You have now been working for ÈTA Shipping as a Strategy Manager for 3 months, how are you doing?
I enjoy it a lot, it has been a great learning experience and an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. I am learning a lot as the subject matter is very broad and diverse. I am attending meetings with all suppliers, manufacturers and external partners, among others. As I have no background in shipping a lot of things are still new to me. In the first months I looked a lot of things up and asked many questions, but now I feel quite at home in the shipping industry. It is becoming quite familiar now, as I have learned a lot in a short time. And you have to keep up, the sector is incredibly innovative; there are constantly new developments, so you keep learning!
Starting a new job during Corona, what's that like? How does ÈTA Shipping deal with that?
I thought it was crazy to have a job interview online. After my first phone interview I had a “proper” job interview via Microsoft Teams. It was strange, because you leave a different impression when you can’t see someone in person and shake their hand. I first met my colleagues three weeks after I started at the Johannes de Doper church in Leeuwarden, the future office location of ÈTA Shipping. We were social distancing of course. For now, we all work remotely from our home offices.
ÈTA Shipping uses a very efficient way of working, both at the office and within our own team. We make great use of smart information systems which allows for very efficient and optimised communication flows. We start with an online meeting each morning, which is rather informal. We discuss new developments in the industry, and we go through the agenda for the day. This works really well for me, each day I know exactly what tasks to accomplish and what I need in order to accomplish these tasks. It provides a lot of clarity.
In my opinion working remotely has many advantages and is highly efficient: It is much more flexible than working in an office and no more commuting is necessary.
Can you tell us something about the content of your work and what projects you are working on at the moment?
I am currently actively engaged in coordinating business processes, as well as financial processes. Furthermore, I am analysing and improving existing business strategies as well as designing new ones. For example, our strategy is to actively balance knowledge exploitation–this way, I believe it is possible to exploit existing opportunities while anticipating future scenarios. Through the implementation of such strategies, I believe I can help ÈTA Shipping become more advantage-seeking and opportunity-seeking. In the end, the goal of this strategy is to maximise our growth potential.
Typically, sustainability is not always financially interesting, especially in an industry like shipping where the average cargo vessel is over 20 years old. At ÈTA Shipping we make sure that our business is both economically and ecologically sustainable. We prove that these two factors can co-exist, which is essential for a business to succeed–today more than ever. In such a way we create a win-win situation for charterers, cargo owners and suppliers. Therefore, our strategy is to seek differentiation while maximising cost-efficiency. We aim to outperform competitors through superior value creation.
Other activities, besides strategy management, include negotiating price agreements with suppliers and yards, as well as the development of the digital twin. I am part of the team that is designing and setting up the “digital twin”, which is an innovative platform that integrates all systems of the ship – from purchasing, security and predictive maintenance to the operation of autonomous systems, among others. As we are devising the specifications for the digital twin, we are meeting with all suppliers and other stakeholders to find a way to optimally connect all subsystems.
In conclusion, my job description is quite broad. Although I am mainly involved in strategic decision-making, I am also active on an operational level.
You started in 2 committees of the KVNR on behalf of ÈTA Shipping, can you provide more information about this? What is your role? What is the objective?
Firstly, I am representing ÈTA Shipping as an active member of the Safety and Environment Committee (CVM) of the KVNR, which discusses innovation in shipping, as well as legal, technical, nautical and environmental concerns. In my opinion, the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is the most important aspect here.
Secondly, I am also representing ÈTA Shipping in the working group Navigation, Communication and Cargo (NCL) of the KVNR, which is a working group consisting of industry specialists that advise other KVNR committees on policies regarding NCL-related concerns. Innovation is also prioritised here.
We have meetings frequently, around once a month.
What are your goals for this year; personally, and within ÈTA Shipping?
I would like to help further increase efficiency in the shipping industry. I am determined to help making the industry more sustainable by designing novel strategies. In order to accomplish this, it is important to look at our business from a different perspective than what is normally done. I believe that this is mainly what leads to truly innovative ideas, such as the idea to commercialise a Ship-as-a-Service (SaaS) and a Ship-as-a-Platform (SaaP). Having recently finished the master’s program Strategic Innovation Management at the University of Groningen, I was able to come up with such strategies. I am very grateful for the opportunity to put my knowledge regarding business innovation into practice, and I am eager to further develop these strategies, so that shipping no longer has to be a polluting industry.
Lastly, my personal goal is to keep expanding my knowledge about shipbuilding and ship management. There is still a lot for me to learn about shipping, and that excites me!