In our special column, we are happy to host an interview with Mette Asmussen who is the Lead for Maritime Sector Initiatives at the World Economic Forum covering industry decarbonization for the shipping sector as part of the Center for Nature and Climate. Mette emphasizes the abundant opportunities that working with maritime decarbonization at the World Economic Forum presents. Particularly, it provides a platform for fostering unconventional partnerships and collaborations with the energy sector, consumers, and other industries, driving progress in climate action.
he also shares her personal motto that instills optimism and encourages us to disregard any guidance advocating solely for safe choices. Instead, she encourages us to recognize that the best decisions often lie in those that elicit discomfort or fear, even if they might not align with the popular consensus.
SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Mette Asmussen: I grew up sailing as a kid and in my teens and later studied Economics and International trade. The combination of those two I always had an eye to the shipping industry. I applied to join Maersk Liner Graduate Program and started in Copenhagen in 2014 followed by two years working in Shanghai from 2016-2018. I later worked for the Danish MFA as Maritime Advisor and now cover Maritime Sector Initiatives at the World Economic Forum. I was then and have since been lucky to get exposed to many different functions and sides of the shipping industry.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
M.A.: I really enjoy the results and impact you can create when collaborating across public and private sector. The World Economic Forum is a great platform for addressing some of the key challenges and I am particularly happy to work in an organization where there is lots of thought leadership and possibilities to connect the maritime sector with other hugely important topics or industries.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why?
M.A.: I had a manager very early on who hired me into a role on a topic that he probably knew that I did not know much about – but he hired me for my mindset and eagerness to learn this area of work and develop in the role. I have always carried that experience with me that sometimes the best fit for a role is the one who is most passionate and with a can-do attitude.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given and why?
M.A.: The best piece of advice I have ever been given would not necessarily apply well to everyone, but it has for me. It was from a manager 3-4 years into my career that advised me to pursue horizontal moves for as long as I could. I am very curious by nature, and it has been fantastic to learn many aspects of the shipping industry through both private and public sector roles. The worst advice was to always let my manager speak first, with no exceptions, in meetings.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
M.A.: Working internationally. I have worked two years in Shanghai as well as almost two years in Washington, D.C. and on my second year in Geneva. Working abroad and especially establishing in a new country and city is not always easy, but the experiences and friendships along the way, together with the work and career opportunities, have been invaluable and so much more than I would have ever thought my work life would give me.
S4S: If you could give a piece of advice to your 18-year-old-self one thing, what would it be and why? What piece of advice should you ignore?
M.A.: You will always land softly. It is often nerve-wrecking to move outside our comfort zones, but when you do and you realize it is not that bad then you get the reward in the form of new connections or new perspectives. I would ignore any advice about only making safe choices, sometimes the best decisions are the ones we feel most uncomfortable or scared about or which might not always be the popular choice.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
M.A.: Getting much more comfortable following my inner compass of values. It can be difficult especially when younger to stand up for what you believe to be right. However, I have realized throughout the years that though it might not always lead you on the easiest path it is so essential to be grounded in some core values and apply those whenever in doubt about a work life decision.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
M.A.: While there is great momentum around decarbonizing shipping it is a challenge beyond the traditional maritime sector stakeholders. I would like to see even more unconventional partnerships and collaboration with energy sector, consumers, and other industries to advance climate action. Moving from a linear fuel development reality to what will most likely be a multifuel future this is a system challenge and not just a progression from one state to the next, so it requires thinking out of the traditional maritime box.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
M.A.: The glass is always half-full and you can never give too many real life or virtual high fives.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.