P3 CEO: These are the challenges for the alliance

There are three cultures to consider, bridges to build and water tight shutters that need to be established at the operational level in P3. ShippingWatch has spoken to the alliance's newly appointed CEO.

On Wednesday, Lars Michael Jensen was named as the future CEO of P3 Network Center. The London-based center will serve as the operational unit controlling the massive collaborative effort in the coming P3 alliance.

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As head of operations, Lars Michael Jensen's job will be to unite the expectations and cultures of the three carriers.

"It will be my job to make sure that the network created by the three carriers runs as smoothly, efficiently, and reliably as possible," says Lars Michael Jensen, who's pleased to have been given the opportunity to head the major project, which covers 255 ships and the handling of around 2.6 million teu per year.

He has been involved in the project since its initial phases of the P3 collaboration, and without saying for how long, Lars Michael Jensen admits that he knew he would be the one heading the dominant container alliance.

Will serve as both bridge and shutter

One of the biggest challenges for the new CEO will be launching the network center and uniting the different cultures of the carriers while also making sure that there are watertight shutters in place between the P3 Network Center and the carriers Maersk Line, MSC, and CMA CGM.

"We're looking at three carriers with strong wills of their own and long independent histories that will now have to work together. The network center will handle the collaborative aspects. There will be watertight shutters in place between us and the carriers, but we will also serve as a bridge between the three carriers," says Lars Michael Jensen to ShippingWatch.

Not afraid of the cultural challenge

And there will be times where the three carriers will have different opinions on how to handle some of the working matters in the P3 alliance.

"The biggest challenge here will be that we'll sometimes be looking at three different opinions on what to do, but the network center will be an independent operational center, so we'll be the ones making a judgment call in the specific situation. Of course,  when everything is up and running properly, this won't be a problem, but say a strike happens, what do we do then? Which ships do we prioritize? We'll have to make that call, and it may not be a call that all three partners agree upon. In that case, we'll have to do what's best for the common good," says Lars Michael Jensen.

However, he's not worried about the collaboration suffering from the cultural differences between the carriers.

"I've served as trade manager at Maersk Line for many years, and I've worked with MSC and CMA CGM on various vessel sharing agreements. And we're all three part of the Pacific trade agreement where I've headed Maersk Line's activities for three years. I've worked with the two carriers here on the operational aspects of this agreement. So I know a lot of the people working with this in Marseille and Geneva, and that probably played a decisive part in me being the one to get the job," says Lars Michael Jensen.

The operational A-team

The London-based company, which will be established once final approvals have been secured from the Chinese, European, and US authorities, will have a clearly defined position in relation to the carriers' work. From the beginning, Lars Michael Jensen points out the importance of ensuring that the P3 Network Center complies with the interests of the partners.

"The most important thing will be that we, as an operational center, maintain a neutral position benefiting the wishes of all three carriers, and that we establish and execute the best network in the world. I need to gather the operational A-team, and then we have to show that we can sail all these massive ships in a sensible and efficient way that customers will want to use, "says Lars Michael Jensen.

He's convinced that the construction will be approved by the authorities, and Lars Michael Jensen expects that the company will be finalized and ready to start actual work in about six months. At that time, 200 employees will have been hired to work at the London center and in Singapore.

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