#117: Susana Elvira, VP, Global Head of Human Resources – Ocean and Logistics at A.P. Moller – Maersk

Susana Elvira is the Vice President and Global Head of Human Resources for Ocean and Logistics at AP Moller-Maersk. She is a great professional in the HR field and has been with Maersk for close to 20 years in many different roles across different geographies.

Listen to the full discussion here:

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Connect with the Guest:

Susana Elvira: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • Driving change and why it isn’t a straight line – sometimes 3 steps forward are followed by one step backward
  • Recruitment and how to attract the right people
  • What keeps people at Maersk
  • The power of being authentic and vulnerable
  • Susana’s own story around diversity and inclusion

Show notes:

  • [00:43] Let’s start a little bit with your career. There must be a good reason why you stayed with the same company for 20 years. So maybe give us a two minute summary of your career with them?
  • [2:00] Let’s also talk a little bit about Maersk. I think the company has a very clear strategy to become one of the leading end-to-end supply chain service providers in the world. I’d like to ask you from an HR perspective on how do you support that and how do you enable that transformation?
  • [03:31] Technology is one of the major shifts that is happening for us. The biggest differentiator is the possibility to amplify technology or to power up technology through a shift towards more humanism. So we realize that in this transformation, we are going to have to redefine the relationships with our customers and we’re going to have to redefine the relationships internally. 
  • [7:47] We’re only at the beginning of the journey, that is still a long way to go. But I think those two shifts and that trend towards being more human and being more comfortable with being a human has been at the core of the changes. It is transformation.
  • [8:40] How was the beginning of your journey? Are there certain things that you saw, or you experienced that work better to almost reinforce those behaviours of a leader or how do you even set the examples that okay, this is what good looks like?
  • [11:07] I would say in a transformation, the critical element is consistency. You can’t say one thing and act in a different way or you can’t be volatile where today we’re doing this and tomorrow we do that.
  • [16:33] Don’t aim to be perfect tomorrow because it’s not going to happen. As long as you keep going in the right direction and you keep being curious about it, that’s okay. Just keep going. 
  • [17:20] How do you recruit new talent? I know that Maersk has a super culture in terms of very clear values that drive the organization. In this transformation, you also need to get an infusion of new talent. What are your criteria?
  • [18:38] We do need a particular set of knowledge and skills, but we need people who actually are aware, that is not about their own success, it is actually about the success of a team and ultimately, it is about creating value for the customer.
  • [20:24] Supply chain is a competitive market, how do you keep your talent? How do you also retain the key people in the company?
  • [21:09] I think there’s something about it that makes people feel welcome when they come. Once they go through the first moments of fighting bureaucracy and some of the legacy problems we have in Maersk, they say it’s not a bad place to be.
  • [22:05] I know that Maersk has implemented certain initiatives and has many different good ways in which you make sure that people are comfortable and that they are taken care of in this time of the pandemic. Maybe share with us some examples of practical things that you did.
  • [24:09] I think the focus has always been making sure our colleagues are physically safe, making sure that they have access to tools to handle the stress of our mental health and then keeping access to information to make sure that they could actually know what was happening.
  • [24:54] Do you have any policies around diversity in top management or gender inclusion in top management?
  • [26:18] Our focus right now is on equitable career progress and actually making sure that we create workspaces where people can thrive because of who they are and it’s not only gender but also we use a magnifier in our talent pipeline and make sure that we stay very close to the progress of our women and other underrepresented populations.
  • [26:51] As a woman yourself, are there any examples of things that you saw work better than others?
  • [27:50] I actually do think that it makes the difference that you actually know that your voice is worth being heard as much as any other voice around the room. So don’t let other people provide value to who you are and your worth and your voice. Your voice is worth it. 
  • [29:21] Tell us what are some of the key things that you love about being in HR?
  • [29:45] Imagine if your work is about creating spaces where people can feel valued, treated with dignity, and be excited to do more, grow more, and learn more. That’s what HR is and that is why I have stayed in HR for so long.
  • [31:01] I also want to ask you, for the younger generation, if you may, or people that are now entering the workforce, what would be one or two pieces of advice from your career that you would share that were the most helpful to you?
  • [31:18] Use your voice and speak up. You have the knowledge, the passion and the right to do it and if you are in the room it is because they want to hear you. And the other one is to listen, be curious, and remain very attentive to everything that is happening around you. 

Related Episodes:

#114: Susan Johnson, EVP Global Connections and Supply Chain at AT&T

#115: Tonya Jackson SSVP and Chief Product Delivery Officer of Lexmark

#116: Asger Lauritsen, Group Executive Management and CPO Supply Chain & Manufacturing at FLSmidth

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