Nordic-Sino shipping: The best of both

22 October 2014

Over 170 experts from the Norwegian and Chinese maritime industry joined together in Shanghai last week for a seminar held by BI Norwegian Business School together with Fudan University School of Management and Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA.

The seminar on Nordic-Sino perspectives on the Chinese shipbuilding industry was an extension of the BI-Fudan MBA programme and the long-standing partnership between the two schools. Norway is renowned for its innovative technology in the global maritime industry and China is now the largest shipbuilding nation, having surpassed South Korea in 2013. The joint force of the two nations allows them to set the sail towards producing the most efficient shipbuilding processes of the highest quality in the world.

The rapid speed at which the industry is accelerating means that there is a high demand for modernisation and collaboration. Chinese and Norwegian experts from the field provided different perspectives on how to overcome the resulting future challenges and possibilities at the seminar. Vidar Eikrem, Head of Global Sales Network in Ulstein, believes that the ongoing partnership between the two nations is the key.

- There is a great need for high-tech maritime competence in China, and Norway is one amongst many who can compete in delivering this kind of technology, he said.

Not without difficulties

Moving large scale productions to meet increasingly high demands is not without its challenges, as Lou Jiwei, Senior Assistant to CEO from Sino Pacific shipbuilding Group, pointed out.

- Shipbuilding is a new industry in China operating in a very international and conservative market. Even if we are learning very quickly, Chinese yards must follow a learning curve in order to found a commercial base for innovation and quality improvement.

Overcapacity is an imminent hurdle that will need to be faced by all parties involved in China’s shipbuilding market. Djeni Rolana, BI lecturer and International Shipping Consultant, believes that it’s a problem many of China’s shipping firms won’t be able to overcome.

- China is presently number one in the world in quantity, but after the crash in the maritime industry in 2008, they are constantly forced to modernise, reorganise and change. Within 2-4 years, I believe half of today’s shipyards in China will be gone or be absorbed by the big ones.

Education and experience: The best of both

The strengths of China and Norway paves the way for co-operation with great potential in the shipbuilding industry. Among the cultural challenges and success stories is the need for executive education. Djeni Rolana and Yilie Shen, Area Director of Wilh. Wilhelmsen in China, both stated that specialised education on how to lead the ship building business will be of crucial importance for China’s modern maritime business.

- How to lead risk management and encourage innovation are important in all businesses, but at this time it is especially crucial for the maritime businesses, as it is so international and competitive, said Djeni Rolana.

At the time of the seminar also came the news that the BI-Fudan MBA Programme has been ranked 55th in the world by the Financial Times, based partly on students’ career development and salary increase.

- The BI Norwegian School and Fudan University MBA program has been in China for 18 years and is a wonderful example of collaboration and innovation between two nations.  I am proud to represent BI Norwegian Business School when I see that we are so relevant and can create a professional meeting place for the maritime business in China, said Inge Jan Henjesand, President of BI, who joined the seminar in Shanghai.

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