To put a face to a name and your mind to ease regarding the nagging question of what does a technical superintendent's job and the dynamics of a ship management company entail, we shall - in cooperation with Kasak Solutions OÜ - start to unveil it, topic by topic, pinpointed by our Technical Superintendents. We shall post an article in an approximately two-week interval, so please feel free to return for an educational and possibly entertaining read.
As a ship is as good - and functional - as it's Captain, we shall start with introducing our Managing Director Margus Raad.
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Margus Raad is the Managing Director at Tschudi Ship Management AS, owned by a Norwegian-based shipping company, that provides vessel management services. Growing up in Saaremaa, it is not surprising that he had an affinity for the sea. Being the son of a fisherman, Margus developed an early interest in the maritime industry and pursued his education accordingly, studying maritime classes in Orissaare Gymnasium and later attending the Estonian Maritime Academy. „I always wanted to work as a mate, so I decided to focus my studies on becoming a deck officer. I have to say, sealife is not suited for everybody. You have to know what You are getting yourself into, so it is useful to get experience working at sea before You make a decision.“ Luckily he did just that, spending summers on seagoing internships onboard different vessels, solidifying what he already knew in his heart.
After completing his studies in the academy, Margus spent four years at sea working on chemical and product tankers before transitioning to a job onshore. This shift from working on a vessel to a job onshore was a big adjustment for him, especially because it was exactly at that point when he stood face to face with two job offers. His choices were either to become a chief officer at sea or become a safety and quality coordinator onshore. „Working as a seafarer offers a unique work/life balance, with long periods of working away followed by extended periods of time off. However, it's important to note that it can also be very challenging and stressful. I had to work in a high-pressure environment where safety is paramount, and the work can be physically demanding and mentally exhausting. Back at the beginning of the 90s, it was virtually impossible and very expensive to stay in contact with people back home, which was emotionally difficult. I decided to try life onshore,“ Margus admits. He soon realized that tankers were much more regulated and organized than the vessels he now had to work with. The new position had a lot to do with the International Safety Management Code (ISM), which is a set of international regulations to ensure the safe operation of ships and prevent marine pollution. This meant that he was in charge of establishing and maintaining an effective safety management system for the vessels. „It took a few years to completely understand where I was and what I was doing,“ Margus jokingly adds. By overcoming all the obstacles that were thrown at him, proving once more he could swim not sink, meant his efforts did not go unnoticed. His next position became the operations manager, but a storm was slowly brewing in the background.
In 2012 the company had a change in management, which inevitably led to changes within the different subsidiaries. Margus had maintained a relationship built on trust with his former superiors and when the chips fell, he was asked to take on the role of managing director. „The management of the organization approached me and asked me to take up a temporary position for 2 months. I said yes. I didn't know what I was getting myself into, I didn't have a formal education in business management. I was on a specialist level and hadn't been very long as an operations manager but I thought, well, let's try,“ he explains with a charge of optimism in his voice.
At that point, they were tasked with finding new vessels for Tschudi, since the old ones had been sold off. „All we had was our good name. It was mostly about selling trust. We had no choice but to keep moving and so we did.“
It takes a lot of perseverance to face struggles and still manage to put in the effort day in, and day out. Margus says that his line of work has always intrigued him and also guaranteed that there would never be a dull moment. His belief in the company and its shared mission has kept him going and is still motivating to this day. There is no doubt that the service they provide is of top quality. „We have the capacity and expertise to expand the company.“
As a leader, Margus believes in giving his expert team space to operate their everyday tasks. There is no strict hierarchy but everyone is expected to deliver. Trust needs to be earned and respect is a two-way street. After having a conversation with the superintendents, it is very clear that they are a tight-knit group of professionals, always willing to lend a helping hand to a team member in need. „Our work culture is very supportive and I am proud of that.“
So what does the future look like for Tschudi Ship Management AS?
Margus and his amazing team are on their way to reaching the 25-30 vessel level. They are also unique in the sense of being one of the few companies able to manage offshore windfarm support vessels. Margus hopes that they can narrow down the vessel types they work with so that the team can really specialize and raise the quality even more. „We have a very good understanding of offshore windfarms. Probably know a lot more than most. The vessels are highly sensitive and very expensive, they have to be operated in a certain way, otherwise, it's a lot of money going to waste,“ he explains. There are definitely big plans in the works and the team is looking to be expanded but what about life outside of work?
„At this stage in my life, career is important but family is everything. I have worked hard to get where I am and with that experience came the understanding that you can work 24h a day and still not get everything done, so might as well take time for yourself sometimes.“ Wiser words have never been spoken.