An ocean of opportunities

Knowing which opportunities to go for can be essential for growing a company in a sustainable manner. Find out where OSM is directing their focus for growth with CCO Tommy Olofsen.

The ocean has been perceived as a bottomless source of abundant opportunities, providing means of subsistence for mankind since the dawn of time. The history of shipping stretches thousands of years back ‑ for as long as we know people have wanted to explore what is beyond the sea in front of them. Shipping today is responsible for the transport of more than 90 % of the world’s traded goods. The global fleet of around 50,000 vessels travel the world’s ocean providing services and goods but also employment for around 1,700,000 seafarers.

Like many other industries, the maritime industry is under pressure to become more sustainable. The war on greenhouse gases, single use plastics and the emergence of other global campaigns for a cleaner ocean and healthier environments are high on the agenda at any forum where shipping is discussed. In this context, OSM has recognized the importance of preparing the ground for more sustainable operations through several initiatives such as its commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“It’s obviously the right thing to do from an ethical point of view, but it’s equally important to acknowledge that the development of more sustainable business models is imperative if we want to stay in business,” says Chief Commercial Officer Tommy Olofsen.

OSM has grown substantially since the company was founded in Arendal in 1989. Today, more than 11,000 employees provide services to OSM’s global fleet of roughly 500 vessels. Olofsen stresses that with growth comes also greater responsibility:

“There is an ocean of opportunities out there. Knowing which ones to pursue is perhaps the most important strategic decision we can make. It’s important to me personally that we hold back from jumping at opportunities that don’t support the long-term objectives. As the company grows, our responsibility grows equivalently; this means that we need to be willing to walk away from a potentially good opportunity if the associated risk is perceived as too high or if the opportunity will draw away focus from our core.”

When Tommy Olofsen decided to take on the role as OSM’s Chief Commercial Officer in April 2018 he also became responsible for driving the organization’s strategic goal of sustainable growth. One of the first initiatives he introduced to support OSM’s growth strategy was to obtain in-depth understanding of the existing knowledge and experience in the global sales organization.

OSM’s core growth focus is to expand within the tanker, bulker, and offshore segments where the company already has a proven track record, reliable in-house competence and first-class experience:

“Tankers is the most important strategic segment for OSM. We know that it is the highest regulated and challenged segment for owners, and therefore if we are able to deliver high performance in this segment, we will see a high performance across all of OSM,” Olofsen notes and continues:

“Growth within the tanker and bulker segment is important as it implies a certain scalability, which allows us to explore the potential of efficiency and streamlining due to volume.  Offshore, on the other hand, is a more “sophisticated” segment, subjected to a comprehensive range of stringent regulatory requirements, helping us to stay alert and reminding us to constantly evolve towards top class operational excellence. Our combined efforts within these industry segments will permit us to stay relevant and secure sustainable profitability that will benefit not only our customers, but also our people on board and ashore.”

Having a lead commercial role in an industry that finally starts to pick up on its pace of innovation is not exactly a walk in the park. Olofsen is convinced that transparency combined with the willingness to change will be a key competitive advantage going forward, also for OSM:

“The sharing of ideas and best practice both internally in our organization, but also with partners and customers, is an essential part of our journey towards increased transparency and co-creation. I’m excited to witness the new possibilities coming from technology and innovation, paving the way for cross company collaborations and a more sustainable footprint for the entire industry.”