Mr Maersk is from India

Arjun Maharaj did not know Maersk when he joined the company. Today, he is the picture of the company, raring to take on the role of Sri Lanka country manager. During his ten years with the Group he has not only witnessed the company grow, but its name and customers too.

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“The kind of name we have made and what we stand for attracts a lot of people,” says Arjun Maharaj at Maersk Line. Today, Indian is the most common nationality among the Group’s employees.

Arjun Maharaj could easily have ended up doing something else these past ten years. However, on his way to Delhi to join the Tata Group, widely recognised as the most valued brand in India, he heard about Maersk, broke off his journey in Mumbai and went for an interview.

Fast forward past a shipping education, stints in Beijing and Hong Kong, the position of Maersk Line’s regional sales manager for South India and a USD 200 million business, and he is now moving to Sri Lanka to take on the role of country manager.

“I wanted to work with people across nationalities and I wanted to travel. That was the initial motivation. And once I was exposed to Maersk and got to know the system and what the company stands for, there was no turning back,” Maharaj recalls.

Attracting a lot of people

The average employee across the entire Group is 37-years old, male, Indian and employed with Maersk Line with five years of seniority. Arjun Maharaj is a close fit. Smiling at the ‘Mr Maersk’ label, he is unsurprised by the larger Indian footprint, having witnessed first-hand the development since joining a largely unknown company.

“Recently, during recruitment, I asked students why they wanted to join Maersk. I expected a response like “it’s the world’s largest shipping company”, but the first thing they mentioned were the values that the company stands for. The name we have made attracts a lot of people,” he says.

In addition to the values, he relishes the responsibility that he has been able to take on.

“The southern region is almost 30% of India cluster volumes, a sizable business by any standard, and I think it speaks volumes to the level of trust that the company is willing to pass down that it has young people running the show. Maersk stands out in that regard,” Maharaj says.

Helping customers grow

Understanding the customers’ business and identifying value for them is what makes him tick. That is how he has grown his career.

“We put a lot of effort into understanding our customers’ business. Then we see where we can reduce some of their supply chain pain points. By doing so, we get business and customer tie-in and they pay us a little more,” Maharaj says.

One of his long-time customers is Gee Gee Kay, an exporter of micronutrients for plants. For years, the company grew its business and its volumes with Maharaj and Maersk Line. After reducing its volumes in 2012, Gee Gee Kay is now working to open a new market in Poland, again shipping with Maharaj and Maersk Line and currently planning an April delivery of 150 containers (TEU).

“With the timely delivery of that batch I can rest assured that the volumes will increase significantly with the next order. This translates into growth for us,” says G. Madhan, director at Gee Gee Kay.