#162: Supply Chain, Sustainability and Leadership at Hempel – a CEO perspective

Michael Hansen was appointed Group President & Chief Executive Officer of Hempel in October 2022. 

Michael joined Hempel in May 2017 as Group Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, before becoming Executive Vice President of Energy & Infrastructure. He previously worked for 19 years at Maersk, one of the world’s largest shipping companies, where he most recently held the position of Vice President & Global Head of Sales at Maersk Line.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.



Connect with the Guest:

Michael Hansen: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • What shaped Michael’s personal and professional growth
  • How to make successful industry career transitions: leaving Maersk and joining Hempel
  • Complexity as a strength in business relationships
  • Seeking moral integrity and selfless leadership in hires
  • Using reference checks and testing for self-awareness in hiring
  • Advice for aspiring leaders: Balancing ambition with patience

Show notes:

  • [0:55] If you were to think back, what were some of the moments that really shaped who you are and where you are today? 
  • [2:05] When I look back at my career, these two moments stand out, leaving Maersk and putting myself on a completely new trajectory, but equally joining Maersk at the age of 22 and gaining international experience and exposure.
  • [2:46] You started as an Executive Vice President and Head of Sales, and now you are the CEO. What were some of the secrets of success or ingredients that made this possible? 
  • [4:52] The secret sauce when I reflect on it is really being open-minded and being curious and interested in understanding the full value chain of that new company from sourcing raw materials, developing new formulations, creating these products, marketing them to our customers, and addressing their needs.
  • [6:47] As the CEO of the company, what are some of the top priorities that you’re focused on for the next 12 to 24 months?
  • [8:19] If we can be a part of a more sustainable future, by extending the lifetime of steel, it’s incredibly important. 
  • [12:01] When you look at Hamble operations, value chain, also perhaps putting this lens of sustainability, what would be the expectations of your operations teams to help you achieve what you’ve set up to choose as a business?
  • [12:38] It’s a really broad value chain that we have in operations but what is true for all of that is that the challenge is about finding new and even more sustainable solutions. 
  • [16:28] You mentioned the need for licenses to operate. However, clients ultimately will not pay a lot more for a sustainable solution. I mean, in fairness, they ideally you should have the same solution more sustainable. That’s their ideal. I’m not sure how to phrase my question, but I’m hoping your experience could offer some insights or thoughts on this matter.
  • [18:36] We need to remind ourselves that yesterday’s agenda is also relevant today, even though there’s something new, but embrace the complexity because it can be translated into a strength in a, you could say, a differentiator, in front of our customers.
  • [18:58] If you have this magic wand that would fix or give you access or visibility or knowledge to a certain thing that you don’t currently have across your value chain. What would that be?
  • [19:17] I think if I had a magic wand, it would significantly increase our digital competencies across our business.
  • [21:11] What are some of the steps that you have taken on this journey of accelerating the digital side of Hempel? 
  • [21:20] One of the first calls that I made coming into this role was that I untangled our digital department.
  • [23:58] I see that linked a little bit to what you said, with the short-term thinking, if you’re just trying to ride the wave without fundamentally looking after the basis and roots of your business, ultimately, you’re going to end up in some sort of trouble. So let me just pause and see if you have any thoughts that triggered as well.
  • [24:18] I actually think I’ve been on a personal learning journey there because I’ve also myself been trigger-happy in terms of driving transformation driving new ideas, and you know, wanting to reinvent way too often.
  • [27:09] What are some of those elements of values, or core skills that you’re looking for in people that you want to hire?
  • [29:31] Moral integrity and selfless leadership are two elements that I think are important that complements the functional skills and create a really powerful leadership.
  • [30:22] What are some of the cues that you take to derive the conclusion that this person is indeed one who displays those skills?
  • [30:52] Having reference checks from people who have previously reported to that person, I think it’s an important dimension. The other thing is testing for what I call self-awareness.
  • [32:34] If you were to give some pieces of advice could be to your younger self, to somebody that maybe now graduates and embarks on a corporate career, and maybe one day wants to be CEO. What would that be? What helped you the most?
  • [32:51] Maybe something that I wish I had been better at is being patient, being super ambitious, but also being patient.

Quotes from the Episode:

About the Host:

The host, Radu Palamariu is the co-author of “From Source to Sold – Stories of Leadership in Supply Chain”. He has been named one of the top 3 Global Supply Chain Influencers on LinkedIn and was featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, WEF, Bangkok Post, and MIT Supply Chain Talent magazine. Radu invites executives to share stories and perspectives around technology, logistics, e-commerce, supply chain, and manufacturing, and their views on how the future will look.

Alcott Global connects and upgrades the supply chain ecosystem by finding the right talent through executive search, developing talent through learning solutions, and meeting supply chain technology needs through a comprehensive crunch base marketplace.

The supply chain executive search has been our focus since the very beginning, offering recruitment services for top-tier supply chain roles at every level of the end-to-end supply chain: plan, source / procure, make, and deliver. Our consultants have years of experience in placing top talent, in North America, LATAM, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and APAC, and besides speed, one of our biggest strengths is our network within the supply chain industry, and we capitalize on it to find the best solutions.

Through the years, we have grown as an organization and our offerings with it. One of our initiatives, the learning solutions- training and supply chain academy, is focused on transforming leadership- self-leadership, executive presence, influence capital, and business acumen. Through Supplify, we aim to match corporations with the top technology companies to solve their supply chain and logistics challenges with a focus on innovation and digital transformation.

We are in constant touch with the leaders in supply chain, inviting them to inspire the supply chain professionals in thought-provoking podcast episodes and events, and showcasing what is possible at the yearly Leaders in Supply Chain Awards.

Related Episodes:

#159: Logistics in Saudi Arabia and Development Vision for 2030

#160: From Mom of 3 to COO: The Unconventional Climb

#161: Apple’s supply chain, China and Vision Pro




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