For the past few months, we have been astounded by inspiring stories of heroism, dedication, and stellar sacrifice shown by medical frontliners all over the world in the fight against the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic. Like the patients under their care, many of them —from doctors to nurses— also started to succumb to the virus. We helplessly read or watch in the news about new reports of these selfless frontliners falling one by one like soldiers in the battlefield, slowly ebbing away.
Aside from these admirable people, there are other frontliners who also deserve to be acknowledged: the military and police who make sure that quarantines and lockdowns are being complied with, governmental staff who distribute relief goods to those affected by the previously mentioned emergency protocols, vehicular drivers who transport other frontliners, etc. These people virtually risk their lives against an unseen force in order to save others.
But then I realize that they are not the only frontliners in this terrifying age of pandemic. I think I can also say that, without blowing one’s own trumpet (just an honest-to-goodness realization), my colleagues and I in the container logistics industry are also frontliners. If our medical practitioners are considered as the first line of defense against the outbreak, I think it’s safe to say that we at Mærsk are leading the battle in keeping the global economy afloat.
During our company’s annual general meeting (virtually transmitted live from Copenhagen, Denmark last March 23 as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus pandemic), our Chairman of the Board of Directors had this to say:
“As the world’s largest container shipping company, we play a significant role in ensuring that there’s food on the shelves in the supermarket and medicines in the pharmacies. During this crisis where many things are closing down, it’s even more important that the global network of ports, roads, and other critical infrastructure remain open and well-functioning.”
–Jim Hagemann Snabe–
Thus we here at Mærsk have no lockdown. There is no “quarantine vacation” for us. Many of us still have to work from home not just to keep our business going but to keep the global economy running as smoothly as possible: our seafarers are still at sea delivering goods amidst the global health crisis; our crews can still be found at ports and terminals manning the loading and unloading of containers; our trucks, rail systems, and barges continue to operate so as not to impede the supply chain conveyor belt, and; our office workers (of which I am a part of) who are compelled to work from home due to lockdowns and quarantines still carry on with the usual documentation work and other related processes.
This is not to say that Mærsk is the only transport and logistics company that struggles in keeping the world economy safe from the throes of a recession, but it has to be acknowledged that, modesty aside, the company leads the industry’s twenty-foot equivalent unit capacity index (3,879,439) with a dominant market share of 15.3% (leading its nearest competitor by 3%). Snabe’s commentary during the virtual meeting was as perceptive as reality.
With numerous supply chains being disrupted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we at Mærsk cannot afford to treat our industry halfway — we have to do it All The Way in the midst of strict quarantines and lockdowns. We just had to. For the survival of humanity, we have our medical frontliners. And for the survival of global economy, we have Mærsk.