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April 19, 2023 | 29 Mins Read

A Logistics Leader’s Perspective on Innovation, Digital Transformation, Diversity and More

April 19, 2023 | 29 Mins Read

A Logistics Leader’s Perspective on Innovation, Digital Transformation, Diversity and More


Sarah welcomes Trine Storgaard Nielsen, Head of EMEA Ocean at Flexport, for a discussion on drive, strategy, innovation, being a working mother, fostering greater diversity of thought, and much more.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we're going to be getting a logistics leader's perspective on innovation, digital transformation, diversity, and more. I'm excited to welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast Trine Nielsen who is the head of Ocean, EMEA, at Flexport. Trine, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Trine Nielsen: Thank you so much, Sarah. I'm so excited to be here.

Sarah Nicastro: I'm happy to have you. Okay, we're going to talk about a lot of things today. But before we get into it all, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, your role, anything you want to share about you.

Trine Nielsen: All right, thank you. So my name is Trine, as you mentioned. I'm 38. I am Danish. Apologize for the accent to everyone. I have 18 years of experience in the logistics industry. I have lived in four different countries during those 18 years, and I have primarily spent my time in commercial roles, actually ranging all the way from a back office in Mumbai, India and to being customer-facing and dealing with clients directly.

Before joining Flexport, one of my most recent roles was in Twill, which was a corporate innovation in Maersk. Maersk is a big carrier in the logistics industry. And I think if I've had quite a few jobs, that's how you work in Maersk. But if I had to talk about some personal characteristic, sorry, then I focus a lot on customer outcomes. I am very passionate about leadership and I care a lot about the impact that I make when I go to work. Now, I've joined Flexport, which is super exciting. It is a tech company in the logistics industry. The purpose is to make global trade easy for everyone, which is something that personally I'm very excited about.

And on a personal note, I have my boyfriend Casper and we have little Vigo who is 20 months old. So also a recently new mom.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. So a lot going on, which is exciting.

Trine Nielsen: Yes.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Trine and I had the opportunity to meet and have lunch in Copenhagen not too long ago which was awesome because a lot of times, I have folks on the podcast that I don't actually get the chance to meet in person. And it's your energy for innovation and creating new offerings to help customers achieve their outcomes is what I found really interesting about you. So I'm excited to talk about that all a little bit more.

I came across Trine, her LinkedIn profile, because you were doing some content with Frank Mattes. Frank Mattes, who has been on the podcast before, spoke at our Frankfurt live tour event last year and he wrote the Lean Scaleup. So if you all haven't listened to that podcast, I'll put it in the show notes. It's definitely worth a listen. But his content is a lot related to scaling innovation, so figuring out for organizations how they come up with these new ideas, but don't keep them in a bubble or let them fizzle out, but rather integrate them into the broader business. And that's something you have experience with, which we'll talk a bit about later. But when I came across to your profile, I loved the opening line of your bio on LinkedIn. You said, "I go to work to make a difference every day for customers, the company, and for people around me." What I wanted to ask you about that is how do you know when you are accomplishing that mission?

Trine Nielsen: That is a good question. Coming from a digital transformation background, one thing I've learned to appreciate a lot is data. I think there's two aspects to how I look at that. There's the data-driven aspect and then there's the more personal, empathetic feeling around it. When looking at data, I think in my past roles what I've focused a lot on is NPS. So really, how happy are customers with the service that we're delivering? And I've actually in the past spent a lot of time understanding in more detail exactly what is the customer feedback.

I've been fortunate also to work with employee engagement tools. I have experience with Gallup and Officevibe, so the old school and the new school, which I find, especially Officevibe, is something that I've used very actively with my teams. And also if you work in a global environment, you can keep track of the engagement constantly. You can go down to quite detailed levels. That, I have used a lot as a leader to make sure that the teams that I'm dealing with are feeling engaged.

And then of course from a company perspective, I know at the end of the day, a lot is about profit. I think also the impact on society is something that is being measured a lot more. But I know at the end of the day, working for a company, you need to deliver the profit. So to me, the perfect triangle of creating that positive impact is to deliver very exceptional on all of those three aspects.

And then I think the more personal, to me, feedback is a gift. I'm used to getting a lot of feedback from people around me and I actively ask for it. And then seeing especially growth in people, seeing customers being able to deliver better results because we have helped them out. I think it's the more softer aspects that it's not as analytically driven, but where I feel that there's a lot of things to measure as well.

Sarah Nicastro:I think it's those wins that resonate emotionally that keep you energized about that mission, you know?

Trine Nielsen: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. Okay, so if you look back at your career trajectory, a lot of your roles have in common that there's a vision to grow and transform, and you've played various roles in helping bring that vision to life in a meaningful way. What that makes me think a little bit about is how sometimes we get a little bit stuck or lost in the differences between vision and strategy. So can you talk a little bit about what each of those means to you and why they're both important?

Trine Nielsen: Yeah. To me, the vision is the greater purpose. It's how you look at the future and the impact that you want to deliver in the future. If we look at the vision that we had in Twill, it was about leveling the playing field in global logistics. We found that a lot of small companies were always being down-prioritized in terms of space, especially during Corona, by the way. There was not enough space. And typically, it's the big corporations who then have the power to get the space. And I think I've always rooted for the underdog. And I think to really breed innovation, a lot of it will come from small entrepreneurs. So we had this vision of leveling the playing field, especially for someone who just has one container. I think that vision sets the direction and gives the connection and feeling of purpose when you go to work.

And our strategy was much more related to how do we then enable that vision. One of the big game changers in logistics, I think, was the entrance of technology. I completely understand why small companies have not been prioritized in the past because moving a container from A to B is a commoditized business. The thing is, when technology comes into play, it actually changes the environment. And you can build very effective solutions that can make dealing with the small guys much more profitable than it was in the past. But in the past with the profit margins, when there's pressure on everything, you optimize for scale. You drive economies of scale. So I think for me, the strategy was all about technology and how to solve the problems through technology. But the vision was something that was closer to my heart in terms of okay, let's make this equal for all.

Sarah Nicastro: And I think when I think about our audience, leadership level mostly in service and across a variety of industries. When I think about people that are maybe similar to you in their desire to innovate and see innovation come to life, and wanting to look for ways to do new things, to be creative, to have that vision, not just for incremental improvement but for real change and growth, it makes me think about the vision is so important to make sure there's alignment on.

Because sometimes, I've talked to individual leaders who their vision for where the company could go or where the service offerings could go or where the technology landscape could go, whatever it is, and the company's vision, they're not aligned. And then it makes someone like you who is energized by seeing this stuff come to life just get very frustrated. Because if you are someone who's innovation-minded working for an organization who is not, then you're going to feel very stuck. So I think that vision is yes, that mission, but making sure that there's alignment on that vision throughout the organization, that you as an individual feel like you're in a place that has a vision that's fits what you want to do in your career is really important.

The other thing I was going to say is what you were saying about Twill and leveling the playing field, it made me think of a conversation that I had on the podcast with a gentleman named Alec Anderson who is the managing director for an organization called Koolmill with a K. And they're a very innovative company that manufactures rice mills. I learned so much about rice milling that I didn't know before. But it's really cool because their machines are innovative in and of their own, but they're using an as a service business model, which is disruptive in that industry because it's typically been incredibly expensive CapEx equipment that to your point, a lot of smaller rice mills could not afford or could not afford to update, could not afford to maintain, et cetera. So from a competitive standpoint, they were at an extreme disadvantage, oftentimes not even able to really sustain because it was almost like the industry was just targeting the very top level of these producers.

And so we had a really interesting conversation about how technology and shifting business models can democratize innovation. Because what they've been able to do is not only introduce innovative equipment but do so using a business model that makes it attainable to everyone, from the largest to the very smallest mills. And it's really interesting when you think about how that does level the playing field and change the game when it comes to making innovation accessible to everyone. So it's really cool parallel in what you're talking about.

Trine Nielsen: And I think one of the things that I was extremely proud of when there was the total logistics chaos during the COVID pandemic, we managed to protect companies who would've never... Companies would've gone bankrupt because they didn't have any goods to sell, and we managed to protect them in the most highly pressed capacity situation ever in the industry. And innovation can be a lot of things. To me, it's also sometimes about changing mindsets about business models and so forth. And I feel proud that at least we were able to really make a massive difference for a number of companies, and technology was a part of that. But maybe we helped a few innovative companies actually survive, and I hope the business is thriving still today.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's really cool. And you talked about your mission. That's goes back to making a real difference.

Trine Nielsen: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So I want to talk about digital transformation has been a through line in different roles you've had. If we think specifically about Twill, bringing that concept from that vision to reality. We talked a lot about digital transformation and the way it enables a lot of change, and I just want to talk through some of the aspects that are important to consider and get your perspective. The first you mentioned at the beginning of the conversation which is always focusing on customer outcomes, can you talk a little bit about that?

Trine Nielsen: Yeah. I think there's many ways that you can look at a business model, and I've now seen many cases from many different companies. But I think in an industry that has historically been extremely product-driven, it has become commoditized. It is so easy to focus on productivity, economies of scale, and so forth. I think my learning in the digital transformation area is that if you focus on how to actually solve customer problems and trying to do that in a different way, so by focusing all of your efforts on delivering positive outcomes to customers, a lot of the other topics will actually follow. Customers will be willing to pay a little bit more because the value is there. But so if you take a process, you can focus on making that process extremely effective. But if you focus on delivering high quality outcomes to the customer, the effectiveness will often come along.

So I think what we were very successful in was to sometimes in the short term accept that we were not perfect on effectiveness, but over time we would be much more effective because we were so dedicated to delivering a specific outcome to the customer.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. I think when we talk about the potential of outcomes-based service, like I often say, when it's done right, it's very mutually beneficial. So to your point, if you are leading with that in mind, a lot of what you're trying to accomplish internally or efficiency-wise, et cetera, can come because you're focusing on what your customers value.

You mentioned earlier you're a huge fan of data. So how does that factor in when it comes to digital transformation? And I'm thinking either from the perspective of making sure you are achieving what you've set out to achieve in your transformation, but also leveraging data from the standpoint of customer value proposition.

Trine Nielsen:  love customers. And customers tell you a lot of different things, and they all say they need something different and they need something very specific. And what I love about data is the fact that it is an unbiased, unfiltered way of, for example, understanding how your customers behave, which can then help you understand what they truly need. You also need to listen to them, of course, but the data can help you detect the deeper problem because you can analyze their actions and understand it through that, at least if you're working in a platform type of business.

I also think data takes a lot of the bias out of the conversation. I think to be honest, during my 18 years, I've made a lot of decisions based on gut feeling in the past where data was not as easily accessible. That was what leadership was all about. It's like you have a lot of experience. You use that to make the right decisions. But I think as data has come in, it's been such a gift because it has helped me remove some of my biases, helped me forget some of the things I've learned along the way because things change over time, and it's just given me a lot better customer insights, but also faster, in my opinion, better decisions and more innovation.

I know that might be a little bit fluffy, but I think a perfect example is instead of asking 10 salespeople which customers should we prioritize, instead you can look into all the data. You can really try and assess which of these customers has the best potential, has the best impact to your business, fits best to your, if we talk about service model, fits best into your network. You can just make a better and more informed decision that will also deliver the better outcomes.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think the point you made is interesting too about all good points. The other thing I'm thinking about in terms of, like you said, customers all, it's not that they're not unique or that they don't need different things, but they're all going to think they're more unique than they are and need something different than they do. And so I think a lot of times, we see companies struggling with how much to customize offerings or solutions. And I think there's a really interesting conversation to be had around this idea of... Because the conversation you have externally and the conversation you have internally can be very different, right?

Trine Nielsen: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Because of the data. You have the ability if you are leveraging data well to create systems internally that are pretty standard but make the outcome to the customer feel quite customized. Does that make sense?

Trine Nielsen: Yeah, I agree.

Sarah Nicastro: So I think that's really interesting as well. But I love the point about relying on data to remove some of your bias.

Trine Nielsen: And let's be honest, scalability is absolutely critical. We were targeting small and medium-sized companies. If we started customizing, every customer needs to feel that they get their needs met, but it has to be in a scalable version because otherwise, your cost to serve will simply be too high to make it profitable. So the scalability point to me is I agree so much, it's critical.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, all right. When you think about digital transformation, can you talk about the role of leadership and the need to create creative, challenging, and trusting environments?

Trine Nielsen: Yeah. I think leadership is going through a transformation these days. I think there's a lot of talk about diversity. But also as technology is becoming more and more something that we're dealing with, I think depending on how long you've been a leader, at least when I started having my first leadership position, we were at the macro level. Excel was the most used tool. And suddenly it's technology that is complex. Even if I tried, I would never be a technology expert. But the way of working when you deal with technology and digital transformations, it just requires, at least in my opinion, a different leadership mentality because you have to...

I think in the past, I felt like everyone expected me to have all the answers. Where today as a leader, you need to accept that there'll be people around you who are smarter, who are maybe more well-educated than you, in some cases, even some who are better paid than you because that is what's required to get the best talent. And I think facilitating the diverse community where you combine the people who are experts in technology space with people who are experts in the business space, because at the end of the day, digital transformation is all about taking something that we know and have done for many years and then doing it in a digital way. So trying to combine those two worlds, I think, requires a much more humble approach where you facilitate people rather than give all the answers.

I think my experience has been that actually if you don't have a strong vision and the strategy is not clear, it will be extremely difficult to be a successful leader because those two things is what will drive the team in the right direction. And you need to accept that the team has to come up with the answers. So you need to trust that they understand where you're going. And I think it is a humbling experience as a leader feeling that you are so dependent on your team, but I also think it's extremely healthy. And I think it just fosters so much more creativity when instead of having one brain to rule them all, you have maybe eight brains who collectively try and solve problems. So I think digital transformation is the perfect example of how diversity of thought can truly come into play. And it's probably where we see it coming to life the most at the moment compared to more traditional business models.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. On the diversity note, I think based on what we chatted about when we had lunch, in both of our worlds, logistics and service, there's a lot more room for diversity, okay?

Trine Nielsen: Mm-hmm, yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: When you think about that, what are your thoughts on how we bring that diversity of thought into these industries that are typically very homogenous?

Trine Nielsen: I have this feeling that there's still some legacy which we need to accept. We're not going to change the world tomorrow. Also, because as a female, and I believe you feel the same way, but I would never accept getting a job simply because I'm female. I want the job because I'm the best candidate. That is part of my pride and DNA. But historically, I think it's a very human thing. We hire or have hired people who look like ourselves. So I think there's something that we need to solve in terms of making sure that we actually... Because I have seen teams that are extremely diverse delivering so much better results and outcomes compared to teams that are not. There's something about the way that we go about hiring. There's something about the way we go about looking at capabilities. We need to take the personal traits and way of working a bit more out of the conversation.

And I don't think I have all the answers for how we do it, but I like there's some companies, if you have a group of people who are part of a hiring panel, that can help take some of the unconscious bias out of the process. There's also in some companies where they always have to have a female as part of the final two, three candidates. And as I said, I believe that you should always hire the best person for the role. But I think there needs to be a process where leaders are assisted to hire more complimentary skills, but having that support in place.

And then I think we need to give it a little bit of time. I'm seeing in the logistics industry, things are changing. They're changing slowly. But I'm also seeing, Maersk is a massive company. There's almost a hundred thousand people now. And I'm not there anymore so this is probably six months old knowledge. But at that time, the talent base at the levels, every five years or something like that, the talent base of females if we just talk gender continues to expand at the different levels. So I think the focus on nurturing, appreciating different ways of thinking and working, and helping leaders actually facilitate that in the best way, I think is good. And then we also need to evaluate our leaders on different parameters potentially, right?

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm, yeah. Absolutely agree on that. I think part of the legacy that exists is different layers of sometimes very unintentionally toxic leadership. I think that's just reality. You have a lot of times there's these glaring toxicity gets dealt with because it has to, from whether it's a legal standpoint or a PR standpoint, et cetera. But there's these different layers of bias, just very outdated thinking or beliefs that it's a lot harder to pinpoint where that is in businesses and how it's affecting diversity, but also teams. When you have, just that permeates, you know what I mean?

Trine Nielsen: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: I do definitely agree that we need to be really digging into this idea, as you stated, the role of leaders has changed from needing to know it all to needing to enable a lot more. And as part of that change, what's required is different, and we need to make sure that we're measuring based on today's means. The other thing that's interesting, because you mentioned that you rely a lot on data, and so it's an interesting catch-22 with this idea of I think to some degree companies saying, "Well, we need to have this type of candidate be one of the final few," or what have you. Those type of parameters, they get put in place. Sometimes it's I think people are like, "Well, if you don't measure it, it won't change."

So from that perspective, I appreciate the fact that people want to at least pay attention. The problem is it's like they're acknowledging it but they're not understanding it. And I think a lot of it comes down to what is the why behind any given organization focusing on diversity. If it's because you feel like you have to, the outcome is a lot different than feeling you know you will be better, do better, have greater success because you value that diversity of thought. So it's not about checking a box of we need X percent women, we need X percent this category, this category, this category. It's we need more diversity because it will help us achieve our goals and grow and be different.

Trine Nielsen: And I think to be fair, it's also... I have had the pleasure of leading an extremely diverse team, and I have seen the outcomes and the results of that, which were, in my opinion, exceptional. And I don't take credit for that. I give full credit to the team. I was just a facilitator. But I think if you've never experienced that, how can you value it? So I think this, I agree. It's a catch-22 because we need to somehow force the initial phase, and that can be done in different ways. But I also have this feeling that when if everyone just tries being part of a trusting diverse team, they will feel so quickly why it adds so much value. But in a big corporate where you've done things the same way for many years, you also don't know what you're losing out on. So it's not a burning platform.

And I think that's also what will hold a few people back, because we need to get it done. But my business is running fine, so not really the biggest priority.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. And you have, again, it goes back to these individual leaders who quite frankly, managing a diverse team, if they've one, not seen the value, but two, they're probably complacent in managing a lot of people that are different iterations of themselves, which is easier than learning how to evolve as a leader and embrace new ways of working, be more humble, et cetera. So that's where I think it's a really good point that I think going back to your point about you don't want to get a role just because you're a woman and they're trying to check a box. This is where I think the measurement can't just be on what are the final hires and/or even who's in the final interviews. It needs to be on how wide of a net can we cast to get more diverse applicants? Because then if you can bring them in, you have more selection to work through the process.

But to your point, it needs to be not only that. It needs to be on leadership because leadership ultimately will have an immense impact on not just your ability to bring in diversity of thought, but retain it. Because if you have leaders that don't value that in the ranks and these people are reporting to them, they're not going to want to stick around.

Trine Nielsen: And it can be extremely uncomfortable. I'll be super honest. Having someone in your team tell you off because the data says something and you have thought something else your entire life, that is uncomfortable. Having to coach someone who is a PhD and you are a shipping professional, it is extremely difficult and challenging. But I also think it is one of the most fun and most developing... Well, one of the most interesting development areas as a leader. But yeah, uncomfortable for sure.

Sarah Nicastro: I think you said this earlier, but we just recently had our Future of Field Service event in Sydney and one of the topics that came up in a conversation we were having around company culture, leadership, et cetera, was this idea of reverse mentoring. And that's the crux of it is, to evolve as a leader, you have to understand that you have just as much to learn from the people you're working with as they do from you. It's not this idea of a hierarchy so much as it is creating that team approach.

So when we think about diversity, I know this is getting into a subset here, but it's a subset you and I both fall into and bonded over a bit, which is being working moms and balancing motherhood and careers. So you mentioned Vigo is 20 months, and here you are. You're still here. You're still passionate about what you do. You're still driven to contribute and create and innovate. But I think what we talked about is the reality that oftentimes, the companies who want that type of drive and talent have environments that make those roles incredibly difficult for anyone who is raising children to realistically take. So I guess I'm interested in what do you find most challenging? What to you makes it worthwhile to undertake the balancing act? And what do we wish that employers could take from the conversation to consider in terms of having folks like us on the team?

Trine Nielsen: Having incredible working moms.

Sarah Nicastro: Who have sick kids often.

Trine Nielsen: All the time who get sick themselves and sometimes don't sleep at night, yeah. The challenging part, and I think we actually touched upon this when we met in Copenhagen, we as women.... Men have worked as fathers for many, many years and had great careers and so forth, so it is doable. I think as a woman, we are different, which is also part of the diversity. We maybe have a slightly... One of my core priorities is to be an incredible mom. I feel like I brought this little person to the world, and I feel like it's my primary job to make sure that I try my best to create a great human being who hopefully one day can make a great impact in the world, which actually at the end of the day is when we talk about having a purpose-driven or vision for something, that is a great purpose.

But I think the challenge is that we as women are met with a lot of legacy. This is how females should be. I've met that before having kids as well, to be honest. And I think that's also changing, but it is difficult to have people look at you like you're not good enough because you are working X number of hours or because you have a career job. You mentioned this, Sarah. You get asked, "Oh, how is it to be away from your kids when you are traveling?" But probably most men will never be answered or asked that question, and it makes you feel like you are wrong.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Trine Nielsen: I think to me, that is really challenging because none of us want to be bad parents. I don't think men want to be bad parents as well. So being met with that constantly is quite a pressure. So all of you out there, keep that in mind when you meet some of the working moms. I think making it worthwhile is everything. I actually feel that I'm a better person. I'm a better leader. I feel like I am much more productive. I get so much shit done, stuff done in half the time because I have to and because I want to prioritize being with my family. And having a kid now, the first part is not so fun. But now, it's actually really fun. And I think it gives nice perspective.

When it comes to what companies can do, I think honestly, there's so much potential. There's fundamentally, I think, flexibility for everyone is such a gift. And I think the COVID pandemic has also, if we want to look at the bright side, that is one of the things that came with it. So I'm at home today. I work at home much more than I did before, which saves me transport. And it gives me focus time. Before, I was sitting in an open office. But it also means that I can do a bit of laundry so when the kiddo comes home, I'm there. There's not 10 other things that I need to do. So the flexibility for me is absolutely critical.

I also think something really simple as changing maternity and paternity rules and payment during maternity and paternity is extremely important because in small companies, I think a lot of females or working moms are out of the running because there is what if they go on maternity leave? Europe is different. In Denmark, a woman can be out for up to 12 months. So having someone who could potentially be out for 12 months can be a very large expense. So I think there's a lot of structural things that we as society can do to make it more equal also for the sake of the men. Why shouldn't the men get paid on paternity leave?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Well, also you mentioned flexibility for all, and that's a really good point. First of all, it wouldn't be fair to only offer flexibility to women because they may be moms, but more importantly, you and I have talked about the fact that we both have very supportive male spouses. So them having flexibility helps because it creates a better balance in the home ecosystem to say, "The pressure isn't on me to have the flexibility to be able to run to school or to do this or whatever." It's shared, right?

Trine Nielsen: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So yeah, that's a good point. IFS did a video, a panel discussion with some folks for International Women's Day, and our chief customer officer, Mark Moffitt, was interviewed. And I loved one of the points he made which was around your point of, "I get comments that a lot of men in my role wouldn't get about being away from my kids. Who's taking care of your kids? Et cetera." And he said, before you ask someone a question or make a statement to someone, could you reverse that and could you say it to another gender? Or if you wouldn't say it to everyone, just don't say it. Because there's a lot of... And I don't think it's ill intent.

Trine Nielsen: No.

Sarah Nicastro: Its just people aren't aware of, to your point, then as a mom, you walk away and I'm like, "Oh my gosh," questioning all of my life's choices. But at the end of the day, I think you and I both love what we do. And so we are moms and we love our children, but part of what makes us who we are as human beings is being passionate about the work we do and doing that work. So it's a balance that to us is worthwhile. And I think there's a lot of benefit to employers to be creative about how to support not only women and working moms, but all their employees, to have a good balance and to offer more flexibility, more resources, more support to... Everyone can benefit from being able to better integrate their work and their lives.

I don't like the idea of balance. I think it's more of a blend. If you can be in an environment where you're at work and something happens with your son and you're not scared to say, "I'm really sorry, but I need to go be with him, and we'll have to pick this up tomorrow," and then they know you will. So they get the benefit of having your intelligence and your talent. You don't have that constant stress of, "What if? What if? What if?" It's just, "Okay, today is a great day to put 90% of my energy into work, and tomorrow it might have to be 5% because the little one's sick and I have to stay home with him," or what have you. So it's an interesting thing to sort out.

Okay, I realize we are over time. Do we have time for one last question?

Trine Nielsen: Yes.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay.

Trine Nielsen: Let's do it.

Sarah Nicastro: All right. The last thing I just want to do is go back to the role you had at Twill. When I found you through Frank, his post had said that you created this offering and experienced 400 times growth in three years. I'm not sure if that's accurate. Sounds like it is. So extreme success in taking this idea from vision, putting the strategy in place, executing on the innovation, and more importantly scaling it. If you look back on that journey, particularly if you look back on that journey thinking about listeners that might be fighting some legacy, what is the biggest lesson you learned or words of wisdom that you would share with folks from that experience?

Trine Nielsen: I think, listen, a corporate innovation can be challenging because the legacy can hold you back. But I also think the legacy can be what really fuels you to move with speed. Looking back at everything, by the way, it was a massive team effort and a lot of people involved to make it a success across the world. But I think one of the things, the first couple of years, we did not have much traction. We were not sharp enough on who our target customer was. We did not have enough focus because of that so we were developing left, right, and center, and we were not sharp enough on what is scalable, what is not, what is truly needed to win in one particular place. So strategically, we made a shift where we said, "Okay, now we're focusing on this segment of the market and we're going to do everything we can to win it."

And I think that was the game changer because also when we did that, it was much easier to say, "Okay, on these five points, we will use the legacy way of working because it will not add any significant value to the customer that we try and rebuild this from scratch." So that means speed and reduction of complexity. And then we said, "Okay, these five points is what will truly differentiate us and what we feel will make us win with this segment, so this is where we have to really challenge the existing legacy, think different, and build something completely different."

And I think because it was in a corporate context, trying to find that balance between how do we not disturb the corporate enamel too much by being too creative? So these things we will do your way, yes, yes, yes. And then trying to see how do we get the corporate to also change their way of working through being very insightful on customers using all the data that we have. So never speaking of, "Oh, but we need this because it's nice," but saying, "We need this because we can see from the customers they're acting like this so we have to change this process."

I think one of the big challenge that we had was how do you get priority when your business model is all about delivering something in the future. So delivering for potential where in a big corporate, everything is about delivering right now. And I think that was something that was a constant battle, and that slowed us down more than we would've liked to. You can say we grew significantly. It was a combination of a lot of hard work, a little bit of luck. So the COVID pandemic, customers not having space anywhere meant customers came to us so we could pick and choose which is actually really nice and very fortunate. But they also only came to us because we had been out trying to find them before so they actually knew who we were.

And I think hard work, a bit of luck, and a different way of thinking is what enabled us to do that in three years. It was crazy. We made so many mistakes. We had so much fun. And I think we all had that purpose of allowing the one container person to be as successful as the big corporations, and I think that was a really game changer.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I love that. And I think there's plenty of points in there about, to your point, driving progress with specifics, focusing in so that you're not trying to be all things to all people, at least in the beginning. You get that initial success that you can look to scale. And I think you mentioned that it was slower than you the first bit. You didn't make that much progress. So I think it's a lot of persistence and tenacity.

Kudos to you and the team to seeing it all the way through.

Trine Nielsen: Thank you.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. All right, Trine, I've taken so much of your time. I really appreciate you coming and sharing with us. Thank you for being here today.

Trine Nielsen: Thanks for having me.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes, you can find more by visiting us at While you're there, be sure to sign up for the biweekly Future of Field Service INSIDER so you can stay up to date on the content. Also, take a look at the remaining locations for the Future of Field Service Live Tour events, and register for the one closest to you. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at As always, thank you for listening.