Maersk Supply Services’ (MSS) chairwoman Henriette Hallberg Thygesen won the Offshore Support Journal 2020 Industry Leader Award in recognition for her work at MSS over the course of 2019
She dedicated the award to MSS and the company’s employees. As chairwoman, Ms Thygesen is steering MSS’ transition from an OSV owner to an integrated solutions provider, expanding the company’s portfolio beyond traditional oil and gas.
Ms Thygesen joined AP Moller-Maersk in 1994 as a trainee. Since 2016, she has been the chief executive of Svitzer, the tug operating arm of AP Moller-Maersk. She is also chairwoman of Damco Forwarding and a member of the board of directors at engineering consulting firm COWI.
In March 2019, the board of AP Moller-Maersk cancelled its plans to sell MSS, citing weak interest as a result of the subdued market outlook. Ms Thygesen was appointed head of MSS in May to help improve the company’s fortunes.
As chairwoman, she steered the transformation of MSS from an OSV owner to an integrated solutions provider, expanding the company’s portfolio beyond traditional oil and gas.
While oil and gas remains the core industry for MSS, Ms Thygesen told OSJ: “Do you want to be first mover, a fast follower or simply be run over by other players that were better at anticipating customer needs, transforming themselves accordingly? This I believe is a challenge and a question we all need to ask ourselves across the industry.”
MSS’ recent strategy has focused on three pillars: optimising core business; introducing integrated solutions; and diversifying into new sectors.
In light of the ailing OSV sector, part of Maersk’s strategy is to take on larger project scopes for its customers, what it calls “integrated solutions.” Ms Thygesen pointed to the three large moorings projects won by MSS in which the company delivered project management and engineering on top of its inhouse fleet of more than 40 vessels.
The downturn in the offshore market has forced MSS into diversifying. The company has a target to have one-third of its business generated by non-traditional oil and gas. Ms Thygesen said of the diversification that it is “about investing in our future – we are building a robust pipeline of innovation opportunities”.
Over the last three years, MSS has established a dedicated innovation team to focus on creating a stream of projects with the clear objective of maximising the use of its assets and marine capabilities. These diversification efforts are starting to pay off. MSS has penetrated the offshore wind sector with a project for installation and clear ambitions for floating wind; its partnership on deepsea metals; forming a decommissioning joint venture with Maersk Drilling; and supporting the NGO The Ocean Cleanup in removing plastic from the oceans.
Diversification has also required MSS to invest in assets. In 2019, the company took delivery of Maersk Maker, the last of six M-class Starfish series AHTS vessels to complete its 10-vessel newbuilding programme. The company made technical upgrades such as installing an energy advisory system on some of its vessels to support the crew in their energy efficiency efforts.
Ms Thygesen said these changes are partly the result of past experiences as head of Svitzer. Both companies, she said, are focused on the customer. “In my view, the biggest challenge for any player at sea is to strike the right balance between innovating and rethinking their businesses and operating models, while at the same time keeping costs down and providing safe and efficient solutions to their customers.”