MOL Line CEO Reflects on Progress, Outlines Challenges for 2016
MOL’s corporate climate is changing for the better, even if the ocean shipping business still faces severe challenges.
That was the core message delivered by Junichiro Ikeda, CEO of MOL Line.
“We are beginning to see the results” of efforts to build cross-functional teams and developing a singularity of purpose which was part of a campaign Ikeda initiated when he became CEO six months ago.
On the other hand, “Our business climate remains severe,” Ikeda added. “Fleet oversupply is still an issue, and we see few prospects for recovery with the Chinese economy slowing down and markets stuck at historically low levels for both containerships and dry bulkers.”
The drop in crude oil prices does provides twin benefits of reducing bunker costs and spurring the tanker market. “However, low crude prices also raise concerns of a slowdown in resource development, which could negatively impact our new LNG carrier and offshore business projects,” said the CEO. “In addition, we cannot realistically expect favorable conditions will go on forever in the tanker market.”
Ikeda is placing an emphasis on developing business intelligence. “You need to collect information through your own personal networks and old-fashioned legwork, build a hypothesis, set benchmarks, talk with everyone involved, develop a strategy with a sense of urgency, then make quick decisions and get right to work carrying out your strategy,” he said. “But you have to remember that you cannot adapt to a changing business environment if you are locked into your division’s previous mission and mindset. You have to look at things afresh.”
Safety and competitiveness are Ikeda’s watchwords. An MOL crewmember lost his life when fire struck a company vessel last summer. “We must all think seriously about the effectiveness of the safety measures in place and whether these really guarantee reliability to our customers,” said Ikeda. “Safety is not just for seagoing employees. All of us, on land and at sea, must put safety and reliability first.”
Competitiveness is a combination of sales strength, cost competitiveness, and skill in proposing solutions to customers, Ikeda noted. “If a business does not have this kind of strength, we will need to question its reason for being,” he added. “Recognize your strengths, believe in yourself and believe in your colleagues. We must be willing to sweat together as we work to win the trust of our customers.”
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