Maersk Tankers’ new chief operating officer, Eva Birgitte Bisgaard, is an ultra-marathon competitor bent on turning Maersk Tankers into a highly competitive service provider
Eva Birgitte Bisgaard was born in Paris to a Norwegian father and a Danish mother and spent time at an English boarding school before moving to Bergen in Norway, where her father worked in shipping.
At the University of Bergen she dabbled in French literature, reading Albert Camus and wondering what path to take in life: “I’m definitely more of a commercial person. I’m more of ‘how do we face this; how do we win that’,” she says.
Ms Birgitte Bisgaard’s academic career finished with a Master’s in international business from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, but her journey to Maersk Tankers was preceded by almost 20 years at the Copenhagen-headquartered telecommunications company, TDC, where she held a range of senior management positions, the last being chief commercial officer and senior vice president for YouSee.
But then opportunity knocked when Ms Birgitte Bisgaard spotted a message on LinkedIn from a head-hunter. It was about a job in shipping and she reflexively thought to herself: “I’m only interested if it’s Maersk.”
She says: “I simply wanted to make sure I was going to be with the best, who know what they’re doing and who I can learn from.”
The attraction for Ms Birgitte Bisgaard was the company’s shift to becoming a service provider; as chief commercial officer, securing value for Maersk Tankers’ partners will lie at the heart of her new role.
“The future direction will pivot on our ability to create customer experience and engagement to provide commercial management for our partners’ assets,” she says. Maersk Tankers has also presented Ms Birgitte Bisgaard with an irresistible opportunity to be part of the generation steering the industry on to a more sustainable path.
“The future direction will pivot on our ability to create customer experience and engagement”
“We need to be in the engineroom of that change,” she says. “We need to be clever and figure out how digital technology can enable us to do our job better than yesterday. And it is this new knowledge we need to bring to our partners and show them how our services drive extra value.”
And it’s not just customers or partners the new chief commercial officer is focused on; she is equally enthusiastic about working with her new colleagues at Maersk Tankers.
“I am open and energetic, and extremely passionate about what I do and the people I work with. I always want to be engaged – and I want to engage,” she says.
One aspect that makes shipping stand out is its traditional culture, also known as a lack of diversity. As a woman leader with a wealth of experience, Ms Birgitte Bisgaard believes in a broad and meaningful diversity that reflects the very globalisation the shipping industry is a big part of. She knows that the industry needs to be open to people from everywhere, no matter their background.
If her exercise regimen is anything to go by, driving results at Maersk Tankers will not be a problem. Whether it is marathons, ironman events or sweating through the Swiss Alps, her extreme running dovetails nicely with her professional zeal and stamina to drive through change at Maersk Tankers.