Breakbulk NextGen – Carsten Wendt

General Manager, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean

Nominated by:
An executive for a leading engineering, procurement and construction company.

Reason for nomination:
“Long-time Rickmers-Line employee, and now with WWL. Insightful, innovative and collaborative with business partners.”

How you chose this industry:
During my studies I volunteered at the German seaman’s mission and spent a lot of time in the port talking to seafarers from all over the world. This truly led my way into ocean transportation. My first encounter with breakbulk and heavy-lift was during my diploma thesis with ABB Transformers, where I analyzed the shipping of large power transformers from various ABB factories. After this experience, I knew this is what I wanted to do for work.

Industry significance, from your perspective:
I really enjoy that our industry is still quite individual and unique and not commoditized like container transportation yet. Breakbulk is not only B2B, it also still runs in large parts on an “H2H,” or human-to-human, factor. Which means it is so much more important in our industry to genuinely trust your business partner.

A mentor or industry leader who greatly influenced you:
I would like to mention Ulrich Ulrichs, former CEO of Rickmers-Line, and now CEO with BBC. He inspired me with his sharp mind and his passion for the business. He not only had trust in my abilities as a young professional, but also empowered me and gave me the opportunity to grow. Also, with Wallenius Wilhelmsen, I am surrounded by great leaders who motivate me to further develop my professional and leadership skills.

Professional background:
I am an industrial engineer specializing in international transport management. I studied at one of the oldest maritime universities, Seefahrtsschule Elsfleth in Germany. This certainly had a huge impact on my career path. After graduating in 2007, I jumped straight into the breakbulk industry with Rickmers-Line in Hamburg. After a great seven years with them I moved on to a new challenge Wallenius Wilhelmsen in 2014. As senior manager sales Germany, my team and I are responsible for one of the biggest breakbulk markets for Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean.

Management style:
First of all, I see myself as part of the team. Success is a team effort, and a leader is always only as good as the team. Leading by example is certainly the most important mantra for me. I would never expect something from my team members that I wouldn’t do myself.

Long-term professional goals:
Our industry is traditionally conservative when it comes to technological innovations. For me it’s one of my priorities to play an active role in leading our industry into the next century of digitalization.

Your role as a developing industry leader:
I would like to continue the legacy of inspiring breakbulk personalities and create my own unique footprint.

Most important industry issue:
I see the implementation of IMO 2020 as from Jan. 1, 2020, as a huge challenge for the shipping industry in general and in particular for the breakbulk segment. This new rule increases the operational costs tremendously, and the challenge will be whether our customers are willing to fully absorb these costs.