Donya-Florence Amer has taken up her new position as Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Hapag-Lloyd. It is the first time in the 175-year history of the shipping line that a woman has been appointed to the top deck of the enterprise. Prior to her joining Hapag-Lloyd, Deutsche Bahn intended but failed to hire the IT expert.
“With Donya-Florence Amer, we have been able to attract a highly qualified expert in the field of information technology and digital business modeling,” Michael Behrendt, Chairman of the
Supervisory Board of Hapag-Lloyd AG, stated, after she accepted the position. Ms. Amer’s scope of duties spans from driving ahead with electronic solutions to improving existing tools and
fine-tuning the company's digitalization strategy. A demanding roadmap.
New board function
Her appointment was preceded by the management's decision to establish a new executive IT board function. Donya-Florence Amer, as CIO, is thus now the 5th member of the Executive Board - alongside her male colleagues; CEO, Rolf Habben Jansen; CFO, Mark Frese; COO, Maximilian Rothkopf, and CPO, Joachim Schlotfeldt.
Ms. Amer started her career in 1999 at IBM, switching to Bosch in 2017, and becoming Co-Founder and Executive VP of Bosch Climate Solutions in 2020. At Hapag-Lloyd, she succeeds former IT boss, Martin Gnass, who retired last September after 19 years with the company. An enthusiastic scuba diver, the 49-year-old is very familiar with the element of water.
Profits based on high rates
In a media briefing last week, CEO, Rolf Habben Jansen touched on the preliminary 2021 annual results: 2021 shoveled a record EUR 9.4 billion (ebit) into Hapag-Lloyd's coffers, with sales totaling EUR 22.3 billion. He also delivered an outlook for the months ahead.
The executive admitted that his company’s figures could have been even better, but the disruption of supply chains caused by many adverse factors such as port closures in China, congestions on the U.S. west coast, staff shortages at warehouses as result of the pandemic, and capacity shortages vs. burgeoning demand, did not allow for higher results. In total, the shipping company transported 11.9 million boxes in the past year, only about 100,000 more than in 2020. The profit is explained by the high freight rates for maritime shipping, which have almost doubled from previously US$1115 to US$2003 per TEU on average.
“Every ship in our fleet is steaming,” Habben Jansen
“We had no vessels lying idle in any ports, but utilized our transport capacity at maximum limits,” the executive illustrated, reacting to media inquiries as to whether Hapag-Lloyd purposely withheld capacity to keep rates at high levels, similar to what some Asian peers have been doing. In Korea, a total of 23 container shipping lines, among them, Evergreen, COSCO, HMM, OOCL, and others, were charged by the authorities for collusion, causing capacity shortages, and fined US$81 million. Investigations on similar charges are also underway in the U.S. Fact is that, at a time when the shipping world is facing high capacity demand but is hampered by the pandemic and labor shortage at ports, schedule reliability has hit a new low in the industry’s long history.
Price situation will ease – later this year
Looking ahead, Mr. Habben Jansen stated: “I expect prices to come down as congestions ease. Most likely, this will happen in 6, maybe in 8 months”. However, he warned that “rates won’t reach pre Covid levels.” Much will depend on the dying out of the pandemic, enabling more staff to return to work in ports and warehouses.
Focusing on quality and sustainability
Yet not everything that glitters is gold at Hapag-Lloyd. In the video call with media representatives, the manager admitted that Hapag-Lloyd had missed the quality targets set for 2021, mainly because of negative external factors. At present, only around 25% of all shipments arrive on time at the customer's premises. To ensure that this does not continue, the issue is now a top priority on the 2022 agenda. So is sustainability that has become a new pillar in the shipping line’s strategy. By adding 625,000 steel boxes to the stock, complemented by the announced order of 10 vessels transporting 13,000 TEU, and 12 mega containerships capable of loading up to 23,500 TEU, the company is embarking on greater quality improvement and growth. Mr. Habben Jansen also announced plans to streamline the hub strategy, halving the number of key ports called from currently 25 to 12 or 14 locations.
Further, he denied plans to step into aviation, thus not following the advance of peers such as CMA CGM or AP Moeller Maersk. “We stick to sailing, aviation is a different animal,” he exclaimed.
The next highlight is scheduled for the 27MAY22, when the maritime company will celebrate its 175th birthday. However, the festivities will not just take place on the actual day but will extend over an entire week.
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