Bo-Lennart Thorbjörnsson is, together with Frans Baud, the co-organiser of the Ferry Shipping Summit.
With less than 50 days to go, it is time to ask Bo-Lennart some questions.
What is your background in the ferry industry?
After I finished my studies at the University of Lund (Sweden), I enjoyed a non-stop career in ferry shipping. For 17 years I was head and managing director of DFDS Seaways. For other ferry companies, such as Smyril Line, Hurtigruten and Fjord Line, I have been member of the board or observer.
For several European ferry companies, I have been, or still am, advisor and analyst.
How did you have the idea to organise Ferry Shipping Summit? Weren’t there enough conferences?
There is certainly plenty of everything in this world: airlines, car brands, ferry operators and conferences.
However, we live in a time of fast change and development. Actually, change is the only constant thing.
History shows many examples of organisations that too late understood the winds of change. Look at a company like Kodak. They were the masters of photography but did not believe in the digital revolution.
With the Ferry Shipping Summit we want to embrace the new possibilities for the ferry industry.
Who do you think needs to attend the Ferry Shipping Summit?
The target group includes ferry- and port operators, plus their supply partners.
The focus of the summit will be on future possibilities in an operational development for the industry.
Why should somebody attend, and what can they expect?
It is a future-oriented conference. It has high quality speakers, bringing information about valuable operational possibilities.
Digital development and transformation are an everyday reality. As a business leader you always have to look into the future and not be afraid of change.
The Ferry Shipping Summit also aims at being the perfect setting for efficient networking with industry colleagues.
Why do you have the Summit in Amsterdam?
Today more than ever, time is money. Top management delegates can’t spend days extra, travelling to and from conferences and meetings.
Amsterdam is Europe’s best connected city. It has short and frequent daily flights to everywhere. The conference venue is 20 minutes from the airport. It is a one-minute walk from the Central Station. From the rooftop you have a panoramic view over the waterfront. For the historic centre of Amsterdam you just have to cross a bridge or two. And do not forget, Amsterdam is Europe’s fifth biggest port..
Both you and Frans Baud have a lifetime of industry- and corporate expertise. I can see your enthusiasm, just as if you were 25-year old guys starting a freelance business. Do you feel it that way?
Absolutely. Personally, I have always been fascinated by the future development of our industry, using new ideas and technology.
Also, I believe it is important to take action, and not waiting to change until you are overtaken by competition.
How do you see the state of the ferry industry right now?
This is a time of optimism, change and opportunities.
We see many operators with good performances, and more than ever new ferries are under construction or on order. The question is if they are built on realistic business strategies. It is also interesting to know if there are any fall-back strategies. However, I am optimistic. History shows that our industry is resilient. There have been rough seas but strong companies have sailed their ships into safe waters.
Whatever good times or bad times, the only constant thing is change.