Having started with CBS in September 2021, Lars Hoffmann, Vice President BU and Head of Business Unit Mediterranean at DFDS, reflects on the first few weeks of the Blue MBA. And with over 30 years in the industry, he explains why continued learning is so important, especially in a time of industry transformation.  

An expansive career in shipping and logistics

“I’ve been in logistics all my life. Over 30 years, I’ve worked for a variety of logistics businesses across a range of sectors. Most recently, I’ve spent the last six years with the international shipping and logistics company DFDS in multiple locations, currently Istanbul, Turkey. I’ve always been involved in moving cargo of some kind.

“I always regretted that I didn’t follow the academic route into business. I have the typical business background of working up the ladder, starting from a traineeship. Being able to take the time to study the industry at a holistic level was still something I wanted to do.”

Always learning

“At every stage of your career, you need to work on your skillset in order to go to the next level. Personally, I am also always looking to improve and continue my professional development. Joining the Blue MBA is about combining my professional interest in shipping and logistics with skills in leadership and the academic approach.

“Whenever I’ve been in an environment with professionals from other nations, I have always learned something new. It’s a big part of why I joined an internationally recognised MBA programme. There are classmates from companies that I had never heard of before. It’s definitely a great aspect of it.

“If you get to the point where you think that nobody can teach you anything, then it’s time to stop. There’s always more to learn.”

A dedicated MBA for a unique industry

“I’d been intending to do an MBA for the last five or so years but there was never a period when I felt I could dedicate the time to it. Being away from my family meant that when the pandemic hit, they were unable to move out to Istanbul too. I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time, so I started looking into MBA programmes.

“The standard MBAs didn’t really catch my attention. If you going to spend two years on a programme alongside your job, you really have to be motivated. I reviewed a number of MBA programmes and then discovered the Blue MBA. Irene Rosberg, the Programme Director, is extremely motivated and passionate about the industry.

“There is a mentality switch when it comes to writing a paper for the programme. This can be a challenge if you are not from an academic background but there are coaches who are appointed to you. The lecturers are also always on hand and have been very supportive.”

A sustainable future

“Generally speaking, we are a very conservative people in the shipping and logistics industry and believe that how we operate is the best way of going about things. Many of us are just doing what we have always done and it’s vital to widen our perspective.

“I would say that we are reluctant, not to learn but some parts of the business are reluctant to see if there are ways to do it better. The urgent need for a sustainable focus and greener solutions will ultimately force our hands. It’s better to be proactive and on the front foot with this kind of industry transformation.

“I’d like to be a part of transformation. Bring innovation and new ways of thinking for a long-term solution in to DFDS. Do the analytics behind it. Review our strategy in certain areas. We all must do better every day.

“It’s been a good first week with a lot of knowledge to take in. I was impressed with the two days of leadership skills and am now looking forward to the rest of the journey.”