Strategizing with Mathieu Philippe, our Commercial Director
Mathieu Philippe, Commercial Director for Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore, talks to Nicholas Brown, Head of Communications, about his vision for 2021 and beyond.
NB: Can you tell us about your background in the marine and offshore industry?
MP: I began my career as a broker for BRS, and in 2002 I was sent to Dubai to open their Middle East branch. I spent a total of 15 years in Dubai, working first for a tanker-broking house, and later becoming COO of United Arab Chemical Carriers. Eventually I came back to Europe, as head of shipping for the state oil company of Azerbaijan, where I reorganized the chartering department and managed ship owner activities.
NB: Why did you transition to working for a classification society?
MP: After so many years in the oil industry – and in some ways, I remain a tanker man through and through – I was interested in seeing a new side of the business. In my last few roles before coming to Bureau Veritas, I worked with multiple classification societies and realized how crucial their work is to the overall progress of the shipping industry. One LinkedIn message from Mathieu de Tugny and many interviews later, here I am.
NB: You started working at Bureau Veritas in February 2020. What was it like starting a new role during a global pandemic?
MP: Challenging. Fortunately, I had about a month in the office before remote work became the norm, giving me time to meet the Head Office management team and some Regional Heads. Still, that just about scratches the surface at Bureau Veritas. The head office is enormous, with a wide variety of departments and teams with different areas of expertise.
That said, meeting everyone via Microsoft Teams did somewhat ease the transition. I was just one new element among many, and in the same boat as everyone else, working from home and communicating virtually.
NB: What is your overarching objective as Director of Sales?
MP: My objective is to reinforce our connection with customers – ship owners, shipyards, charterers, energy providers, etc. – matching our wealth of technical knowledge to their needs. Bureau Veritas has long been known as an innovator, and we are continuing in that tradition, increasing digitalization and mastering the evolving landscape for green shipping.
However, we also need to meet our customers where they are. I want our clients to understand that Bureau Veritas’ expertise is equally applicable to the existing fleet and the low-carbon vessels of tomorrow, and that we can help them advance from any baseline.
NB: What are your top priorities for 2021?
MP: First, to set up a tanker-specific team with a deep understanding of the market and tanker owner needs. Tankers depend on flexibility and fast response times from classification societies, as their routes change constantly due to spot trading and intense competition. Bureau Veritas’ tanker team should have the business awareness and empathy to meet client expectations, ensuring surveys are performed while working flexibly with tanker owners.
Second, we will increase our activities in the offshore wind market, having Bureau Veritas provide more Rules and technical support, and helping new players enter this growing market.
NB: What are Bureau Veritas’ greatest advantages and challenges?
MP: Our greatest strength is Bureau Veritas’ excellent and impartial technical expertise, as well as our ability to be perceived as a trusted partner and classification society. Clients see us as a classification society that puts its decades of experience and knowledge to work to help them navigate their challenges, from design approval to decommissioning, and achieve their ambitions.
In terms of challenges, I’d like to encourage a more holistic view of our customers’ markets, business models and needs. Rather than being divided into technical and commercial, I want everyone at Bureau Veritas to see both sides of the coin, and coordinate on our clients’ behalf.
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