Every morning Henriette Thygesen cycles the 6km from her home to work at Svitzer HQ in Copenhagen. On the way, she often stops to talk to the crew on-board Svitzer Hermod, Svitzer Bjorn or one of the other tugs frequently moored directly outside the head office in Nordhavn in Copenhagen.
Thygesen took the helm at Svitzer in September 2016 from the previous CEO, Robert Uggla, following a 23-year long career working across different businesses in A.P. Moller Maersk. Her most recent role being that of CEO at Damco Americas. Back at head office today, having spent years working on the front line herself, it is clear that strengthening the connection between onshore staff and those at sea is an issue close to Thygesen’s heart.
“Clearly I’m impacted by having spent most of my life working outside of corporate headquarters, and I do see myself as a voice for the front-line staff,” says Thygesen.
“The attitude I would like to install is that we in the leadership team all need to maintain that link, and the humbleness to recognise that there are a lot of things we don’t know – you always have to be open to learn and develop.”
“We have a lot of dedicated and capable people in Svitzer,” she adds. “We need to ensure that as a company we have a leadership style that empowers them to do their job as best as possible.”
Learning from the port managers
As Svitzer’s new strategy “Staying Ahead” is launched around the world, Thygesen recognises that it’s the teams at the forefront of the business who will be key to making it a success.
As a result, port managers around the world play an important role. “Port managers are a vital link in reconnecting with the frontline to leverage their operational expertise and benefit from what they know,” says Thygesen. “We want to empower these frontline leaders across Svitzer in making the new strategy relevant on the tugs and in engaging the crews in the best way.”