From Office Supplies to Risk Management of Global Transport, Ann-Marie Martin Takes the European Helm on a New Voyage of Discovery
The ocean has always served as a powerful symbol of risk as chronicled by centuries-old stories of lost souls abandoned to its inky blackness. Covering two-thirds of the earth’s surface, its depth, mystery, unpredictability, and propensity for naturally occurring dangers including storms, predators of the deep or vast icebergs have intrigued the human psyche for thousands of years and have been captured in everything from sea shanties to cinematic blockbusters.
These dangers, along with the man-made challenges of war, pollution, climate change and crime on the high seas (piracy) are always viewed through the prism of a myriad of challenges to overcome.
It goes without saying that steadying the ship in stormy seas by keeping one supportive eye on the crew and the other on the risk horizon is an apt maritime metaphor for the captains of commercial shipping companies and the heads of risk of those organisations for whom the sea represents another day in the office where high seas equate to high risk.
When multiplying those challenges by two other forms of transport that traverse continents to fulfil supply chain obligations—air and road freight—you can begin to understand another world of risk crossing the desk to the inbox of Ann-Marie Martin, the first female European head of security at CEVA Logistics, part of the giant global container shipping company CMA CGM.
An acronym of two predecessor companies, Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement (CMA) and Compagnie Générale Maritime (CGM), which translate as “Maritime Freighting Company” and “General Maritime Company”, the global business operates 257 shipping lines and has a presence in 160 countries through 400 offices and 750 warehouses. With 155,000 employees and a wide fleet of 593 vessels, CMA CGM serves 420 of the world’s 521 commercial ports.
Ann-Marie, who six years ago took on the role of CEVA’s head of security for the UK and Nordics after 15 years as an analyst and head of LP at US-based Office Depot, has taken the helm through a promotion to a brand-new role to steer a new course for the future for this multi-billion Euro business.
Falling into Ann-Marie’s specific remit, CEVA Logistics in Europe is represented in thirty countries and has 36,000 employees working across seven key product areas—air, ocean, ground and rail, finished vehicle logistics (FVL), contract logistics, customs brokerage and project logistics.
Many of these functions are self-explanatory and generic to global supply chain operations, but others are more bespoke including FVL, which involves the transportation of completed vehicles from production factories to dealerships or other destinations. Others include project logistics, which could see high-value components such as unique oil or drilling equipment delivered into some of the most challenging industrial environments or the end-to-end execution of specialist show logistics dealing with every item in and out during a high-profile event such as working for the exacting standards of Formula 1 for Ferrari, or accounting for every engine or wing nut at the prestigious annual Farnborough Air Show.
These are big numbers, but a splash in the ocean compared to the larger global CEVA profile. An ever-expanding business through acquisition including the purchase of French logistics provider GEFCO in 2022, CEVA worldwide now has 110,000 employees, a gross revenue of $18.7 billion and ranks third in contract logistics globally and tenth in the world for freight management.
Its digital footprint or, more fittingly, ocean water displacement is also suitably impressive, boasting one billion order lines from its ecommerce customers, a success story that like its giant freight ships is full steam ahead and show no signs of slowing down.
The Scale of Cargo Crime
Successful businesses make attractive propositions for organised criminality, and according to figures from TAPA (Transported Asset Protection Association) EMEA’s 2022 Cargo Theft Report, cargo crime incidents continue to increase.
Although the 2023 report is yet to be published, intelligence for the eighteen months to June 30, 2022, showed the top 10 countries for cargo losses in the EMEA region revealed 11,332 cargo thefts recorded in just 546 days, with incidents reported in seventy-eight countries across TAPA’s region.
In total there were €126,567,613 worth of products stolen or targeted in thefts from supply chains, but this could have been the tip of the iceberg as only 12.4 per cent of crimes were reported to TIS (Transport Information Service), which collates product categories for recorded cargo loss.
The figure also revealed that €579,419 represented the average loss for major crimes with a value of €100,000 or more while €231,808 was the average daily loss during these eighteen months. The largest recorded single loss reported to TAPA EMEA was €17,869,520.
Building a Global Security Strategy and Team During Times of Crisis
Ann-Marie has spent the last six years helping to create the eco-system for a more effective risk management approach across Europe in line with the rapid expansion of the business through organic growth and strategic acquisitions.
“The European focus of my role has been to ensure that we develop a global security strategy that can be embedded across Europe. These are exciting and continually changing times for our thirty-four-strong team, which for the task involved, seems quite small,” said Ann-Marie who reports into CEVA’s head office in Marseille.
In building the team, Ann-Marie has visited each of the thirty countries to understand the security culture and the lie of the land on a continent which has been partly disfigured by war and natural disasters. Half of Ann-Marie’s team operate out of a “control tower” in Turkey, its largest territory, all of whom, as well as other CEVA employees, were engaged in the humanitarian effort to reach victims of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck Kahramanmaras province, near the major Turkish cities of Gaziantep and Adana, on the Turkish and Syrian border in February this year.
“The team did a fantastic job in very difficult circumstances. They were providing vital transport links where they could and making sure that everyone was OK and that buildings were safe to operate in as part of our business continuity plan. It was really eerie as I had been at the centre of the quake when I visited Adana the week before the earthquake,” she said.
“Looking at the news reports from the same places where I had been a few days before brought home to me the sheer seismic scale of what had happened which made me determined to do what we could to help. The team was so supportive in terms of logistics and intelligence on the ground. We were able to assess the risks and mitigate what could have been significant losses by quickly deploying and dealing with the situation that we were confronted with.”
“We also provided a lot of aid from the UK, and other European countries, shipping out seventeen pallets of baby food all donated by colleagues and customers from across our regions including Spain and Eastern Europe who had seen events unfold on the news,” she continued.
Communication and Collaboration is the Key to Success
This sort of business continuity scenario is par for the course for organisations such as CEVA who are well-versed in damage limitation across multiple trading territories where geological and political instability and volatility is part of the everyday landscape.
“Communication is key to mitigating risk and that is why it worked so well in Turkey,” said Ann-Marie.
But communication is also critical to her wider risk role.
“Whether it’s contract logistics, finished vehicle logistics or show logistics, security sits across all of it,” she said.
“Our security strategy is bespoke for every product area. We move some very large pieces of equipment which may seem difficult to steal, but it is our job to make sure we secure it at every part of what may be a long journey and that includes escorting it. That is why I put in the groundwork to investigate every aspect of the business—understanding your operations is key to this role and you never stop learning and that is what gives me the drive to do the job.”
“I also understand that there is always room for improvement and that is why networking and learning from other industry peers is so important to me—that could be both internally and externally,” she continued.
But this was not an overnight sensation. This was part of Ann-Marie’s longer game of understanding the “bread and butter” of the business.
Looking back, Ann-Marie said: “When I started in 2017, I stepped back to assess what I had taken on, and it was a steep learning curve. I had no team—it was just me looking after the UK and the Nordics. I needed to be able to justify the building of a team for the future and to do that I had to convince what was a pretty old-school security culture that I meant business.”
“I had come from a background where I had the buy-in of the LP team, but here I was starting over again. It was a challenge and at times frustrating, but I started to get the buy-in at CEVA.
“I learned quickly from my manager at the time who said to me: “you must remember you are not turning around a sports car, you are trying to change the course of a tanker which takes time.”
“In 2017, I went out with the drivers and made sure I covered every shift day and night—it was about giving all of the people and my team time and an opportunity to share their thoughts. I wanted their feedback so I could understand from them as well as gain their trust and buy-in to the plan that I could deliver back to the business,” she said.
“It is very important to do what you say you are going to do which is why we have seen some huge wins in the last six years—it has become part of the culture of the business.”
“Externally, going to trade events, entering awards, and sharing best practice with other security managers as part of ORIS Forums’ Logistics and Supply Chain Forum has been transformational.”
Last year CEVA Logistics scooped a Highly Commended award in the “The Retail Risk Sustainability” category at the UK’s Fraud Awards. This was achieved as a result of Ann-Marie’s UK team collaboration with a customer’s security and operations partners to seamlessly improve service, reduce London congestion, and increase sustainability during deliveries whilst maintaining the required level of security and safety of its drivers. This was achieved through a shift to night-time deliveries, a strategy that if not handled correctly could have serious security challenges for all parties.
Ann-Marie has also been instrumental in developing security audits across Europe with flexible procedures for all scenarios across the estate. Again, this has not been prescriptive, it is not a dictate from on high, but a way of recognising different practices and auditing against those approaches.
Teams across Europe are risk-rated via European performance dashboards and security has now become part of the wider discussion that is opening doors for Ann-Marie and her team as there is greater business buy-in as a result of her open-handed approach.
“Not one size fits all,” said Ann-Marie who has also moved forward with a bespoke CEVA Security Standard which works in tandem with TAPA accreditation and offers a high and standard rate risk rating.
“You could feel that the market was changing, and customers wanted that extra feeling of confidence and that you can do what you say you can do. We wanted to demonstrate to them that we lived and breathed a security culture in everything that we do.”
“There will always be incidents, but it comes back to the point about communication and how you deal with it that matters. We want to understand what happened quickly and deal with it and share that knowledge with all parties and that includes the rest of the business,” she said.
“This is why networking with peers at ORIS Forums is important as well. We need to understand what trends in incidents they are seeing, the criminal MOs, emerging hotspots and new scams rearing their heads. It was at the ORIS Forums meeting in January where we saw a presentation by another member that we are now actively looking at adopting—I was so grateful for that.”
“I also attend conferences to look at new innovations, from physical security to AI technology.”
CEVA has actively partnered with Thruvision across part of its physical estate to identify and deter levels of theft at the point of exit where staff members have concealed items on their person as they leave their shifts.
“It is a technology we had never used before, but it proved to be quick and efficient and has a preventative deterrent aspect to it which has proved popular with all our stakeholders. We want situations where we are no longer uncovering incidents of theft because the message that they will get caught has got through.” she said.
The technology is now being deployed in France, a development that commenced in May 2023 which will create the template for the roll-out across the rest of the European business. It is part of a broader strategy of bringing together operating policies and procedures that are recognised across CEVA’s European estate so that every country works in sync rather than working in silos.
Part of this is going back to basics and that is why she is in the process of moving to a product focus rather than a country-specific approach.
“The security managers in CEVA may have previously worked in silos but they are now working collectively across Europe, and they are happy to share best practice from which we can all learn. I’m still learning so much by spending time with all of them and understanding what good looks like in each territory,” she said.
Law Enforcement Network
Ann-Marie is also building a stronger law enforcement network. Apart from active membership of TAPA, the team is working with NaVCIS, the dedicated transport intelligence force in the UK to gain additional insights.
The business is changing, and security has evolved accordingly as more of the business stakeholders are on board. She is not resting on her laurels as she has just been given Iberia and Morocco to add to the portfolio.
In 2021 she brought the European security team together in Milan to explain the new structure and how security can make a difference.
“I got them engaged through interaction and team building involving Lego which everyone knows whatever the language they speak. They had to work together and elect who was going to lead each team and bring the project to life through a plan. It was a real eye-opener as both teams worked well and even agreed to start again at different points during the exercise.”
“The purpose was to deliver a Europe-wide security report to show what was going well but also to see how they interacted with each other. Our objective to launch the report and enhance the profile of the security team was a success. We repeated the exercise in the Netherlands last year where we worked on investigations as country clusters looking at LP and inventory accuracy and how we can engage better together with the wider business.
In 2023 the focus falls on CEVA’s UK location in East Midlands, Derby where the teams will get to see Thruvision in practice ahead of its roll-out in their territories.
In between European meetings, the teams communicate through a dedicated WhatsApp group to further break down international barriers to deal with the everyday challenges including the growth of petty opportunistic crime—thefts have increased by 200 per cent, although the value of loss is dramatically down compared to last year—which Ann-Marie describes as the “low hanging fruit”.
“We are looking at our culture again to see what we can do here in terms of internal communication because it’s always worth it.”
Joining CEVA from Office Depot was a journey of exploration for Ann-Marie whose personable approach to breaking down barriers comes from an inquisitiveness and drive to learn from others. Working with excellent mentors, the new European head of security for CEVA Logistics now pays forward the compliment by mentoring others while at the same time learning from them, a life skill she has fine-tuned all her adult life after being diagnosed with dyslexia, something she has not allowed to hold her back.
A keen horsewoman who trained polo horses in Argentina and rode show jumping and dressage champions back in the UK at different points of her career, it was a love of numbers at Office Depot as part of the analyst team that got her over the first hurdle into the world of security and loss. Her dyslexia made her work twice as hard to prove herself which against all the odds made her a stand-out candidate and pupil. Her “professional curiosity” attracted the best advice on how to develop in a male-dominated industry where she would attend functions as the only woman at the table. Despite this gender imbalance she claims never to have experienced the sexism often associated with the sector and only has praise for her colleagues who helped shape her experience and journey.
“I have learnt from so many different people along the way. One lesson is always have your passport in your pocket and a change of clothes in the car as this is no nine-to-five role—one phone call can change your whole day.”
It’s now full steam ahead for Ann-Marie as the role continues to morph and she adjusts the tiller to counter torrid terrains, distant horizons and troubled waters and while she’s at it, she’ll steady the course with the help of a willing crew.