Maersk Line in Thailand has appointed Thomas Lindy Sørensen as the new Managing Director.
By Joan Brasholt Larsen
Before his most recent appointment, Thomas Lindy Sørensen was Head of Maersk Line in SEA, overseeing the Operations, Commercial and Market Intelligence Teams. He also worked in the Commercial Management team in Copenhagen, where he was responsible for the Trans pacific route. The latter only describes an inch of his previous work experience. His road to becoming a Managing Director in Thailand includes working in several high positions in different countries.
The road to Thailand
Thomas Lindy Sørensen joined AP- Mærsk’s trainee program as Finance trainee in 1991. One of things that attracted him about this position was the international perspective and the possibility to work abroad. A possibility he indeed has taken the advantage of ever since. After finishing the trainee program he was placed in Hong Kong, where his first culture adventure abroad began.
Before his current position as Managing Director in Thailand his journey in relation to work includes working in cities as; Copenhagen, Beijing and Shenzhen, Mumbai, and Singapore.
Having worked in Asia for many years has provided him with a work experience and cultural knowledge, which not only is beneficial to him personally but also to AP Møller Maersk in general.
Thomas Lindy Sørensen further explains that working in Asia has made him realize that a solution to a problem comes in many disguises. In the beginning he would respond to a problem in the Danish straightforward way, but has realized since then that things abroad might be dealt with differently, and results just as notable.
“I try to keep an open mind to everything and accept that there is not one right way to do things, I think that we as Danes can learn a lot by having an open mind to other cultures and ways of living”, he says. A statement, which tricks the question: Do you think Danes are narrow-minded?
The answer is clear: “No! I just believe that it is rewarding for people to go abroad to learn about other cultures, which will give them a perspective on life. If you only stay in one country you will only have that culture and certain norms to refer to,” he explains.
“As part of the international trainee program a number of foreign trainees would go to Denmark and initially have great challenges in adjusting to the local cuisine, those same people not understanding why foreigners in their country were not to keen on trying the local cuisine there. Neither is wrong but our respective ‘map of the world’ is very different and through living overseas we will get to understand each other better.”
On a personal level he finds that adjusting to different cultures have become easier as well.
“The more time you spend abroad makes the adjustment period less difficult. It all depends on how you interact with people. It is important to get to now the locals and to listen and understand where they are coming from,” he explains. And ending up in Thailand gives him a clear advantage on this matter, as he is married to a Thai woman, former employee at Maersk Line in Thailand. The Thai culture he is familiar with, the language on the other hand will be a challenge. He is determined though to learn Thai, and will take lessons onwards, as he thinks, that it is important to gain language knowledge of the country in which you residence.
The position as Managing Director in Thailand
From his previous job in Singapore Thomas Lindy Sørensen had been dealing a quite a bit with Maersk Line in Thailand. He knew that this was a high calibre organization that would respond well to the streamline strategy, which is in the process of being implemented within Maersk Line.
In brief Streamline was initiated on January 8, 2008 due to an unsatisfying development within Mærsk Line. The strategy was to simplify the structure in the organisation, which led to changes in terms of responsibility in work areas and employees work positions. 3000 positions have globally been shut down. One of the ideas in the strategy is to give more power to the local organizations. Previously Maersk Line in Thailand was mainly run from Singapore, but with Streamline, Thomas Lindy Sørensen has a greater say in terms of running the business in Thailand, which has made the position as Managing Director more attractive.
Implementing a strategy is challenging work, and one of his priorities, as Managing Director is to make sure that the organization can handle the structural changes in Thailand. Furthermore he aims to make the different departments within the organisation cooperate even better, he explains. Implementing Streamline has so far been successful. Results on the export market have so far increased with 25% in Thailand.
Managing Director and Denmark
Eventually he will return to Denmark with his family. He and his wife have a three-year old daughter, who currently is enrolled in an international School program in Thailand. She speaks Thai fluently, but the Danish language could be improved, which is one of the reasons the family wants to go back to Denmark at some point in time – the next 4-5 years are expected to be spent in Thailand.
“Friends and family in Denmark is a priority as well,” he explains.
But so far the position as Managing Director is a great challenge and the family enjoys to life in Bangkok, an extremely international city, where you can find people from all over the world.
“A great environment to live in,” he finishes.