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Maersk Line nominated at the Ship Efficiency Awards 2014

Maersk Line is delighted to announce that it has been shortlisted for ‘Sustainable Ship Operator of the Year’ at the inaugural Ship Efficiency Awards.

The first ever Ship Efficiency Awards 2014, hosted by Lloyd’s Register and organised by Fathom, will recognise and celebrate the organisations and individuals within the maritime sector that excel in efficient operations, implement fresh thinking and offer proven efficiency benefits through technological innovation.

“Efficient and sustainable operations are key to remaining competitive in today’s market whilst building the foundations for future growth. Maersk Line is honoured to be nominated for this award, which recognises our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint and increase energy efficiency. It’s a clear recognition of the hard work our employees all over the world have carried out to create and implement innovative solutions ”, says Head of Sustainability in Maersk Line Signe Bruun Jensen.

The winner of the Sustainable Ship Operator of the Year award will be announced at the Ship Efficiency Awards ceremony on Thursday 2nd October in London.

The face of stability

All industry eyes are on Maersk Line CEO Soren Skou these days after the delivery of consistently stabile results for 2013 and 2014 so far. Also, Soren Skou is considered more than ‘just’ the Maersk Line CEO; he is also the ‘voice of the industry’ as Journal of Commerce put it in a recent interview.

By now, Soren Skou represents staying power. After two and a half years at the helm of Maersk Line, many analysts view him as the force that has provided a volatile industry with some much needed stability.

Maersk Line has boosted profits steadily since Skou took over. In the process, Maersk Line has widened the gap between it and the rest of the industry and forced everyone else to follow, or face the consequences. In the first half of 2014 alone, the world’s biggest shipping line boosted profits by more than 55 percent, to $1.1 billion It was one of only six of the 17 largest publicly traded companies to be profitable in the first half, with the 17 collectively posting a margin of negative-0.5 percent, according to research firm Alphaliner.

And Skou is by no means ready to give up that position. Even though revenue is more important than size, Skou recently in an interview with Danish daily Berlingske Tidende clearly stated that ‘Maersk Line is the most profitable shipping line in the container industry and we are not giving up the position as the world’s largest on my watch.’

Skou, of course, is keenly aware of the challenges the industry is facing. Already in 2012, Skou was brutally realistic about the outlook and he repeated it recently: ‘The trend is only one way, and that is down.”

’It’s a historical fact that the rates are going down. In that respect, our line of business is not different than other business such as the airline industry. We shouldn’t forget that the container industry has seen the rates grow consistently for 20 years. That’s over. That means we have to find ways to optimise the business and deliver service to our customers. We can’t build Maersk Line’s strategy based on a hope the rates will go up. There is no historical backing for that – and besides hope is not a strategy,’ Skou said in the interview with Berlingske Tidende.

Soren Skou knows what he talking about. Despite turning just 50 a few weeks ago, he has been with Maersk for 31 years and is known as the epitome of the deeply-rooted Maersk values of uprightness, humbleness and constant care.

The tradition of a water salute

At first glance, a Maersk Line vessel being followed by a procession of tug boats spraying water in the air from their fire extinguishers is a strange phenomenon. There is of course an explanation as to what’s going on!

It’s a longstanding maritime tradition that a vessel which makes its very first call – its maiden call – to a port is saluted by other boats as part of its overall ‘inauguration’. Or to put a bit differently: The vessel and its crew are welcomed ‘into the circle’ by other seamen.

At sea, this salute used to come from canons about military ships but nowadays, the canon salute has been replaced the spectacular water salute.

When Mærsk McKinney-Møller, the first giant in the Triple-E series of 20 vessels, went on her maiden voyage from Asia to Europe, the water salute tradition was kept alive in every single port throughout the journey with often more than a handful of smaller ships greeting the vessel during the port call.

The water salute is not exclusive for the maritime industry. At an airport, it will typically be an even number of vehicles which line up on the sides of the taxiway, and the plumes of water will form a series of arches.

Maersk Line excels in customer service training

CUSTOMERSERVICEMaersk Line’s program for improved customer service – CARE PROgram – has been rated as ‘best-in-class’ training.

“A customer called me and asked whether we had hired new people,” recalls Maersk Line’s Farheen Mahmud, who is a Customer Service Manager in Pakistan. They hadn’t, in fact, but so visible was the impact of the behavioural training which all Customer Service staff in Maersk Line has gone through during the last two years.

That training is now acknowledged as best-practice by the external benchmarking company Corporate Executive Board (CEB) on its overall training effectiveness. The CEB is the world’s leading member-based advisory company which specializes in Talent Management and Functional Best Practices. They work with 90% of the Fortune 500 companies.

Best in class

CEB has analysed over 500 different competency development programmes across various industries, and Maersk Line’s CARE PROgram is rated ‘Best in Class’. The analysis specifically highlighted how the programme successfully applies behaviours in daily work; using manager-led training; and how colleagues help each other in developing the desired competencies.

Launched two years ago as part of Customer CARE, the CARE PROgram focuses on the emotional skills of Customer Service agents. Through a range of exercises and coaching sessions, they develop their personal skills and apply them in their daily activities.

The key concepts of CARE PRO are: Proactive, Relationship, and Ownership, and all new skills relate to these concepts. CEB’s evaluation shows the CARE PROgram consistently outperforming the benchmark on several measures.

Manager-led training ensures success

As seen in Pakistan and elsewhere, the success of the programme asserts itself in the interaction with customers. Tom Hartwig, East China Cluster Customer Service Manager, explains: “CARE PRO is the foundation for all we do – from working with Customer CARE to the actions we take based on our daily meetings.”

So what is the secret behind the success? Manager-led training. All training sessions are carried out by the local Customer Service Managers, who themselves have been through two weeks of intense coaching and people development training.

Moreover, systematic follow-up coaching and co-listening sessions between team leader and agent ensure that the new skills are continuously refined and fully anchored in the organisation as the way to work.

“Having the managers lead the training, do the coaching and evaluation created great focus on the results, and I feel the managers really did a wonderful job with it,” says Global Head of Customer Service in Maersk Line, Tom Sproat.

Leaders focus on development

Coaching people into new behaviour requires a very different skillset from that of traditional management, says Tom. “The success of the CARE PRO training is partly due to the fact that instead of being super problem solvers, our leaders are focusing on coaching and colleague development.”

There are still many opportunities to be explored the CARE PRO way, and Customer Service will continue to bank on the learnings so far. ”The team is looking at how we leverage our new skills by applying the same mind-set in future learning programs,” Tom Sproat promises.

Building a future in shipping

When 20 international shipping students started their educational journey at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) at the end of August, Maersk Line was present in the shape of 6 donated Triple-E LEGO ships.

The ship models immediately came to good use. Straight after arriving, the students who are now on their way to a bachelor’s degree in International Shipping and Trade went on the traditional introductory trip. Here they were divided in to four groups with each group given the task of collecting as much of the iconic ship model as possible within only an hour.

With 1,518 pieces and quite an intricate building process to the model, the competition made for an efficient test of successful teamwork.

According to research assistant at CBS Madelon Grandjean Poulsen, the building of the Triple-E model ships was so exiting that the students opted to finish the job even after there was no longer a price to win.

“It was a great way to make our students bond and get to know each other,” says Madelon Grandjean Poulsen. “We would like to thank Maersk Line very much for sponsoring the ships – it was extremely appreciated.”

The bachelor’s program in International Shipping and Trade at Copenhagen Business School focuses exclusively on the shipping industry, providing the students with a profound understanding of how shipping lines operate in a constantly changing business environment.