THE EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW June 2020 Jan Rindbo: a long road to recovery for shipping post-Covid-19 In each issue, the Bulletin interviews a shipping executive about current topics, challenges, opportunities and personal background. In this edition, the Bulletin talks to Jan Rindbo, Chief Executive Officer of Dampskibsselskabet Norden. T By Mette Kronholm Frnde, Communications Manager and Editor at BIMCO he Covid-19 outbreak has had a devastating impact on demand and the global economy. In Jan Rindbos view despite the fact that Norden has experienced only minor disruptions so far shipping markets will not return to pre-pandemic levels until next year. On the more immediate horizon, crew-change and ship survey dilemmas are only just starting to show and will start building up if unresolved, despite companies ability to adapt to the challenges. With some countries starting to reopen for business, the biggest challenge facing the head of a globally operating shipping company of 350 ships going forward, is the economic hangover. According to Rindbo, the reopening of countries does not mean the worst is over, nor that the crisis has passed, particularly for dry bulk. So far, Norden has felt little impact from the Covid-19 crisis, as the companys strategy and structure has allowed for quick adaptations. Any future impacts will depend on how individual shipping markets fare. This has had a devastating impact on the global economy, which is now in a worse state than it was prior to the Covid-19 crisis. That impacts demand for the dry bulk products and oil products that we carry on our ships. We have seen some demand destruction and that is a concern, says Rindbo. The reopening of countries does not mean the worst is over, nor that the crisis has passed You can hope that, as economies open up again, things will normalise somehow or somewhat. But I dont expect a true V-shaped recovery for shipping and I dont think we will just go back to a normalised dry cargo market and be back at pre-crisis levels before the end of the year. It is a tough period and I think the world economy will suffer, even as economies are opening up. Contrary to the dry bulk market, Norden has enjoyed a positive time in the tanker segment because of the collapse in the price of oil, and customers rushing to store it at attractive prices. Drawn to trade, transportation and a global career What was the first job you ever held and where in the world was it? What was the first job you held in the shipping/ maritime industry and how did you end up there? If you had not ended up in your current line of work, but done something completely different, what would it be and why? Where in the world did you grow up? What do you do when you need to relax from a hectic work life? We have had a very good period because of the stock building of oil floating storage, but it is not really a healthy sign for the market. Building inventory on board ships is really just a temporary solution, and I think there will be a price to pay on the other side of this, also for tankers, he says. Passing the unexpected test Despite the bleak economic outlook and the effect that will have on shipping markets, operating a world-wide company during an unexpected crisis of this magnitude has also produced a surprising, positive aspect, says Rindbo. Norden has 11 offices around the world and the Shanghai operation was the first to shut down. Swiftly, all remaining offices followed suit. You can hope that, as economies open up again, things will normalise somehow or somewhat We are a fairly large operation of 350 ships and really depend on our teams to coordinate and work closely together. The Covid-19 period has been a true test for us as a company, as an organisation and of our systems. We have been able to continue our operations uninterrupted and I am happy to see how we have come through so far, he says. But there are plenty of challenges in terms of the market. Urgent issues building up There are two more current problems facing Norden and the rest of the worlds shipping companies as a result of the pandemic: crew change is near impossible in most parts of the world and ship surveys have stalled as surveyors are denied access to ships because of restrictions and precautions. Much has been said about both issues but now the problems are beginning to multiply and will get worse if solutions are not found soon, Rindbo believes. While operations for the most part have gone on uninterrupted, the crew-change dilemma is the single biggest unresolved problem that we have had, and this issue is becoming bigger as time passes, he says. Rindbo explains that, at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, relatively few contracts had expired and that most employment contracts allow for some degree of flexibility. It is only now that we are starting to run into issues where people are overdue for changes. At the moment, they are just being extended on board the vessels, but the problem also applies to the crew that is waiting to board the ships, he says. As a result of the pandemic, countries are becoming more inward-looking, resulting in co-operation and collaboration across borders moving further down the list of priorities. This, Rindbo believes, has contributed to a lack of clarity about how soon the problem will be solved, despite its global nature. Also building up is the issue around ship survey postponements. Efforts to keep the virus at bay have meant surveyors cannot board ships. Most extensions for surveys are for three months, and with Covid-19 spreading in February and March, many extensions will be running out soon. While many shipowners and operators are turning to remote surveys, there is uncertainty about their acceptance by different flag states and stakeholders. This could become a problem, says Rindbo. We have not had any issues so far and we seem to all find solutions somehow. However, just like the problem with crew changes, the longer this carries on, the bigger and more urgent this issue will become. The crewchange dilemma is the single biggest unresolved problem that we have had Connect with BIMCO Facebook Twitter Linkedin YouTube I washed dishes at a Danish hotel. I was a trainee in TORMs dry cargo department. I applied for a trainee position, was interviewed for a job in the companys liner department but ended up in dry cargo. After my trainee period, I was transferred to a position in dry cargo operations in TORMs Hong Kong office. I purposely sought a career in shipping as I was drawn to trade, transportation and a global career, hence I never really considered a different kind of work or industry. If I had done something different, I imagine it would have been a career with LEGO to inspire kids through creativity while being part of a global company with a quality product and strong values. I was born in Denmark, north of Copenhagen, and went to school in Jutland and later Zealand, south of Copenhagen. Spend time with my family (wife, three kids and a dog) and friends, travel, run, snowboard and follow my favourite football club Aston Villa which I have supported since my early childhood.