Mike Hynekamp, the new Chief Operating Officer for Ocean, knows a thing or two about running a successful operation. Before joining WWL in 2007, he held various leadership positions at Mercedes Benz in the US and Daimler in the UK. His biggest challenge in his new role is getting his teams to constantly re-invent themselves in order to be prepared for the new services and innovations that a fast-changing market brings. 

What’s the biggest challenge to your and your customers’ business today?

The speed at which businesses are changing has grown exponentially and we’re seeing greater levels of disruption, whether that’s in our industry or the car industry or the equipment industry. New entries are coming in and disrupting the market, both from a technological and a business-model standpoint. For any industry, it’s important to think about how to disrupt everything you do in order to stay competitive and avoid ending up like former giants such as Nokia and Kodak that lost their stronghold in their markets a long time ago.

What’s WWL doing to prepare for this new disruptive market?

We’re having more conversations about the volatility and complexity of our markets at the leadership level, and I think this has given us the focus we need to be on top of the issue of disruption at all times.

Can you give a concrete example of what you’re doing?

One thing we’re doing now more than ever is turning towards big data in order to optimise the sailing of every vessel as well as optimise the entire network of how we sail our fleet. For example, we are looking from a data driven perspective at everything operationally relating to  a vessel’s configuration, performance, speed and consumption to strategically where we need to position vessels in support of our customers’ needs now and in the future.

What other factors are needed to be in place in order to succeed today?

At the end of the day, what is going to be the really big differentiator is the people who make up your business. You can get caught up in complicated ways of recruiting talent, and that’s critical, but what’s more important is that you hire in line with your cultural values. There’s a famous expression in the US that says “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” That means you can have the greatest strategy in place, but if your culture is awful and you don’t have the right people you’re already doomed. You’re never going to make it.