President's Column

Managing the What and the How...

No surprise. Our customers are being pushed relentlessly by their competitors. It can be brutal out there. The solution our customers seek from GAC as their service provider is for everything to be faster, cheaper and safer.

These days GAC companies find themselves measured constantly on how fast, cost-effective, safe and secure we are (both physically and financially). On top of these three, we also have to be polite and well-mannered, ethical and complaint, compassionate and caring.

Some solutions to this need for speed etc are being rolled out under the action points for Delta 21. Group Finance is working through the gears to speed up reporting and ensure fewer errors. Group IT is moving our emails into the cloud and our sales and marketing databases are getting better. Human Resource is developing its Learning Development Programme and our Compliance people are getting around the companies to help them run a tighter show. A lot of these solutions involve better use of smart tech. Smart tech solutions help to keep us in the game as far as speed, price and security are concerned. Expect more.

Smart people

There are also a lot of people involved. Our people keep us in the game by demonstrating their good business manners (things like trust, communication and genuine concern), their ethical and compliant practices and their care. In 2016 GAC people gave their time and money to 160+ community and charitable initiatives all around the world.

What does all this mean for GAC managers (and those who want to be managers)? It means you have to look after both the speed/price/security matter and the polite/ethical/caring matter. Or more simply: the tech matter and the people matter. That’s your job. In Dubai the Contract Logistics management team is building infrastructure and automating rapidly. Customers want the benefits of smart, one-button solutions. At the same time, the team has opened a sports ground for staff. It used to be a car park.


How does a manager deal with these two areas? Well, you have to be smart. You have to be quick thinking and also able to pause and reflect. You also have to know useful things: about your business and about your people. And one of those people is you.

This edition of GAC Chat opens up the conversation about managers and their learning pathways. It’s not the final word about managers and what they should or might fancy learning. It’s about making managers’ learning part of the morning coffee chat. More here.

Summary 2016

We’ve got the 2016 Annual Report finalised. Our budget expectations were wide of the mark yet at the same time, some of our companies broke records. This shows the value of being a global Group. Moreover, we continued to invest in growth assets in key locations.

When you work in shipping, logistics and marine markets, you can expect some turbulence but 2016 was nonetheless exceptional. Not so much for what happened, but for what continued to happen. Trade volumes stayed modest and rates stayed slack. The oil price kept our Marine and Oil & Gas operations in low gear. Margins declined overall. Political changes in Europe and the US jolted exchange rates. The challenges for 2017 are equally tough but the Action Plans for Delta 21 will take us a long way towards becoming more resilient and successful in the face of turbulence.

The Performance Support Group has received and acted on two projects coming from our initiative. There was more to them than just having a brilliant thought or insight. Our first two projects were developed using a Simple Business Case Guide which you can find here. Some ideas are harder to develop than others and anybody who has an idea to share needs to develop it into something that the PSG can formally consider. I think we’ve made a good start towards adding more value to the Delta 21 action portfolio from thoughtful GAC people around the GAC world. Your support for this initiative is appreciated.

Racing again

Finally, the Volvo Ocean Race has appointed GAC again to run the event’s worldwide logistics. It’s pleasing to get return business. It’s what every business owner hopes for. When the race starts in October, there will be GAC teams involved all over the world. Let’s ensure we have the Velocity, Unorthodoxy, Collaboration and Awareness to make our 2nd tour of duty both rewarding and profitable.

Bengt Ekstrand