Learning from a pandemic
Kasper Friis Nilaus, Svitzer CEO, shares his reflections on the challenges posed to the company in 2020, and his outlook for the year ahead.
"If I was asked to pick the biggest challenge, Svitzer faced in 2020, I would say ensuring that our people were safe and keeping our tugs manned and operating at all times. On the other hand, the biggest learning has been what we can achieve if we work together and put our minds to it.
COVID-19 has been a struggle for everyone. For colleagues at sea missing out on family time, birthdays and vacations because they were stuck on prolonged stays onboard – as well as for colleagues stranded in lockdown on shore, keeping the business running from the kitchen table without seeing friends or colleagues for months. The pandemic is still very much upon us and the struggle is still real, but luckily, we are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel with vaccine programs being initiated in many countries across the globe.
We cannot prevent a new global pandemic from happening, but we owe it to our people and their families, to our customers and to the industry to learn from the one that we are still working our way through. At Svitzer, it seems like we will be making it through the crisis in one piece. Looking back at the past 12 months, the reason for this can be summarised into three words: collaboration, network and perseverance.
Internally, by working together and pulling in the same direction, we’ve managed to keep playing our small yet critical role in the global maritime supply chain. I would like to extend a profound thank you to all my colleagues across Svitzer for consistently playing their part in keeping ports and terminals open to customer’s business with vital goods, food and medicine flowing in and out. I am highly impressed by the way people have leveraged and shared global experience, knowledge and support across a vast organisation – simply insisting on going that extra mile every day, not giving in, even when the sail was rough.
Also externally, we have seen collaboration like never before. Through the pandemic, we’ve worked closely with our sister brands in Maersk, with customers and local communities and with national authorities and non-governmental entities to find solutions to seemingly impossible roadblocks. Ultimately, it is collaboration and perseverance across the industry over time that has kept trade running and enabled us to perform the much-needed crew changes, to relieve our people and keep manning our tugs. It was never easy, but the community and collaboration has been remarkable, and none of us could have done it alone.
In many ways, I am confident that we will be coming out of the pandemic stronger. As an industry, we are looking at a near future where data, digitisation, innovation and a demand for greener solutions are likely to change and even disrupt our business. At Svitzer, the current global crisis has shown us that when we are agile and able to adapt, we can take on more than we ever thought possible. We are determined to turn our recent learnings, our global footprint and our size into clear value for our customers and the ports and communities we service – and to face and even drive the changes required, global pandemic or not.
I look forward to a new year with much more collaboration, network and perseverance – both at Svitzer and across the industry."
Kasper Friis Nilaus