Leading international operator of modern dry bulk vessels

Back to News

Building Bench Strength – preparing for a digital transition

News 11 July 2023 Global

Norvic Shipping prides itself on the breadth and depth of experience of its senior team. In this series, we find out more about their careers, roles and interests.

Jacob Blicher joined Norvic Shipping as Director and Head of Operations – Atlantic in 2022, to manage the global organization’s cultural and strategic evolution. Here, he explains how the company has progressed since his arrival.   

What prompted you to join Norvic in 2022?

At the time, I knew Norvic was going through various changes such as switching from analogue to digital to stay ahead in an ever-evolving industry. When the opportunity to join Norvic came up, it was a chance for me to help develop the operations of an already progressive organization.

How has the organization developed since you joined?

We’ve introduced digital tools that enable colleagues to keep track of Norvic’s standing within the industry. Our teams can now access historical and current data on our market position, trade patterns and past performance. We have also partnered with a weather routing provider, whose data feeds into our internal digital systems so we can quickly update voyages using more accurate information on wind speeds or wave swells, for example. Today, dry bulk operators need the latest data to make transportation as efficient and cost-effective as possible; not having that information is like driving a car blindfolded.

Elsewhere, I’ve helped change or develop many internal procedures such as streamlining how we process payments or providing consistent correspondence when emailing clients in different regions, ensuring customers in all markets receive the same communications and high levels of service.

While updating or introducing new internal operations, we had to make sure Norvic employees who needed to adopt these new processes as part of their roles were fully prepared for the transition. It was also important to communicate these developments to the wider, global team to ensure they understood the changes we were making and give them the opportunity to share their views on what was happening.

How has being transparent with colleagues about internal changes helped them and the organization?

People across all our offices need to know what’s happening to understand the direction we’re going in, and to be given the chance to speak up if they have an alternative view or suggestion. Everyone then feels empowered, which helps foster a great team spirit throughout our regions and business units. Dry bulk is a 24-hour industry, so treating employees respectfully, making sure they feel appreciated and supporting them with their professional development are vital.

What makes a good leader?

My job is to support and serve my colleagues. If someone says, “Jacob, these procedures aren’t working”, it’s up to me to find a way to make them work. I also have to support my team with any issues, whether something happens during working hours or at three in the morning. If things become difficult, the leader bears the responsibility and if they go well you celebrate as a team – that’s the way it works.

With so many cultures working for Norvic in different regions, you have to think about your demeanour and how you engage with others. Authenticity and honesty are important, but you need to consider the signals you send to colleagues. You have to think about other nationalities; how your act or communicate with others can be interpreted differently based on their culture. It’s important to consider your body language, how you speak in meetings and the societal norms your colleagues follow, such as gathering for communal lunches or going out for drinks after work. Understanding different cultures and taking an interest in people will make you a better leader.

What does the future hold for the company?

Norvic is a family business that has grown into a global operation since its launch, making it unique to other dry bulk operators because the executive team can make quick decisions without delay. Although shipping can move at a slower pace than other sectors, Norvic’s senior team is keen to continually develop and evolve the company, as we’ve seen recently with the introduction of new processes and procedures that support the cultural and strategic changes across our offices. This dynamic approach sets Norvic apart from its competitors.