The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association (NSA) is an industry organization with approximately 160 member companies, representing a wide variety of vessels and operations, and positioned in the center of Norway’s “maritime cluster.”  As globalization continues to make the world smaller and more connected, NSA assists in positioning its members to ensure a continued pole position in the global competition.  As part of this effort, NSA partnered with Duke Corporate Education (Duke CE) to create the Maritime Executive Program (Marex), a program targeting top executives and senior leaders in Norway’s entire maritime cluster.  Marex is put together with four modules held during the course of one year around the globe in various markets, reflecting important areas of competence relevant to maritime development.

The program’s focus is for participants to learn world-class practices in strategy, organization, and leadership and apply these leadership principles to their own organizations to enhance their company’s future and the future of Norway’s maritime industry.

“With our new Maritime Executive Program NSA is establishing initiatives throughout the entire maritime competence value chain, from seafarers, through top executives to university professors,” said Tore Forsmo, the Director of the Department of Competence and Recruitment for the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association. “Norway is a maritime leader globally and in order to further develop and enhance this position we need also to strengthen and grow our leadership capabilities. Partnering with Duke CE and creating Marex is an important step in this direction”.

The goal of the program is for participants to understand the critical knowledge areas that will enable Norway to continue to be a leader in engaging global markets and forecasting and understanding trends in areas such as finance, market strategies, and innovation, with the ultimate goal of growing the maritime cluster.  To achieve these goals, Duke CE and NSA designed a program for senior executives representing companies across the value chain of maritime shipping, from ship owning-and operating companies, to marine insurers, equipment manufacturers, yards and shipping financiers.  The Maritime Executive Program consists of four modules, held around the globe in Oslo, Durham, London, and Shanghai, enabling participants to learn in and about the various markets through content, discussion, collaboration and activities, company site visits, cultural experiences and guest speakers.

“At Duke CE, we do work mostly with individual companies so it’s very clear that it’s about strategy execution for that company. Yet here we have companies from across industry represented, sometimes competing with another, sometimes suppliers and customer to each other so we had to know the interests of each of the players in the industry,” said Bruce McBratney, a member of the Duke CE Global Learning Resource Network and the Orchestrator educator for the Marex program. “We needed to understand where the competitive issues were because we don’t want this experience to be one where competitors are concerned by what they say and they are going to reveal their hand to each other so that had to be an important lens that we looked at the content through. I think it is a fascinating approach, particularly with the Norwegian Maritime cluster, they really do see there’s value in this intra-country cluster. It’s been talked about for years, but these guys really enact it. It’s a fascinating combination of highly competitive companies coming together and seeing the common interests and common ways they can help each other to have an advantage in world maritime market.”

Woven throughout the program Duke CE facilitates change on three levels:  the acquisition and sharing of new knowledge, a new mindset through insight and reflection, and skills practiced and new behaviors.  Each module covers integrated themes beginning with a module on global economics.  The second and third modules are centered on innovation, environment, climate, and energy, and global politics and key maritime issues.  The Maritime Executive Program ends with a module on a deeper understanding of China.

The Maritime Executive Program uses experienced leadership educators, as well as subject matter experts in unique areas to contribute to the learning environment of the program.  Educator collaboration prior to each module creates a seamless integration of case examples, articles, and pre-reads and builds on the idea of growing organizations through strategy and through innovation.

The program was also designed to leverage each participant’s unique knowledge base of different areas across the shipping industry so the senior leaders serve as teachers to each other.  In addition, the setting provides a valuable arena where leaders can grow their own networks for continued knowledge sharing in the future.  The combination of thought leaders, subject matter experts, and senior executives in the industry creates an ecosystem of knowledge and a learning environment where the challenges of global expansion can be addressed through complementary knowledge sets, collaboration, discussion, and practical application.

“One thing is a greater understanding of the Norwegian Maritime Cluster and we work with some of these participating companies that are present, some of them are clients but some of these companies we do not interact directly with so it’s very useful insight,” said one of the participants, Frode Bjorklund who is a Senior Vice President at DVB Bank SE, Nordic Branch. “The content has confirmed some of the things I learned as an MBA and I am going to apply some of the content. With my team, some of the insights from the financial analysis, which we do on a daily basis, we got some twists on it from the educator”.

The participants are gaining a better understanding of the maritime industry’s competitive environment and valuable knowledge and understanding of how the maritime cluster can work together to improve business throughout the entire value chain. Marex is developing leadership skills that participants can apply to understand how they can become better leaders and improve their own organizations, which will in turn boost the maritime cluster.

This program is a unique offering in the marketplace by focusing the leadership development on the individual, business as well as sector level. The NSA and Duke CE have worked to create an atmosphere where participants can balance individual company competitiveness and industry transparency to grow the industry which benefits all participants. Because the old John F. Kennedy quote “a rising tide lifts all boats” really is true in preparing the Norwegian Shipping industry for the future.