Bomb disposal with a Bang

Michael Bang used to serve in the Danish army, defusing bombs and mines. Now those skills – and the value of Constant Care in particular – are helping in his new career, training maritime and offshore workers to perform their jobs safely.

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Michael Bang, Managing Director at Maersk Training in Svendborg, Denmark. 00:48

When defusing a bomb, you cannot afford to make a mistake.

The same applies for those working on ships and offshore. In a potentially hazardous environment, you have to ensure that your leadership, communication and knowledge are all spot on, every time. 

So for Michael Bang there has been a natural progression from his time in the Danish army to working at Maersk Training, where he is now Managing Director in Svendborg.

“I came home from Iraq in 2006 and found my second child was a stranger. It was time to do something else, as Afghanistan was knocking on the door next. So I thought what can an officer do that could be of help in the civilian world?” says Bang.

Train as you fight

Bang, who started out as a Sergeant and ended up as Captain, served in Iraq, Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the domestic bomb squad, talks precisely and in a manner that commands respect for his words – the kind of style that can inspire people to follow suit, be they soldiers or offshore engineers attending a training course.

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Get the full flavour of what it is really like to be in the centre of the world's most advanced offshore training facility through this video from Maersk Training in Svendborg, Denmark.

When asked to clarify a point, he apologises saying that if it was unclear, he had not done a good enough job explaining it in the first place.

“It’s very simple. You train as you fight. Basically, this means making things as life-like and realistic as possible,” says Bang – possibly the only A.P. Moller - Maersk MD with tattoos running the length of both his arms – of both his careers. 

“In the offshore environment, you can’t afford to make mistakes. The problem is that when you try new things, you inevitably make mistakes. So you simulate the environment and practice doing things the right way, at the right time, every time, so it becomes an automated response – then, if anything goes wrong, the response has become automatic and you keep half a step ahead of panic all the time.”

Going out with a bang

This echoes A.P. Moller - Maersk’s Core Values - in particular Constant Care - and Bang is not the only former military officer to have made such a career move. Both in the army and when training for potentially hazardous offshore work, you have to take care of today to actively prepare for tomorrow.

“In the army everyone is in the same system. Here, I work with people from different countries and cultures. As a result you have to be better at explaining why people should do something,” he says.

“There is a link between our Values and the bomb squad. You follow the rules, and think before you act. If you don’t practice Constant Care, the bombs will hurt you really badly.” 
And, saving the question everyone has been wondering about until the end: How did English-speaking military allies respond to working with a munitions expert called Bang? 

“It led to a few discussions,” he laughs. “The Americans just assumed  it was a nickname.”