“Life is full of coincidences,” says Peter Bakker, who ten years ago was still a senior executive at TNT, not yet the CEO. His first interview for that job took place on September 11, 2001, at exactly the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. “When we left the room, it seemed like whole world was on fire.”
A few weeks later, as the company’s new CEO, he flew to Sydney, Australia on a business trip. With nearly 24 hours of flying time, he had plenty of time to brainstorm about ways that the company could contribute to making the world a better place. He came up with an idea to help “distribute health and wealth” to poor people throughout the world.
After researching the idea and several organizations, TNT approached WFP to work together. It was a natural fit. WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, delivering millions of tons of food to feed about 90 million people in 70 countries around the world each year. TNT is a commercial transport and logistics company serving more than 200 countries and employing around 161,500 people.
With such a large and diverse company, Bakker was searching for a unifying mission for his staff. He says the partnership between WFP and TNT has energized his employees, increased loyalty and served to attract creative and dedicated people who want to work for a company that was involved in corporate social responsibility before the term “CSR” had become popular.
TNT has a staff competition to come up with creative ways to help WFP. One staff member suggested the company start a sponsored event called “Walk the World” which has mobilized more than 1.2 million people to participate, providing school meals to 120,000 children over the past 8 years, also with support of other partners Unilever and DSM. Another year, a staff member suggested TNT invite WFP to the World Economic Forum at Davos. Thus, WFP’s “Davos Tent” was born.