Meet Ida Christine Brun, Senior Portfolio Manager at Maersk Growth, the corporate venture arm of A.P. Moller – Maersk.
As part of our series showcasing and celebrating diversity, inclusion and talent within shipping, Ida outlines her career so far, the huge experience she’s gained, and her view of a global, collaborative and constantly evolving maritime industry.
Watch out for further interviews as we work to support a push towards sustainable equality of treatment and opportunity for everyone within maritime.
If you’d like to nominate someone as a future interview subject please do get in touch!
What is your current position and how long have you had the role?
I work as a Senior Portfolio Manager in Maersk Growth. This is the Corporate Venture arm of Maersk, which invests in, and partners with, promising startups aiming to digitize, democratize and decarbonize supply chains.
How did you get involved in the maritime industry?
My career actually started with Maersk in 2011 in the shipping division. It was a project management role within a strategic IT project. To be honest, I was initially attracted to the opportunity due to the firm’s large, international operations, and the field I would be working with, not necessarily because I had pictured a career within shipping and logistics.
However, once onboard, I quickly realized the huge potential inherent in working with trade at a global scale, and how, in essence, it also touches upon all other industries.
Since that point I’ve worked in a variety of commercial and business development roles. These have spanned from process improvement in our Asia Regional logistics operations with Damco, Singapore, to tender and contract negotiations in the Middle East and North Sea with our previous energy business. I’ve also had responsibilities involving global performance management of SCM and 4PL service delivery to our customers.
Why do you believe people should consider a future within the maritime industry?
There is a growing realization and understanding of the profound impact the maritime industry really has, and the many lives it touches upon. Previously, most maritime companies operated with a B2B business model, meaning there were many end consumers who had little to no knowledge of the important role shipping had to play in everything; from trade, to energy, to end products we need and use on a daily basis.
If we look at shipping, logistics and supply chains specifically, consumers now have a greater awareness of how goods and products end up on their doorstep. Many have also experienced the consequences of supply chain disruptions.
So, I believe that increased awareness builds interest in maritime as a career path, while the possibilities of making a difference in such a key global industry are genuinely exciting. Shipping is crucial, and it needs the best people to prosper.
What key lessons have you learnt during your time in the industry? What advice would you give to others?
Whilst it may sound like a bit of a cliché, the key learning from my side is how “the only constant is change” and therefore the ability to adapt is critical in an evolving industry.
As an example, Maersk has undergone a massive strategic transformation in recent years, adapting from a company predominantly associated with shipping, to now being an integrated transport & logistics provider, with a strengthened products and services offering across the end-to-end supply chain. This has also resulted in a number of acquisitions, and the subsequent integration of these businesses. And Maersk is not alone in this transformation. So, that continual process of change requires the adaptability and resourcefulness to do what needs to be done, even if things do not go to plan. If you have those skills, you have an excellent foundation to build upon.
What do you think are the industry’s key strengths and weaknesses – how would you like to see it evolve?
If you wish to pursue a career in an international environment, with global operational reach, then I can think of no better route to take. I truly appreciate how it brings together colleagues and business partners from all corners of the world.
It is also refreshing how the industry truly challenges you to think about the impact companies can have in the larger scheme of things. Whether you work on improving end-to-end solutions for customers by optimizing routes, sourcing, transportation modes, or whether you try to rethink how we can decarbonize supply chains – you will ultimately be able to contribute to a change that has great impact, and will be felt by many. Personally, I’m very proud of working for a company taking the lead in finding a sustainable way forward for the industry.
In terms of weaknesses, I believe there’s been a tendency amongst many industry players to be too inward focused, meaning they’ve not been good enough at looking across industries or companies for developments, which they could have leveraged and learned from. So, going forward, I do hope and believe there will be more cross industry collaboration.
The same goes for greater collaboration between global established players, startups and scaleups. There are many ways in which we can partner to ensure there is more knowledge sharing and to push the boundaries of how we work, collaborate and really challenge the status quo.
It’s also no secret that the digital transformation has taken longer within shipping than in many other industries. This has been a weakness, but it is also a great opportunity, as we now see a huge influx of investments trying to make up for the insufficient focus and lagging developments.
What do you like best about a) your current role and b) the industry in general?
As part of the CVC of Maersk, I have the opportunity to work with the logistics and supply chain solutions of the future. Even if there are many exciting developments happening today, I really think the future is bright and that the best it yet to come. Especially in terms of how we can optimize operations and improve customer experiences.
At the moment, I’m really enjoying the unique opportunity of working for a large, well-established industry player and all the strategic strengths that it provides, while at the same time being able to partner with some really interesting and fast-growing startups. These have the ability to challenge the industry with completely new solutions, business models, and their energy and ambitions.
We are currently looking at so many interesting companies within everything from robotics, smart software solutions, to e-commerce platforms, offering essentially everything as a service (XaaS). So, I look forward to also seeing how this will all help shape the future of the industry.
When not working, I’m a passionate traveler – having already had the opportunity to experience over 110 countries and territories. So, a key strength of the industry is definitely the international working environment.
What are your personal ambitions within the industry?
Personally I think there are a wealth of interesting routes to take within the industry, but there are a few avenues I will continue to focus on. Firstly, developing strong relations and partnerships to strategically support the growth and success of others is something that really motivates me. So, in the short term I look forward to continuing doing exactly this for the portfolio of companies I manage.
Having been part of several strategic integration projects related to mergers and acquisitions made by Maersk, and now gaining experience with the investment process as a whole, I see this as an interesting field to continue to build on my expertise and learnings so far. I would also appreciate the opportunity to work directly with customers again, and ideally with management responsibility.
At the end of the day I aspire to a career path that drives continued learning: One where I will be able to make a real and positive impact on those I work with, whether it be customers, startups, or colleagues.