There is a new leader at the helm of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) and he is a figure that is recognisable both within the Company and the wider shipping industry.
Ian Beveridge was appointed Chief Executive Officer of BSM on January 1st, 2018, in extension to his role as CEO of Bernhard Schulte (BS), a position that he has held since 2001.
“Bernhard Schulte, the ship owning business within the Schulte Group, has always worked closely with BSM and that relationship will become even stronger now that I have direct responsibility for both business areas,” he said.
His vision is clear: further alignment of BSM and BS so that their combined knowledge and expertise can be fully used to benefit customers and underpin continued growth of the Schulte Group, which is now in its fifth generation.
With over 26 years of ship owning and ship management experience, gained within the Schulte Group, Ian recognises the global shipping industry is changing and that third-party managers need to evolve and adapt to remain competitive.
“Every owner looks closely at costs, but they also seek value in terms of the services we provide them with. The ability to deliver the highest standards of safety, regulatory compliance, operational performance and energy efficiency with competitive costs is key to successful management,” he clarifies.
“One of the reasons we are able to offer lower operating costs is due to BSM’s scale. We have the capability to source from every corner of the world, regularly benchmarking and identifying the best value without compromising quality. Our purchasing power is global with first class systems and procedures.”
Over the past five years, BSM has extended the range of maritime services it offers to customers and accelerating growth in this area is a priority for Ian.
“This is one of the key reasons why I took up this challenge. As a Group we need to move away from our reliance on ‘steel’ and showcase our wider portfolio. Ship management will always be BSM’s core, but we are seeking to add more complimentary services with both organic and acquisitive routes.”
Further investment in digital solutions and new technologies that improve performance by eliminating duplicative or time-consuming processes is high on the agenda of the Schulte Group CEO.
“Everyone is talking about digitalisation, as this is where the future is. We recognised this seven years ago by establishing and developing our own IT infrastructure with over 250 people now employed in software application development.
Today, we have a MariApps suite of solutions for both ship owning and management and we promote the software to third parties.”
“We believe we are ahead of our competitors in this area, but we must be able to anticipate the future and what will be needed in 5 to 10 years.”
BSM in collaboration with MariApps Marine Solutions, the technology arm of the Group, have several ongoing projects related to digitalisation, including IOT (internet of things) which is a precursor to unmanned ships.
“Whilst unmanned ships are some way off, there is a lot which can be done for example in collision avoidance systems and with fully automated bridge systems,” Ian said.
“We want new technologies to help our crews better operate vessels and strongly believe in the digital revolution, both for monitoring and collecting data and ensuring that ships under our management sail more safely and efficiently. Further, we do not confine this to just the ‘Big Data’ concept; we are constantly collecting and analysing information for practical purposes and applications,” he adds.
In parallel, Ian believes that effective use of information sharing technologies will further improve internal communication and knowledge sharing across the Group globally, with a beneficial impact on the ability to recruit and retain highly qualified employees.
“We are further developing our intranet, making better use of collaborative working sites and adopting new corporate communication tools. If both our customers and employees see that we are communicating well, it will certainly influence how they regard us,” he explains.
“A major ambition is to fill vacancies internally, which means nurturing our young people more and getting them to better understand our culture through our educational initiatives.
“We have very few female colleagues in senior positions and my goal is to encourage more women into these positions. Shipping is a male oriented business and I believe this must change.”
“Our LNG capabilities have been our focus for the last decade. There are great opportunities in management and on the owning side, where we have also invested. Our capability is strong and believe we are the leading manager in this field.”
The recently approved acquisition of PRONAV, a German operator with a strong reputation in the management of gas carriers, is a testament to the Schulte Group’s long-term commitment to the gas transport and gas supply sectors.
“We are seen as an LNG bunker provider and are now invited to participate in all the relevant tenders. We also wish to manage these gas supply vessels for other owners, which is a growth area for us.”
BSM has recently established a cruise business unit, Bernhard Schulte Cruise Services, which has already been awarded its first vessel under management.
Long term growth in the management of offshore supply and floating production vessels is another objective for the Schulte Group. Ian noted that growth in the offshore sector had been difficult since the onset of lower oil prices, but recent changes in the market’s economics have created new opportunities.
The Schulte Group is in discussion with various parties about creating partnerships. Ian believes the acquisition route is also a viable way towards further expansion.
In line with a long-held Company strategy of owning its own offices, BSM has purchased the ‘Bernhard Schulte House’, a building located in Singapore. BSM Singapore is the largest Ship Management Centre with almost 100 vessels under management.
“Singapore has been an important location for our ship management activities for many years and it has become a leading international maritime centre. While there is an issue of rising costs, we believe Singapore continues to be an excellent place for us to do business.”
With focus and determination, Ian is prepared to tackle the various challenges presented to him as the Schulte Group’s CEO in order to achieve the modernisation and growth of the Organisation.
“I feel privileged and honoured to have been chosen to lead this family-owned Group with over 130 years of shipping experience. There is a lot to do but, with the support of my colleagues and the shareholders, I feel confident that much can be achieved.”