Everyone must know their role

By Ole Brandt

Martin Rune Pedersen is Managing Director of Maersk Oil Denmark and we were talking to him about how he tries to get the best out of his team in his daily work and his dealings with his employees. And he continued:

“First and foremost it is important to recognise that you are member of a team. There is very little anyone can accomplish by oneself in our complex business. Thus, bringing the team together, having a shared view of where we want to go and what we want to achieve and being able to articulate this, getting the whole organisation mobilised to move in that direction is what I try to accomplish. There is no point in my running in front of my team pulling ahead if the rest of the team and the organisation are not in step.”

Can you give us give us a concrete example, we asked, and without hesitation he said:

“When I go offshore and see the passion shown by the guys who really want to work incident free – taking initiatives and intervening with their colleagues, for me that is the best example. And when I talk to my leadership team and they discuss the challenges of the next steps in an installation; and I go to the coffee shop and hear the guys on the deck having the same discussion; then I know that the same attitudes are cascading through the business. And that is really important. What I am trying to accomplish is that we’re all working in the same direction – especially with safety. We have a great passion for safety, we put a lot of effort into empowering our front guys, addressing what is okay and what is not okay – put your hand up and say stop to the job if it is not okay.”

Live your values

What personal leadership principles guide you in your role as leader?

“Living the values. The values that I stand for as an individual and our company values are very similar, so for me it is about behaving in an upright manner with authenticity. That is important, if you want to motivate and lead people. To this, add passion – that you know what you want to do and that you really believe in it. That passion is a self-motivator, and if you are motivated and passionate about what you do, it reflects on your team.

Thus, my guiding principles are: Be authentic, have a clear vision, have clear ambitions of what you would like to achieve and articulate those elements clearly.”

What does it take to create real employee engagement in a safety improvement process? 

“It takes commitment from the entire organisation. Safety is for everyone. There is no hierarchy, when we talk about safety we are all equal and have the same intervention rights. To me a top-down programme would never survive, it has to be with equal buy[-in?] – and with a passion across the business. Let me give you an example: we have an annual safety conference in Maersk Oil where all the safety teams and groups from all the different installations gather. And when I see the passion that is being put in by the guys out there I think that is hugely motivational.”

Be humble

Have you picked up some valuable learning points from your colleagues/competitors in the industry and if so, what are they?

“Yes absolutely, I’m always on the lookout for good learning points and I think that it an ability we all have to constantly improve. You can advance by being inspired by others – benchmarking etc., but also by being humble about what you know and what you don’t know. I often get inspired when I visit new places. Recently I visited PDO (Petroleum Development Oman) in Oman, they are really far down the road of continuous improvements and visualising performance. I found that really inspiring and brought home new thoughts and ideas.”

What does “working together,” mean to you?

“In our business no one can work alone. I think it is important that we – as an industry – share our learnings, especially about safety. We are actively engaged with our supply chain and contracting companies to share the knowledge and experience that we have and also listening closely to what they bring to the table. We have been very focused especially within our construction teams on addressing how we can work better together to have safer operations for our people.”


Martin Rune 2

Open to challenge

What do you think (increased) collaboration in the industry could generate within the field of safety?

“First and foremost we can inspire each other and look for best practice across the industry. I think there are great opportunities in collaborating. Different operators often use the same supply chain giving us learning and sharing opportunities. Also we have a big opportunity especially in these challenging times with the low oil price in being open in terms of working together and to challenge each other. It is important that we in our role as operator are open to being challenged by our suppliers who are very often much closer to some of the real work and some of the expert work in their area of expertise, to see and generate ideas of how we can do things faster and more efficient. It is really about having an open mind.”

What’s to be gained?

“A safer working environment for our people and to me that means fewer people on my installations getting hurt. Process safety is hugely important, but it is also quite challenging: platforms and assets are getting older and have integrity challenges which we are focusing on, but we can utilise new technology and new ways of working from the supply chains. And everyone stands to gain.”

Work smarter

Could collaboration help to reveal vulnerabilities and show opportunities for improvement of safety?

“Yes. When we have a stable operation we have a safer operation – they go hand in hand. I think this goes for both safety and for running a smooth operation.

We must be open also to challenge and new ways of working coming from the people working within specific areas. The best initiatives often come from the guys at the front who finds new and smarter ways of doing things and in doing so improves safety. If you can simplify you can often have a much safer operation and at the same time help to streamline business and hence drive efficiencies,” says Pedersen, adding: “I think it is very encouraging to see the work that is going on with Task Force Zero and the Safety Conference which is actually bringing together the industry focusing on how we drive the safety agenda forward.”