“We can go faster and further by digitalising shipping”: Meet Maersk Tankers’ Chief Digital Officer

Peter Schrøder (r.) and his team

It is fitting that Peter Schrøder, who tells me he has been “sailing all my life”, works for a shipping company. In fact, he recently bought a boat and promises, “when spring hits, I will be on the oceans.” 

Since being appointed Maersk Tankers’ first Chief Digital Officer three years ago, Peter has been at the forefront of developing the revolutionary vessel positioning software SimTanker.

It has taken Peter a while to drop anchor at Maersk Tankers. He has picked up the experience of cutting-edge digital technology over a long and varied career.

Digital skills, he argues, are transferable from sector to sector. Peter has worked in telecoms (BT in London); interactive TV (NDS Denmark), venture capital (Partnerkapital/Vaekstfonden) and publishing (Egmont), where he developed a raft of new digital media services. “Technology is an enabler that can drive transformation and this is what I’ve done throughout my career,” he says.

“The media industry was at the forefront of digitisation – the internet revolutionised it and, therefore, business models had to change.”

Similarly, the largely analogue shipping industry was ripe for change. “It was fertile ground because shipping was not digitised as an industry, and I could see big benefits in using technology to modernise the way it operated,” says Peter.

An equally big pull for Peter was the opportunity to play a key part in reducing shipping’s carbon footprint. “Shipping plays an important role to the world and there’s huge potential to make it greener,” he says. 

Peter Schrøder, Chief Digital Officer at Maersk Tankers

On joining Maersk Tankers in early 2018, he was relieved to discover that “the company’s set-up offered freedom to be creative and come up with new ideas, while also allocating significant funding to bring the ideas to life”.

Before he planted his feet under his new desk, Peter admits to concerns that the company would be “slow, old-fashioned and hierarchical”. In the event, the opposite has proved the case. 

In just a few years, five key products – SimTanker, Optimise, VesselTruth, InSite Digital and Alpha – have been developed. 

“It’s satisfying for me and colleagues throughout the organisation to see the fruits of our work come so quickly. The great thing about the Maersk Tankers culture is that when it decides to do something, it puts weight behind it,” says Peter.

Have there been any other surprises for the Chief Digital Officer? “The industry is much more complex than I anticipated coming from the outside. I didn’t have a clue about shipping,” he says and adds. “We can go faster and further by digitalising shipping, offering solutions that benefit shipowners and the planet - and collaboration across the industry will help us get there.”

Peter has a clutch of qualifications, in economics, mathematics, business and management, which, taken together, straddle the business and technology worlds. “I understand technology; I don’t ‘do’ technology in terms of writing the code. I can develop business ideas and strategies out of technological solutions,” he says.

And he is adamant that the future of the shipping industry is digital: “You cannot turn the clock back – it is impossible to live in an analogue world today.”

About Maersk Tankers

Maersk Tankers is a service company that provides commercial management solutions for shipowners in the tanker industry, operating one of the largest tanker fleets in the world. Our purpose is to pioneer shipping solutions for our partners and the planet. Founded in 1928, we have a century of expertise in management of tankers, which we use to develop and deploy solutions that help shipowners boost the economic and environmental performance of their vessels. Maersk Tankers employs approximately 300 employees in Denmark, Singapore, India and the U.S. and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.