Chris Madsen is CEO for ShipCentric’s operations in Asia, where in a relatively short time the company has established itself in no less than 10 countries, including Singapore where Chris resides.
It is now seven months since Madsen and his family moved to Singapore. His two boys had to leave their friends and the Danish school system behind, while his wife had to quit her career working for herself.
The reason they all left Denmark behind is literally floating in the sea – namely ships. Or to be more exact, software provided directly to Ship Suppliers to help them with their daily business processes.
The software – called ShipCentric Navision Ship Supplier – is build on Microsoft’s Navision and developed in Denmark by the Danish company ShipCentric, whose company headquarters are located in Birkerød. ShipCentric Navision Ship Supplier provides the maritime industry with the tools to manage and integrate their entire operations. Their solution allows for the integration of financial management, inventory management, vessel management, customer relationship management and electronic e-commerce through different third party platforms.
ShipCentric is still looking to land its first costumer in Singapore, but that is what Chris Madsen was employed to change and in pursuit of that influential first account he has dedicated his time mainly at fairs marketing the innovative software.
The choice of Singapore as a pivotal marine base for the company’s Asian operations was carefully considered.
“Just a few years ago the maritime world evolved around Europe, but the latest years the industry has grown in Asia and today it is the biggest marked. And Singapore is one of the big shipping hubs,” Chris explains adding, “And where there is a harbour, we have potential customers.”
“So far we have been concentrating on Hong Kong, Korea and China, but Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are next on our list,” he says.
Soon it will be revealed if the time spent on the fairs has been worth it and has resulted in new customers – and a real entry into the Asian marked.
“There is a great deal of interest in our product – we just finished a seminar for potential customers at Microsoft in Singapore. A lot of them have developed their own solutions, but sees an advantage in investing in an industry specific management solution. Because they know it will cost them a lot of money to develop and maintain a similar software,” Chris explains.
More Than Software
The company ShipCentric have existed for a long time and its records can be dated back a long way.
“We have customers in Denmark, who have been using the system for 15 years. They started way back using the old DOS-version,” Chris explains.
The DOS-version is now a dinosaur and has by far been replaced by another solution – based on Microsoft’s Navision platform.
“In 2002 when Microsoft brought Danish Navision, we changed our platform to a Microsoft solution. Now we use their standard line. That means that every time Microsoft updates their systems, we will make one too. Therefore the program will always stay up-to-date.”
“Microsoft Navision has an incredible amount of features – on top of that we added extra features that cover the needs of the maritime industry,” Chris says.
Furthermore a lot of the employees at ShipCentric, like Chris, have previously worked in the Shipping industry and that adds the ability to see what is wanted by shipping companies.
Runs on consultants
ShipCentric is not only based on a Microsoft platform, they even cooperate directly with Microsoft through their status as Gold Certified Partner. Through this cooperation they have access to a long list of other partners, from which ShipCentric have chosen their Asian partners and trained them in the ShipCentric software.
It is through these partners that ShipCentric has established itself in ten countries in Asia, despite the fact that only Chris Madsen works directly for ShipCentric.
“Right now we have roughly 300 consultants, who sell and implement our solutions. In the long run, when we get established out here, I will have to bring in more people to help me control all our activities.”
And based on the interest shown for ShipCentric programs right now, Chris foresees that it won’t be long before be has company joining him.
“We are employing more people in ShipCentric APAC to help our partners in Asia. Right now we are looking for more office space, as we already with our current 38 people (Chris and the partners in Singapore) have grown out of our current office,” he smiles.
10 years with IT
Chris Madsen started his career in shipping, only to ride the IT wave when it came rolling in the mid-90’s. But in the end it was his relationship with shipping that brought him to Singapore.
While working with Aalborg Portland and KMD (Kommune Data, a company that develops systems for Danish municipalities) he also found the time to take several courses inside project management.
“Then I had an enquiry as to whether or not I would like to have a job in Singapore, and that resulted in me joining ShipCentric about a year ago.”
“Moving to Asia – a region I have heard so much about was of course a big step,” he remembers.
That is why he did his “homework” before accepting the position.
“I was in Singapore and Hong Kong last January to meet with the partners. After that trip and having seen the city with my own eyes – my wife Pia Olsen and I made the decision that it was something we as a family wanted to do.”
“The reason I chose Singapore over for instance Hong Kong, was that I felt safe in Singapore – this is important when you have children. Back in Denmark I hardly dared to send them with a taxi on their own. Down here they use taxies all the time, when they are going to see their friends.”
Chris’s two boys, Alexander aged 13 and Frederik aged 11, were both enrolled in the Danish school system and it was a big step to pull them out.
“But I see great opportunities for them down here. They are attending the Overseas Family School (OFS). Their stay here means they are learning English as a first language – and see first hand how the world is evolving. The knowledge they are going to pick up about Asia combined with good English will place them in a strong position later on,” the proud father reckons.
“Of course they miss their friends and family, but they are doing great in school – and enjoying the weather and water too,” Chris says, adding that the missing friends were quickly replaced by new ones.
“They now have friends stretching all the way from S. Korea to the US. Friends they have made through school.”
Leaving with out a job
Chris’s wife, Pia Olsen, gave up her career too in Denmark to follow him to Singapore, but she has also adjusted well.
“She thinks it is very nice to come live in a sunnier country,” he says smiling and adds:
“But of course it was a challenge for her to arrive here without a job, as she had her own shop in Denmark.”
“Just after the move she spend a lot of time getting the children to adjust to the new school and starting a new daily routine, but now that job is almost done. So I think she will find something else to use her energy on,” Chris smiles knowingly.