Ep. 3 – Frits Bisschop: The power of soft skills in building hard assets

My guest today is Frits Bisschop, Managing Director at Districon. Districon is a management consulting firm that specializes in supply chain optimization, logistics facility design and transportation networks. Based in Netherlands, Districon counts many airports, logistics providers and airlines globally as its clients.

Frits and I start our conversation with his early career, Districon’s most notable projects, impact of e-Commerce on airport operations, and decision-framework for automating operations. We spend the second half of our discussion on soft aspects of the business, such as tactics for managing stakeholders in complex projects, power of listening and hiring philosophy – aspects that are crucial for success in any environment. Please enjoy my conversation with Frits.

Episode Notes

0:00 – Frits discusses his early career at Schipol Airport, transition to Districon, and key lessons in that time period

4:52 – Districon in its early days and how far along it has come

10:42 – Discussing how the needs of clients changed over time and examples of interesting projects

15:54 – Sensible way to approach forecasting for long-term projects

19:22 – Differentiating forecasting approaches for short- and long-term projects

20:43 – Impact of e-commerce on airport operations and what it means for their design

26:15 – How automation is impacting airport design and factors that drive decision to automate

29:46 – Advice on how to effectively manage project stakeholders

34:51 –Finding balance between listening and building authority

38:17 – On making hiring decisions and what Frits looks for in people at partner vs. consultant-level

41:02 – Most important personal traits that team members must possess to succeed at Districon

43:41 – Tips for balancing personal life with the need to travel for business

46:31 – Closing questions