A 54-kilometre run through the Swiss mountains is but one way of introducing Maersk Tankers’ new Chief Commercial Officer, Eva Birgitte Bisgaard.
She completed that lung-busting feat last year, part of her approach to go at things “110-percent” both at work and play.
With that intensity also comes a refreshing informality: “Just call me Eva,” she insists, at the start of our interview. Her accessible and relaxed attitude allowed us to glide into a one-and-a-half-hour chat.
Born in Paris to a Norwegian father and a Danish mother Eva spent time at an English boarding school before ending up in Bergen in Norway where her father worked in shipping.
At the University of Bergen, she dabbled in French literature, reading Albert Camus and wondering what path to take in life - and she soon realized “I’m definitely more of a commercial person. I’m more of ‘how do we face this; how do we win that.’”
Eva’s academic career finished with a master’s in international business from the University of Aarhus in Denmark.
Her journey to Maersk Tankers was preceded by almost 20 years at the Copenhagen-headquartered telecommunications company, TDC, where she held a range of senior management positions, the last as Chief Commercial Officer and senior Vice President for YouSee.
But then opportunity knocked when Eva spotted a message in her LinkedIn from a headhunter. It was about a job in shipping and she reflexively thought to herself: “I’m only interested if it’s Maersk.”
“I simply wanted to make sure I was going to be with the best; who know what they’re doing and who I can learn from,” she emphasises.
Eva is excited by the company’s shift to becoming a service provider; and as Chief Commercial Officer, securing value for Maersk Tankers’ partners will lie at the heart of her new role.
“The future direction will pivot on our ability to create customer experience and engagement to provide commercial management for our partners' assets.”
Maersk Tankers has also presented Eva with an irresistible opportunity to be part of the generation steering the industry on to a more sustainable path.
“We need to be in the engine room of that change. We need to be clever and figure out how digital technology can enable us to do our job better than yesterday. And it is this new knowledge we need to bring to our partners and show them how our services drive extra value.”
And it’s not just customers or partners the new CCO is focused on; she is equally enthusiastic about working with her new colleagues at Maersk Tankers.
“I am open and energetic, and extremely passionate about what I do and the people I work with. I always want to be engaged – and I want to engage.”
She is not exaggerating. Her spirit is infectious, and I found myself fired up about the crucial role shipping plays in the world. She effused about how for centuries shipping has been the bridge connecting people from far-flung countries and cultures.
“Shipping takes me back to nature and to our history. It is a 5,000-year-old industry. It is the mother of trade and has birthed globalisation. Now that is really cool!”
A woman leader with a wealth of experience, Eva believes in a broad and meaningful diversity that reflects the very globalisation the shipping industry is a big part of.
We need to be open to people from everywhere, no matter what their background – from different industries, ages, ethnicities, religions, genders and sexual orientations.
If her exercise regimen is anything to go by, driving results at Maersk Tankers won’t be a problem for Eva Birgitte Bisgaard. Whether it’s marathons, ironman events or sweating through the Swiss Alps, her extreme running dovetails nicely with her professional zeal and stamina.