New Gateway to the Middle East

Written by the Online Editor on . Posted in In Focus

Mark Geilenkirchen, CEO of SOHAR Port and Freezone in Oman talks of recent and upcoming developments set to support its status as the new gateway to the Middle East.

CEO Insight: What is the vision for SOHAR Port and are you satisfied with progress to date on achieving stated objectives?

Mark Geilenkirchen: SOHAR is rapidly becoming a major industrial and logistics centre for the region, and the global market. In fact, given its ideal location at the entrance to one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, SOHAR Port and Freezone has developed as a crucial point for transhipment between the East and West. Our vision is to transform SOHAR into an important gateway for over 3.5 billion consumers in the wider region.

Oman’s progress with economic diversification, coupled with its geographical location, stable political climate and excellent infrastructure have all contributed towards the Sultanate’s growth within the regional logistics sector in recent years, with SOHAR at its core.

Timeless Classic

Written by Jamie Harrison on . Posted in In Focus

As part of our series on people behind the events we talk with Rosette Micallef Head of Marketing and Sales, at Mediterranean Conference Centre

CEO Insight: Can you tell us your journey and how you came to working at MCC

Rosette Micallef: When I joined the MCC a few decades ago (!) the MICE Market was still relatively new to Malta and therefore the organisational structure was completely different. Whether it was the organisation of a high profile conference or the purchase of pens, everything used to go through the then Managing Director and I was his Personal Assistant. Of course things have changed and evolved over the years and I worked my way up. I’ve been in the position of Head of Sales and Marketing since 2001. Incidentally I was being interviewed for the post while the 09/11 attack was taking place. As you all know, people were scared to travel for quite a while so the MICE Market suffered a lot during the ensuing years, which meant a huge challenge also for me at MCC. But we managed to overcome those challenges. Today we are pleased to say that the past 3 years have been the best ever for MCC. May I say that despite all these years, I still feel something really special about this place…. The architecture, the environment all around seem to transmit such a positive feeling.

Bridging the Gap

Written by Patricia Cullen on . Posted in In Focus

It’s all about diversity and inclusion in the corporate workplace in 2018. CEO Insight talks to Kristin Engvig, the founder of WIN, Women's International Networking, as she shares her vision on female empowerment and how best to align the gender gap.

CEO Insight: These are momentous times for women’s empowerment. Is this in some way connected with the anger around the Trump administration, which many had feared would see this progress slip?

Kristin Engvig: In some ways Trump has facilitated for this discourse to reach the masses, triggering something huge. People have been fighting for women’s rights, inclusion and diversity for decades, but since Trump, more and more people have started to react. Women are speaking up with the MeToo and TimesUp movements and they are back marching on the street. With this continuing momentum we have reached tipping point, and people are ready to listen. Women who kept quiet before because they felt unsafe are now reaching critical mass because of the current fears around losing more freedom. At WIN we advocate, instead of being against something, be for what you really want, and with gender being so prevalent in the media, now is the time to start making things happen. It is not always easy to change but we must help transform this dialogue into action.

Diversity & Inclusion

Written by Henry Martin on . Posted in In Focus

Seismic shifts around women’s empowerment are currently taking place in popular culture in spite - or could it be because - of the populist male-oriented and misogynistic political rhetoric emanating from some quarters. What needs to be done to make sure these beginnings of a gender revolution translate to the corporate sphere and that they are wholly inclusive and sustainable?

This is not just about being the ‘right thing to do’: the business case is wholly compelling too, with research suggesting that those companies with gender, ethnic and racial diversity are significantly more likely to experience above-average financial returns. For example, the impact of increasing female representation in the boardroom on ROI is profound.

Hamburg – Free Port of Innovative Ideas

Written by Henry Martin on . Posted in In Focus


Interview with Dr. Rolf Strittmatter Managing Director Hamburg Invest

When it comes to Hamburg’s international profile, the city has long been under the shadow of Germany’s capital, Berlin. And now, in 2017, the eyes of the world are suddenly on Hamburg. In January, the Elbphilharmonie, one of the world’s most spectacular concert halls, first opened its gates. In June, Hamburg superseded Berlin as Germany’s start-up capital, and in July, the world's most powerful political leaders gathered at the G20 summit in Hamburg to agree on the core principles for reshaping global trade.

Germany’s leading news magazine “Spiegel” has even featured Hamburg on their front page under the headline “The capital of Germany”. Further down the line, September will see the launch of the European XFEL project – a unique research facility based in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region.

As part of this project, eleven European countries have invested more than € 1.5 billion in an X-ray laser that will open up entirely new research opportunities for scientists and stakeholders from industry. CEO Insight spoke to Dr Rolf Strittmatter, the CEO of Hamburg Invest, about the “new” Hamburg and the perspective this trading hub in Northern Europe can offer to both investors and talent.

CEO Insight: Whenever Hamburg is mentioned abroad, people tend to think of a traditional merchant city, the Reeperbahn and the Beatles, and I suppose football fans from around the world empathise with the HSV. In short, Hamburg used to have the image of a city whose golden days were in the past. And now, in 2017, Hamburg is generating one positive headline after another. So what has happened here?

Rolf Strittmatter: First of all we are delighted that Hamburg is perceived as an attractive destination by so many tourists. Tourism is an important economic branch for us. And yet Hamburg is also Germany’s largest industrial centre and boasts an immensely rich cultural landscape.

And of course the Elbphilharmonie is hugely topical at the moment. However, all those interested in culture should certainly not confine their visit to the Elbphilharmonie alone. It is also worth noting that industrial products from Hamburg are well known across the globe – just think of Airbus.

In recent years, Hamburg has also been putting considerable effort into enhancing the city’s cultural and industrial infrastructure. And thanks to the support of local entrepreneur Klaus-Michael Kühne, the HSV football club is actually progressing.

CEO Insight: Obviously, all of this didn’t happen by chance. So what is the underlying plan?

Rolf Strittmatter: Well, the point about the merchant city is of course true. And merchants do get their numbers right. Economic success is rooted in a combination of product quality and marketing, and this also applies to cities. For one thing, Hamburg is really working hard at making the city’s infrastructure work.

Compared with mega cities such as London and Paris, this is really a strong point. In addition, Hamburg actively encourages exchange between science and industry. Good ideas alone won’t make a change – ideas need to be translated into products to generate innovations.

CEO Insight: And yet, when thinking of Hamburg, innovations aren’t the first thing to come to mind.

Rolf Strittmatter: Hamburg’s strength lies in diversity, and not all of the city’s fortes are rooted in public awareness in the same way. For instance, Montblanc writing utensils are not from Switzerland, but from Hamburg. And the city’s shipbuilders have been investing in aircraft construction ever since the 1930s, which ultimately led to the emergence of Airbus. Nivea products come from Hamburg, and so do Steinway pianos.

Hamburg is also at the forefront in the area of medical technology, with players such as Olympus and Philips. NXP Semiconductors has its head office in Hamburg. As a port city, Hamburg is being supplied with goods and ideas, and ideas are ultimately transformed into products. In short, Hamburg can be considered a free port of innovative ideas.

CEO Insight: This suggests that Hamburg has a favourable position in the competition of locations, and that the city’s economic development agency can comfortably reap the harvest from the seeds they have sown.

Rolf Strittmatter: I’m afraid it is not quite as simple as that. The Elbphilharmonie, the city’s leading position as a start-up hub, the G20 summit and the European XFEL project are certainly milestones. And yet they can only unfold their full impact if they are followed by many smaller steps too.

For example, we are currently developing several new R&I parks, we have been able to bring numerous research institutes to Hamburg, and we are in the process of further optimising start-up conditions. What is more, Hamburg is making great efforts in the area of housing construction. Rents have to be reasonable for us to attract new talent. When compared internationally, prices for both rental flats and commercial spaces are moderate in Hamburg, and this is certainly a major locational advantage.

CEO Insight: Thank you for your time, Mr Strittmatter.

Hamburg Invest was established more than 30 years ago as the HWF Business Development Corporation. It is the one-stop agency for investment in Hamburg.

Credits: © European XFEL, Heiner Mueller-Elsner G20 leaders in front of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg © Bundesregierung, Guido Bergmann Portrait Rolf Strittmatter

High Tech Therapies

Written by Henry Martin on . Posted in In Focus

Yves Decadt, Biolingus CEO, explains the innovative technology that takes injectable medicines and transforms them into pills

CEO Insight: Congratulations on making CEO Insights Most Influential companies list. What makes BioLingus so innovative and what sets it apart from its competitors? 

Yves Decadt: Macromolecules are biological molecules which are very sensitive to degradation in the body. As a result, all pharmaceutical products based on such molecules have to be injected. Examples are insulin, but also interferon and vaccines. And actually the most successful pharmaceutical products in the past 20 years are also such biological molecules.

Insights into the path of economic development in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Written by Jamie on . Posted in In Focus

Interview with Michael Sturm, Managing Director at Invest in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern GmbH (Invest in MV) Mecklenburg-Vorpommern provides a unique added-value proposition for companies that are planning to expand their business operations. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has a very established and reputable knowledge and skills base with both a solid research base and established clusters in advanced industry sectors.

How do you think that these factors influence potential investors looking into FDI locations?

Once investors start looking for new opportunities to expand their businesses, there are different drivers that lead the decision-making process. Some of these drivers are related to site advantages –direct access to global markets or to research and development for instance. Other drivers include possible openings within existing clusters. At Invest in MV, we are currently focusing our efforts on attracting more companies from the life science and machine-building industries. These sectors have a lot of potential in our state due to its tradition and its strong consolidation.

Shipping Innovation

Written by James Brown on . Posted in In Focus

CEO Insight spoke recently with Mark Geilenkirchen, Chief Executive at SOHAR Port and Freezone

SOHAR Port and Freezone is a deep sea port and free zone in the Middle East, located in the Sultanate of Oman, midway between Dubai and Muscat. With investments of over US$26 billion, it is one of the world's fastest growing port and free zone developments and is located at the crossroads of trade routes between Asia and Europe. With a draft of up to 25 metres, it is also the deepest port in the region. SOHAR provides easy access to the fast diversifying economies of the Gulf States and Iran, while avoiding the additional costs for shipping of passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Arabian Gulf.

Winning in Business

Written by Patricia Cullen on . Posted in In Focus

CEO Insight talks to Kristin Engvig, founder and president of WIN, about how we can obtain a more empathetic, global and sustainable vision to work by embracing the feminine; through respect, diversity and inclusion. Working in partnership with men and women, young and old, WIN integrates feminine values, connecting leaders and businesses across the globe, thus helping to transform our work-life balance.

New Dawn for Mining

Written by Henry Martin on . Posted in In Focus

CEO Insight looks at two of the most exciting stories around global mining and metals. Firstly, the spotlight is fixed on Greenland, which constitutes the epitome of opportunity for investors in the extractive sector. Thereafter, attentions are turned to the seabed mining sector which has the potential to revolutionise the whole industry.

Greenland's status as the world's pre-eminent resource prospect is such that it has the capacity to change the market for critical minerals, precious, base metals and iron alloys. It enjoys a strategic global location between North America and Europe and is naturally blessed with an abundance of mineral deposits such as iron, aluminium, uranium, copper, nickel, platinum, titanium tungsten and zinc, as well as oil.

Despite a seemingly inexorable trajectory towards full independence from Denmark, Greenland needs to find a way to financially stand on its own two feet for this to be a viable proposition. Fisheries, to date the main driver of the economy, does not pack the required punch on its own, and so the Greenland Government has thrown its weight behind a strategy to leverage its undisputed mineral wealth, which has been almost completely untapped to date.