KLU Talks Business … with Dr. Steffen Wagner, KPMG Germany

Dr. Steffen Wagner, Global Head of Transport & Leisure at KPMG has been a loyal asset to the auditing giant for the past 23 years. He is responsible for their global activities in Transport (aviation, courier, express and parcel services/CEP, logistics, shipping, bus and rail) and Leisure. Especially at this moment in time, transportation is an exciting industry due to its innovative momentum, said Dr. Steffen Wagner in our interview with him.

Transport & Leisure sounds like an unusual combination. What led you to pursue this field professionally?

Dr. Steffen Wagner: My background is in finance and I eventually started working with clients in the transport industry. Since 1997, I have been involved in a large number of international corporate finance transactions (mergers and acquisitions, M&A), privatizations, and public partnership projects, mostly in the transport and logistics industry, but also for tourism companies. I have always been fascinated by the transport and logistics industry due to it being both dynamic and, at the same time, down-to-earth. It is an incredibly exciting time for this global industry, seeing how in recent years, startups and new technologies have had a massive influence on its ability to innovate. Being part of this journey has been and still is a great privilege.

Today, transport and logistics stand at a digital crossroads. Central to the discussion are the complex questions regarding access and ownership of transport capacity. We have already seen similar issues play out in the tourism industry. There, too, capacity has occupied a similarly central role in the digital disruption of the industry.

What is KPMG’s core competence specially regarding its role as a transportation consultant, and what role does the startup scene play in this?

Dr. Steffen Wagner: Within the transport industry, KPMG supports companies in overcoming challenges, particularly those arising from digital transformation. Startups and their business models, which are mostly based on the use of digital technologies, play a major role here. Platform models and cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) solutions are becoming increasingly popular among entrepreneurs and investors. However, the use of automated systems, robotics, and Internet of things sensors also requires digital interfaces and complex implementation projects.

KPMG can provide the process experience and appropriate monitoring tools needed here in order to effectively utilize the treasure trove of logistics data, optimize processes, and ensure trust in the digital space. Furthermore, our own Ventures team supports startups by matching them up with the right investors. Above all, we place great value on facilitating regular exchanges on innovation and technology within the industry, especially with regard to the use of new technologies which will improve the environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects of corporate sustainability.

Were you able to gain any new insights into the international logistics innovator scene at the KLU Logistics Innovator Day? If so, what were they?

Dr. Steffen Wagner: The global nature of the logistics industry is that innovation and progress know no national borders, which was impressively highlighted at the KLU Logistics Innovators’ Day. The transport industry fosters a global network of people, goods, and technologies. The members of the logistics startup scene who gathered at KLU play a key role as drivers of innovation within the industry. It is precisely the diversity of our approaches and geographical locations which enable us to learn from one another, and the Logistics Innovators Day provided the perfect opportunity for this.

In three words, what does KLU stand for in your opinion?

Dr. Steffen Wagner: Logistics, Research, Community

Thanks for your time!