Igor Tonkovidov took over as president and chief executive officer of Sovcomflot in September 2019. He replaced Sergey Frank, whose long service in that role was rewarded with promotion to chairman of the board of Sovcomflot
Having graduated from high ranking schools in the UK and France, one might assume Mr Tonkovidov was aware of his leadership potential from an early age, but he is more modest when discussing his career path. “I guess it resulted from a typical process. First, you choose your profession, then you start working for a company and if you perform your job in professional manner, with real dedication and passion, then in most cases it is noticed and appreciated.
Second, you really should love your job and perform it with commitment and engagement – people can sense this from miles away. Third, you should keep yourself well informed in terms of your knowledge spectrum, as you work your way up the management ladder.”
The early part of his career was notably hands-on. “Since 1993, most of my career has been with Sovcomflot Group, which I joined after serving at sea as marine engineer. I have held different positions within technical and operational management. It has been a good stepping-stone to the chief executive officer role, which I was privileged to be offered in September 2019.”
During his time at Sovcomflot, he has worked with a wide range of individuals, who he has led by doing, rather than telling. “People are led by example and I have been fortunate enough during my career to work with impressive individuals with a deep knowledge of a variety of subjects related to the maritime industry. It also goes without saying that my predecessor, Sergey Frank, has undoubtedly been exemplary.”
Sovcomflot is currently taking part in one of the largest challenges the tanker industry has ever faced. “The most important change [I have seen] is related to our pioneering work towards the decarbonisation of the tanker industry, together with our partners at Shell. My involvement began almost five years ago, on the operational side, while I was serving as chief operating/chief technical officer of Sovcomflot.
“Since 2015, our team has been working extensively on adopting LNG fuel for Sovcomflot’s tanker fleet. The first tangible results came in 2018, when we introduced our pioneering series of ‘Green Funnel’ Aframax crude oil tankers. This led the way in driving the adoption of LNG as a primary fuel for large-capacity oil tankers. So far, the operational data from this change in fuel is very encouraging, confirming the excellent environmental benefits of LNG fuel.”
He continues “We are also exploring the possibility of introducing other alternative fuels and technologies that can reduce environmental impacts. An essential part of Sovcomflot’s strategy is our ‘Green Charter,’ with which we commit ourselves to working towards reducing the carbon footprint of each molecule of energy that our vessels transport.”
On his position as chief executive officer at Sovcomflot, Mr Tonkovidov says “It is without doubt a big challenge but also an honour to serve and help make sure our company continues to prosper.”