“We win and we lose as a team…”

The Executive Board of MAN ES has appointed Brian Østergaard SØrensen as Vice President, Head of Research & Development, 2-Stroke Engines

45-year-old Brian Østergaard SØrensen took over his new role from interims head of technical department Mikael Jensen who continues his assignment as Vice President, Head of Engineering, 2-Stroke Business. .

Before joining MAN Energy Solutions in 2019 as Vice President, Head of Research & Development, 2-Stroke Engines SØrensen worked, among others, for the classification society Lloyds Register and later for A.P. Møller-Maersk. But that’s not all: Originally he was a seafarer with a Master Mariner degree. Very soon, when staying on the bridge, he realized this can’t be all: “I wanted to know what’s going on deep down in the ship’s belly. So I started to study mechanical engineering at the Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU). And also here I finished with a degree. During that time I also worked as a part time teacher for thermo dynamics at the DTU. As a matter of fact: the two skills acquired do help me now in my current position”.

About Brian Østergaard SØrensen:

SØrensen was born in the western part of Danmark, in the city of Esbjerg. He lives now with his family (wife and three kids) in the north of Copenhagen. To stay in shape, Brian likes running in the early morning – almost three times a week. In addition to this he likes, whenever his time allows it, to play with his kids. He is a fan of listening to audio books during his ride from home to the office and return.

Eight questions for Brian Østergaard SØrensen:

Brian Østergaard Sørensen
MAN Energy Solutions Brian Østergaard Sørensen

1. Why did you decide to take over this position?

I felt honored when a company like MAN asked me to work for them. MAN has a very strong heritage and I like the strong technical competence within the company. From a market share point of view MAN has designed over 50% of installed engines of the global shipping fleet and with this we have a very strong impact on taking part of the engines emissions. Very few positions give you that opportunity. So, for me it was clear ‘yes’ when I have been asked to take over this position. There are a lot of interesting opportunities and challenges for me.

2. Where did you find the motivation for your work?

I find the motivation in the work I do, that I can see we make a difference every day, I find the motivations in my colleagues that we work together as a team and we actually make things happen. I can see that we can make a global impact on climate. I think that motivates me a lot.

3. Which life experience has had the greatest influence for the work you are doing now?

Before Brain answers, he takes a sip of coffee out of his cup:

When I received your questions actually I thought it was a difficult one, but there have been different life experiences to make the person that I’m being today. Getting a family, getting kids is a life changing experience and means putting things into perspective. For me that has been one of the big changing things. I remember the time when I was as a 23 year-old in command of a commercial vessel – it was in the beginning some kind of terrifying but to see that I, Brian, can manage it, that I’m able to do it in a good way, in structured way and also get things to work people together – that was a fantastic moment. Experience and knowledge needs to be coupled together – we need to make sure that we take our experience and our knowledge as the foundation of what we look into. But it should not hinder us from trying something on traditionally – so I think we always need to go back and pressure test our ideas. And that for me is where experience and knowledge comes in.

4. What do you consider as your greatest achievement?

Some of my greatest achievement is when I look at some of my previous colleagues and how they have actually managed their careers and see a number of them are now at a director level, I hope that I have a little impact and a little inspiration for them they went. So, I think the development I participate with them is probably the biggest achievement I have done.

5. Which personality would you like to meet one day?

There are actually a few I would like to meet: One of the persons I would like to meet and would be very interesting is Elon Reeve Musk for example who is the founder of Tesla. I think he has broken boundaries and barriers and done things where people thought it can’t be done. Well, you always can ask how successful Tesla as a company has done – but he has made an impact and he believed in the idea and that is for me extremely inspiring.

6. Which occurrence / incident has particularly impressed you the most?

I think that is difficult to say but I was working with A.P. Möller-Maersk when the cyber-attack happened and I actually saw how a company, an IT-structure can be, what a company can do to overcome such an unfortunate incident and at the end the company came out stronger. That for me was really an interesting experience. And another incident was when I was sailing we had a very serious accident on board and that changed my whole philosophy and approach to safety and so on which means that we need to take care on each other and make sure that we are always safe. And all this has formed me as the person I am now. I want to take responsibility as the leader of the team and motivate them to help each other – I always say: we win and we lose as a team – that’s how it is! I want to empower people to take their own decisions.

7. Which business idea / concept would you like to realize (if you would have access to an unlimited budget)?

I think that the path we, MAN ES, have embarked on around carbon neutral shipping that will be a game changer. I would like to take it even further if we think about carbon neutral shipping providing carbon neutral propulsion power that is online and we are able to monitor it almost in real time – that is what we say a guiding star and this is our, MAN’s, strategy to be part of decarbonisation of the shipping industry. And with our large engines we have the right product which will be also in the future part of the global shipping. At the end of the day it’s a matter of the burned fuel. In fact we can burn almost every kind of fuel – but it still needs some kind of development.

8. Where do you see the greatest challenges for your industry?

The shipping industry is a heavy asset driven industry where asset has a long lifetime and that also means has certain inertia within the shipping industry and also certain conservatism – so I think the challenges are the new technologies we are developing today can be implemented on new buildings relatively easy. But the point is how do we make it available, how do we address the thousands of ships already sailing and finance it. Well, those are some of the challenges we face from now onwards.

Brian, thank you very much for talking