In September, 2021 the HUUB became part of Maersk. Meet two talents who have experienced the cultural shift of joining a global company.

HUUB colleagues Jorge Ferreira, Platform Product Owner - Supply Chain and Vanja Jovanovic, Head of Product, DI&A, share their experience at Maersk so far, and reflect on what a young tech startup and a global industry giant can learn from each other to capitalize on the best of both worlds.

When people think about a startup culture, they immediately associate it with happy hours, ping pong tables, and a PlayStation, but these are the “easy” perks.

Vanja Jovanovic,
Head of Product, DI&A

How would you describe HUUB’s culture?

Vanja: “When people think about a startup culture, they immediately associate it with happy hours, ping pong tables, and a PlayStation, but these are the “easy” perks. There is a group of intangible assets that are the most important ones and serve as a guideline to how we do business and express goals aligned with the company’s core values and mission. This is what keeps retention high and makes someone recommend this working place. We are agile, we have a “get things done” approach with excellence, we are mission driven and focused on disruption. Everyone must feel that they have an impact in decision making. We are always studying and learning from each other, also by getting out of the comfort zone.”

Jorge: “We have a strong culture of knowledge sharing, being curious, and focus on our people by making sure that everyone is recognised. Most of all, we really appreciate working with each other. This culture was built around a team that needs a mission as its fuel. Our mission is quite aspirational, “democratise the supply chain,” the will of having a global impact in the world is something meaningful for us. So, I see our strong culture closely aligning with our new culture at Maersk.”

Usually, it is a big cultural shift joining a much larger global company. How are you experiencing this?

Jorge: “So far so good! Of course, there are differences between both companies, and we are still adapting to it. We are finding Maersk a much more complex structure when compared with our small company. Here, there are a lot of departments, a lot of different products and platforms, different regions, and so on. In our old reality, we were used to knowing everyone and talking with everyone in the corridors. Now that is not feasible at all.”

“There are also some surprising similarities. As a startup, HUUB is a constantly changing company. Similarly, in Maersk, it is possible to feel a transformation momentum in several areas. I’m really excited about it, we are feeling a big openness from everyone in Maersk to hear our feedback, to ask our opinion, and to onboarding us to help enabling this transformation.”

Since day one, HUUB has had two main purposes: disruption and scale. How do you see these purposes translating into a Maersk context?

Vanja: “When it comes to scale, I think it’s obvious. Maersk is the scale enabler for HUUB. From the beginning, our desire was to create a scalable structure to grow globally, from our platform to our internal processes. However, we were still in an early stage, so a lot of those developments were lacking that “stress test” of massive volumes and data. With Maersk, we will be able to test and improve our existent tech and data stack, while at the same time, we will be faced with the industry challenges of some of its biggest players – it is the best enabler you can have to conduct a roadmap and deliver the B2C supply chain of the future that we want to build together.”

What do you think Maersk and HUUB colleagues can learn from each other? And what have you learned already?

Jorge: “There are a lot of synergies between HUUB and Maersk. I believe we can bring our practices and ways of working in modern software development and product management, and we are also bringing technical knowledge. These capabilities help us to be agile and build a robust platform with nicely looking user interfaces and a good user experience.”

“We have already started our learning journey with our Maersk colleagues. The domain of the business operations comes with experience, and we feel much more confident working in this new structure full of experienced people in different areas. Being in Maersk also means that we are now sharing capabilities that back then sat with external partners, such as warehousing operations. Sharing these capabilities will bring us a lot of learnings because now we are on the same team, making it easier to connect and rally behind the same common mission.”

“So far, the biggest learning is about global thinking. For example, the fact that different regions have particularities and that we can work our product into many regions in parallel to build something standardised and global. This is a mindset we are getting used to with the help of our new colleagues and leaders at Maersk. It is safe to say that we arecapitalising on the best of both worlds: Maersk being the scale enabler and HUUB being the agile platform enabler, ultimately ending up with a standardised, digital, and global product.”

The scale, the customers’ trust in the company, the global thinking and the knowledge within multiple areas of the supply chain make us able to reach new horizons together.

Jorge Ferreira,
Platform Product Owner - Supply Chain

The match of agile techniques, product management and raw capabilities will accelerate our ability to offer integrated logistics to customers. Are there any exciting growth ambitions that you will now be able to achieve with Maersk that HUUB maybe wasn't able to achieve before?

Vanja: “From my perspective, I would say two main milestones. The first one is number of resources, growing our teams and being able to deliver on our vision. And the second, in Maersk, there is a new level of information. The number of insights that we’ll be able to provide internally and to our customers will be on a much larger scale, not only in a descriptive way but focusing more on predictive and prescriptive analytics. When we talk about a digital transformation, data has a central role in it, and that is super exciting!”

Jorge: “We had a lot of ambitions as a startup. By joining Maersk, we will now have the capacity to achieve those ambitions. The scale, the customers’ trust in the company, the global thinking and the knowledge within multiple areas of the supply chain make us able to reach new horizons together.”

What do you like about Maersk thus far?

Jorge: “The openness of people, the diversity, having an international environment, and the transformation stage which now brings a lot of opportunity. And, of course, the fact that we have a star as our logo.”

What has surprised you?

Vanja: “I didn’t have preconceived ideas of what Maersk would be. I am open-minded and trying to figure it out with time and with every interaction I have. If I had to choose, first I must say humbleness. During our visit to Copenhagen, in every meeting we had, people were willing to share their experiences and knowledge, but also very eager to hear from us and understand how we do what we do. In the end, this is what matters, this knowledge sharing opens minds for change where it is necessary. Secondly, transformation. Everyone is talking about it and it’s interesting to be a part of it now – it makes me feel like I am a part of something big.”

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