioning myself, doubting in myself, thinking people do not value me, thinking I am not good enough. This feeling still creeps in sometimes. But the older you get you start getting more of the “I am who I am and I like who I am and I cannot please everyone all the time” attitude and lastly I reiterate d) articulating what you want, even if the dream changes along the way, but that is no issue, but when someone asks, have an answer as it might just change your futureJ  Funnily enough I wanted to do everything: be a psychologist, run a B&B, run a restaurant, be a lawyer, veterinarian, singer ha ha :  I was so curious that I wanted to try everything. I wish I could have focused earlier on one thing but I have come to accept that is just part of me, my personality, I find so many things fascinating.   

So now in closing, some final words of recommendation to fellow employees would be:

  • Do not give up, keep the belief and stay true to yourself.
  • Surround yourself with a good support network, find mentors, find peers, find people in your personal life, who will support you when you develop and when you need them. Look for examples of people that you would like to be one day or positions or roles that you want to have.
  • Try to be as clear as possible in what you want. It is not easy, but it is necessary for a person to map out what he or she wants to do in life, create clarity on what it is you are looking for. Put your target on paper, use colors, diagrams, pictures, mind mapping, any tool that would help you visualize. Grab a big piece of paper and have fun planning your future, decide on who you want to be, what you want to do.
  • Take the risk, when the opportunity comes, grab it and do not let go, go for it and do not be scared. The worst case that could happen is that you will learn something from the failure but then you will still be able to move on.