Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics

#05: Tim Wickmann former CEO of MCC Maersk Part 2

September 19, 2017 Radu Palamariu Season 1 Episode 5
Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics
#05: Tim Wickmann former CEO of MCC Maersk Part 2
Show Notes Transcript

Tim Wickmann is the former CEO of MCC Transport Maersk. Tim Wickmann has 27 years career with A.P. Moller-Maersk Group. He served as vice-president in various portfolios for 10 years. In the last 9 years, he was the CEO of MCC, the intra-Asia shipping specialist. During his term, the company became one of the most successful organizations in the history, from humble beginnings, maybe to the 17th largest line of company in the world in terms of capacity, among top three feeders globally, operated 90 ships, and had over 600 staff in local agencies in 14 countries across Asia.

Discover more details here.

Some of the highlights of the episode:

  • How to build the number one shipping company in your industry from scratch
  • On giving full independence to country managers – ‘Do anything you want as long as it is legal!’
  • On being happy at work – “For 27 years, I have looked forward to going to work every single day. You need to be happy at work. Otherwise, it doesn’t work.”
  • On superstitions and playing professional football. And how to handle 9 customer meetings in one day. 
  • How to react when your eyes stop working because of overwork and how to handle weeks of 13 hour work days.
  • Why you should say No! to seemingly great opportunities.

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Speaker 1:

So moving onto the, to the second segment, which is the[inaudible] the people

Speaker 2:

side of things. So typically shipping, logistics, supply to nugget if shipping this option is typically not seen as sexy. So what's your, what's your thoughts? I mean, how did you attract the top talent in mercy and MCC? What did you do to get[inaudible] on board? I always thought it was sexy from the first moment that I went to a, to mercy in 1990 and had, uh, the first presentation of what shipping was. I thought, wow, what a fantastic industry and what difference do we make in the world to be part of shipping? Um, the division of, of most clients has later been made into actually, uh, recreate opportunities in global commerce. And actually MCC has adopted that. They shouldn't overambitious statement as well because that is what shipping does with shipping. I mean, you know, people in, in China couldn't eat the Ecuadorian bananas. Right. It is really, we are facilitating that, that more goods become available to everyone around the world. When I was 19, I remember we had a customer who, who suddenly found out that in China they like chicken posts. So, so this guy was a huge chicken producer, but he's always just thrown out. These[inaudible] always just thrown them out. So waste, you know, not just waste, but suddenly realized that he, because of the refrigerated container and the temperature, it could be kept all the way to, to China. And he couldn't sell it out. Not for much, but definitely better than that. And I also, that was just an interesting thing that something that was a waste before because of, of shipping actually. Facilities train and facilities moving of course. So, Hey, I always thought it was a, it was sexy, but I mean, look, look at Singapore as a place. Um, it's, it's, um, I, I don't think shipping is amongst the highest paid paid jobs, so, so, so, so how do you, how do you attract, uh, attract a graduate for example? I mean, of course you own, people have to be heavy. And this is something that really I think most people in MTC is aware is very, very close to my heart. I want all my staff to actually be happy when they come to office. I have had, I have been very lucky. I am not exaggerating when I say that for twenty seven years. I have looked forward to going to work every single day and it's not because I hate my family or I want doc smells or anything. Heck that. No, I seriously enjoyed coming to work. I've had 14 different, I've had 24 different managers in five different countries and Hey, I have always enjoyed going to work and I just wish I only wasted it. Wishful thinking maybe that all my staff that we think like that and if they don't, then why not? What if people just come to office to draw their salary and just started looking at the clock when it's four and you know, when can I go home? Then you know that the culture in the spirit of the company will disappear. I am not asking people to work until 10 o'clock every day. That that's, that's not the point here. But I want them to come to the office and be happy, social, how do I ensure this? So, you know, I do some w eird weird things. U m, so when I'm out on l ike customer b asis or when I'm out in the o rganizations, I m ay s ubtly ask a customer service representative was sales rep, you know, so what, what has made you happy today or this week? And i f they can't think of anything a nd a sk them to[ inaudible] so let's just, you know, if you go home one day from work and y ou're really good mood and y ou're happy, that didn't, what has happened that day? Well, what actually happened for you to be in good mood that they are feeling you had a successful day and if you can identify that didn't do what that, yeah, I know it's so simple, but you know, mostly we don't think about what you did. We come to work and then we go home and then you go to the gym or whatever we do. I don't know. But we spent so many hours of our life in the office and probably it's also in our brains. More than than that would be a pity if we actually didn't enjoy it. And if you don't enjoy your work and enjoy something else, enjoy our colleagues or enjoy, you know, team events or in your, you got or enjoy the learning or enjoy something because if not, I just don't believe in a successful company. I think one of the reasons we've been successful, and again, we only run the 17th largest shipping with a little more than 600 people. We have some help to immerse people and so on. So I guess in total on the our headquarters, about 1200 people, but I don't think we could run a company successful and be as successful as we've been in eight years if the people were not energized and motivated and outright. I really don't. I don't think so. So we tried to create that environment and then we also, and then I just hope that this is to change is exciting and yeah, I mean it's, it's, um, it's impossible that people would not notice it. It's impossible to, people will notice. And in terms of, you know, how do we attract and retain, I mean we are lucky being part of a, a big group. So they are opportunities to move from MCC to 12 logistic company, all tumors and then you can come back later when you earn one, prove to, you'll see the, we try to do it within MCC also. But that's, that's difficult when we run with so few layers. I mean if there's any downside of running with a few layers, it's a cost that that promotions from one layer to another is, is slightly more difficult because it's big jobs can be done but just more difficult. And there we are lucky to, to provide opportunities within the group, within the group. Um, so yeah, I mean why not make use of that and what would you say are the hardest skills to finally shipping right now? And that's definitely about digitization. I mean, we S we, we don't know enough about any day[inaudible] thing is, I mean, I know this sounds a little weird, but we kind of don't know what it is. We don't know. And if we could have people in who brought something new and new thinking to, to, to our company, it would be great. And then it doesn't work if it's another person from another shipping line with the same shipping environment's also excellent. I tell you what the policy is in EMCC. I always say if we hire three people, then what I really want is I would like one from a group company, meaning internally that understands our system and the way we work. It can be, can be Safmarine, can be Tonko. Um, then I would like one from the industry can also be in supply chain for more customers. It can be a competitor coming out for some, sometime who is in the industry or a different perspective than the[inaudible] umbrella perspective. And then I'm going to graduate fresh graduate. Somebody outside who has no clue about, eh, could be a young one. Um, that is, you know, understand you say the younger generation, because we have all went into the foundation, right? So if we hire like that, I am sure to get three different types of input, perspectives and perspectives. We are still at young company eight, nine years and I have no illusion that we are perfect. We have, we have grown, we are probably the most profitable and the biggest carrier now. But how do you stay that and how would you continue, continue to develop and the trends. I think that's always one of the biggest risks, especially when you're on the top right. It's too easy to just become complete and glistened. So I am, I really, really want to have a diverse influx of people into MCC. And what I then do is sir, so anyone in headphones, they come to my office. I hate seeing somebody in the office that, I don't know, it's just, that's not how we do with MCC. My door is open for anyone at any level and therefore they need to know me also. And they need to say, you have set a rule to me. Otherwise, they will never ever dare to come close to where my office is. Right? So the rule is that everyone has to come in and be introduced to me. And I basically say the same to everyone, which is one that this person has been hired to make us as MTC better, not just to do a job. So I expect this person to question or ask for anything that this person doesn't understand. And if any ideas that this person, Hey, why are they doing like this? Couldn't they do like that? Don't just accept no idea. But that's because it's a new company. I better learn. No, no, no, no, no. I want that person to actually speak up and say, Hey, has anyone ever thought about this? And then of course, except to say, Hey, we haven't because of this and this. Okay, fine, but don't hold back no matter what your background is, don't go back. And then number two is that obviously because there's a few layers we have then a lot of authority with every single person. You can't hire in MCC. And if anyone's not delivering in their position, it has two effects. One is affecting the company, into your colleagues sitting next to has to work total to call for you and that that simply doesn't work. When you work with few people in a big operation, you have a lot of authority to these. Then people also need to take that responsibility and do well and delivering. And if they can't do that and if they get worried about the responsibility and the fact that you can hide here, then they in the wrong company, then I actually rather want them to not even stop at you. Most people at Z really cherish the opportunity for, for actually making decisions and seeing that, Hey, I've been in this community for two weeks and I've already made a great decision and it changed something fantastic. We assume as I think we hardwired for that, then we will. We want that. I mean most people want it. Yeah, but, but, but not, not all. Not luck. And that's also a skill you have to identify. Right. But was also, there are people who do not want that. And then you got to make sure that they either get their positions where that is not so required or maybe you help to, to find the meals. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And um, there's a, there's a good question from, from Jimmy Lim, uh, also in terms of culture. And then I think that just a little bit, if he's asking as a leader, when and how did you decide on company culture updates? When did the company culture needed an update or a tweak and how did you do it? What did you do?

Speaker 2:

Well, I think I spoke a lot about already the kind of culture that I try to, to, to create in the beginning. So you can say, um, I strongly believe that that a culture is not something that, that I can decide from the top, like a company culture. It's something that the people, the people create. So I have given these few guidelines that I've been talking about on, on how I want, you know, people to, to think how I want them to have responsibilities, how I want a few layers on, quick decision making. Um, and how I want people to be happy and if I don't, if I visit a country and I don't feel the bus, you know, the energy that I'm concerned immediately cause then I don't think we will win in that market. You know, that$25 shipping lines in that market or 30 or 40. And if they have the bus, customers can feel it immediately. We need to have that, that bus and then, but again, I don't want to be the one coming and saying, Hey, you know, the culture here is, is, is, is wrong. I have a close discussion with the country manager and then we maybe together established, you know, 10 different things that we can do to change the environment, identify ways. The problem can also sometimes be some people you know, that that don't fit in or create negative vibrations and so on. And that hurts the culture. And then you got to get, you've got to get rid of them. I'm sorry to say. They might be very good at what they're doing, but it's just too bad if they, if they influenced negatively out really. Um, nobody is about, you can say the spirit of the company. We also have something here, which I think is very important for our culture, which is related to our KPIs and the way we measure our people. We always had something that we call I the team, the company when we, when we award bonuses. So, so it's, it's somewhat confidential and you can't go into detail about, but every person's bones has an element of the total company results, an element of their team result, meaning the whole country, not a customer service or sales, but the whole country and then their personal contribution. But the personal contribution is a multiplication factor only off the other two. So if the company fails and the team fails, even if you're the best in the team, I mean, they said there's a cap on your bonus, on your bonus, and it's a low care. And this is to prevent, again, anyone puts themselves above the comedy. It really doesn't matter how good you are, if your team is not doing well and if your team is doing brilliantly, but you are not doing anything to help the other teams and the other country so that the confident as well, then that's also the point in considering pay on big bonuses. And I think that has actually been at their fundamental element of our, of the culture. We have, you know, I have people calling me the fifth or the sixth into each month or what was the result of the previous months for the whole company. I mean, who does that? I mean people from the countries asking, so how did we do in August? Like, because people care, they actually care how we do use a company. They don't care only about how they do.

Speaker 3:

Oh, that's a great way. It's a great way to encourage a sharing and encourage teamwork and encourage, uh, and it's, it's, uh, the team. A team is always great than an individual no matter how brilliant that individually, so great. Good. One good example. Um, and how would you win against your competitors to attract the top talent in the market? What would be some of the things that you've done in the past of what some Sharon's around that?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I don't think, uh, I don't know if I have more to add what I said. I mean, I don't think we pay more. Yeah. But, uh, I want to make sure that the good people are paid well. I mean really well. Uh, and the culture and the, I mean, internal setting the culture and hopefully it's a pleasant place to work and then you can make a difference. You can really make a difference. And then I personally care. I mean, now we are so big that I, I don't know, maybe four or five years ago when we were 400 people, I mean, I knew the name of every single person in MCC, every single person in each country. I can't do that anymore. Fortunately that's was too much micromanagement. But again, this was, this was in a star is a built up and we needed to have this engagement and this motion and then it really matters that every person felt that they were valued in MTC and they're part of something, right? I mean it's a yes and that inclusion[inaudible] sign, right? I mean and, and Hey, we've also been helped by, by our salts, I mean out of the eight years here we've had one bad year in seven good years. So I mean it shipping is pretty good. Maybe sometimes now I sound like an angel and say that it doesn't matter about payment and so on. But of course, I mean we have, we have been lucky to be able to give good bonuses and because of this multiplication facts that the best people have gotten really good bonuses really they have in, in the good, which we've had quite a lot of. So it has also been fairly, I think, okay to[inaudible] to say lucrative because again, the base salary is not necessarily in the high end, not with low end, but it's not in the high end, but, but obviously when you have the bonuses and you're still getting four months, five months salary, and invest in the year, I mean that, that, that helps mommy, I'm not sure who in shipping has paid for five months bonuses in the last seven. And yeah, we have, we have done that to our best people a couple of times.

Speaker 4:

This is the end of part two. Stay tuned for part three where we dig deeper in personal habits and success stories.