Torben Carlsen speaks – 8 January vlog

Listen to Torben’s update from 8 January 2021 where he talks about:

  • Brexit: Overall our preparations paid off but still many problems, and colleagues have had to work day and night
  • Our new route Rosslare – Dunkerque has been very well received
  • Delivery of our sixth and last mega freight ferry Scandia Seaways
  • Looking into 2021

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Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 37

Listen to Torben’s update from 30 December where he talks about:

– The Brexit deal between the UK and the EU

– The fantastic work performed by our collegues working at the Channel during the holidays

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Ahrenkiel takes stock of 2020 

A year into her job as the Chief People Officer, Anne-Christine takes stock of 2020. More focus on HR as a business partner, boosting employees’ possibilities to train and grow and making crewing a global function are a few of the key developments in HR this year.

It’s been a tumultuous year for everyoneThis year has been all about adapting to the consequences of the pandemic while getting vital systems and structures in place that will help ensure that DFDS continues to be a great place to work and grow,” says Chief People Officer Anne-Christine Ahrenkiel.  

Here are a few of the People Division’s key developments in 2020: 


The People Division steps up as a Business Partner 

In many places, our HR colleagues have moved a lot closer to the business this year, for instance through collaboration on how to adapt the entire workforce to the Covid-19 situation, Anne-Christine says. HR people are increasingly part of management teams and can weigh in on and influence decisions in a more formalised way than they could before. This makes sense because when it comes down to it, we’re first and foremost a people-driven business. We focus a lot on our operational assets, but we can’t move goods or passengers without our people making it happen. With HR as a business partner, we can help ensure that we take the right people decisions, short- and longer term.” 


More focus on learning and development  

“We always need to keep developing because it’s the best for DFDS and for the individual employee,” Anne-Christine says. “Besides the obvious advantages of having a competent workforce, we also have a responsibility for our employees’ employability: we need to provide an environment that allows and motivates people to use and develop their skills to the greatest extend possible – because ultimately, these skills are people’s best guarantee for a great life-long career. This environment should be provided by three parties: by each of our employees, by our leaders and by our Learning & Development department. I am therefore happy to have recently appointed Jesper Randlev Nielsen as our new Head of Learning and Development, to help set up the necessary structures and training programmes that can help us all grow.” 


Crewing went global 

Different countries and business areas used to manage HR for sea-based employees. Now it’s handled by one organisationheaded by Gemma Griffin. “Thnew Global Crewing function means that we aim at having a more uniform approach to all our seafarers: it should always be clear what they can expect from us as an employer, just like it should always be clear what we would expect from them as employees. The new structure brings all the crewing functions together and helps us maximise our strengths and collective knowledge, and use scale advantages across geographies,” Anne-Christine says. 


Better resource overview and planning with data 

“We’ve implemented a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system this year, to limit manual processes and get a better overview of our workforce. The system makes it easier for new colleagues to get to know DFDS, because they’ll be able to press a button and see exactly how many we are, where we are and who reports to whom. My hope is that a digital system like this will also eventually make it easier for colleagues to say yes to managerial responsibility, as it reduces the paperwork and bureaucracy that typically comes with the task of managing people.  

I’ve been at DFDS for just over a year now, and I’m amazed at how able, willing and ready our colleagues are to provide solutions to the many challenges we face,” Anne-Christine says. “Our culture is defined by our healthy, respectful and pragmatic approach and a genuine wish to make things work. This has been vital to usto get through this year. At one point, almost 2800 of our 8500 employees were furloughed or off work, and our HR colleagues were focusing only on helping our colleagues and the business getting through this, whilst staying safe and healthy. I’m proud of every single person at DFDS – leader or individual contributor – for their efforts during this year. For me, DFDS is a great place to work and my goal for 2021 is to help make it even better.”   

Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 36

Listen to Torben’s update from 11 December where he talks about:

  • DFDS celebrates its 154 birthday today
  • Brexit getting very close
  • Horizon talents have now completed the program

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Torben Carlsen at International Investment Summit

Torben Carlsen is a panelist at the virtual YASED International Investment Summit on 8 December from 15:10 to 16:10 CET.  Together with the rest of the panel, he will talk about global supply chians.

The aim of this summit is to collectively unite the international investment community and discuss the changing outlook for the future of investment. The entire event will take place between 7-11 December.

YASED International Inverstors Association is a non-governmental organisation representing companies in Turkey. They want to improve the efficiency and profitability of international companies in Turkey and attract investors to the country by contributing to the improvement of the business and investment environment. It is now 40 years since the organisation’s establishment, and this is acknowledged with this large international investment summit.

If you’d like to Torben and the other speakers at the online summit please fill out the contact form at the bottom on their website or simply send an email to

Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 35

Listen to Torben’s update from 4 December where he talks about:

  • Still strong freight volumes
  • Brexit is getting closer and our colleagues working with customs are very busy
  • Covid-19 develops badly
  • Only for DFDS employees: Try your luck in the very challenging Advent Calendar game

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Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 34

Listen to Torben’s update from 27 November where he talks about:

  • The very sad news that two of our colleagues have passed away
  • DFDS establishes a new route between Rosslare in Ireland and Dunkirk in France
  • The new project with a zero emission Oslo-Frederikshavn-Copenhagen ferry
  • The prolonged cooperation with Danish and German militaries
  • Extraordinary number of lane metres achieved last week
  • That we must all be very aware of phishing attacks

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150 years in 45 minutes

CEO Torben Carlsen recently guested the Danish business podcast ‘Millionærklubben’.

Hear his reflections on how DFDS has navigated through 150 years of ups and downs, what drives us as a company, our handling of Brexit and Covid-19 and what steering DFDS through challenging times requires:

Go to podcast (in Danish)

Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 33

Listen to Torben’s update from 20 November where he talks about:

  • Brexit: This week’s successful testing of systems and the webinar with more than 400 participants
  • Blogs on the Bridge
  • The 6th Jinling newbuilding going on sea trial on 15 December
  • Covid-19 vaccines giving us hope for next year

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Q3 results: Better than originally expected

We just published DFDS results for the third quarter.

Operating profit was DKK 846 million, which is DKK 349 million less than last year’s third quarter operating profit. The reduction is mainly due to our passenger business being severely hit by COVID-19 travel restrictions. However, the result is better than originally expected, as the freight businesses of both Ferry and Logistics were above last year’s Q3 results.

Torben says: “Our freight network is as expected proving to be very resilient. We continue to adapt operations to market changes and Brexit. I am pleased to see that all the hard work of our people has helped position us well for the future.”

Link to Q3 announcement.

Diversity has changed the EMT

A diverse company is a solid company, and we aim to have at least 30% female colleagues in DFDS by 2023. The issue of diversity and inclusion was high on the agenda at this year’s Management Conference and the result was both concrete initiatives to increase the share of women as well as pledges from the EMT on how they will contribute to making DFDS even more diverse. Here’s what they say.

“A diverse company is a solid company, but we have a way to go when it comes to gender. Right now, we are about 25% women – considerably more on land than at sea. We are working to achieve our target of 30% females in DFDS by 2023 and the EMT is living up to this commitment already. I commit to keeping this a high priority and keeping managers responsible not just for gender diversity but also for inclusive behaviour in a broader sense,” says CEO Torben Carlsen.


We don’t want to miss out

At this year’s Management Conference, managers from all over the company came up with concrete ways of boosting the share of women among us. “They stressed that this is not something that is nice to do, it is something that will attract talent, improve team dynamics and help us make stronger decisions. If we are all the same, we will find it hard to understand the needs of people – customers – that are different to us, and we will miss out on perspectives that could ultimately help strengthen and grow our business and culture,” says CSR Director Sofie Hebeltoft.

“Our managers welcomed the focus on Diversity & Inclusion and provided a range of practical suggestions on how to reach the 30% target. Our Vice Presidents have given personal commitments and are working on realising these. In the People Division, we are partnering with our colleagues across DFDS to help them implement their ideas and suggestions,” says Chief People Officer Anne-Christine Ahrenkiel.


Diversity is more than gender

“I have experienced how diversity has changed the dynamics of the Executive Management Team,” says EVP for the Ferry Division Peder Gellert. “And with diversity, I don’t just mean women. We have of course gone from being all men, all white, all similar ages, to now being four men and two women, but that’s not the only thing that has changed. Diversity is more than gender. It’s also backgrounds – Rune, Karina and Anne-Christine all come from other industries than shipping and transport. That brings different angles and experiences into our discussions and helps us see things differently,” he says.

“Niklas, Torben and I have all worked in this industry for more than ten years and tend to see things in the same light. Often when we discuss more strategic subjects – where is the business going, what should we do – the ‘newcomers’ to the EMT can bring in examples from how they worked or something they tried in their previous workplaces. This helps frame the situation in another way and makes us see new opportunities. I am committed to making Diversity & Inclusion a priority in the Ferry Division and intend to work actively with my reports on projects that serve this agenda.”


Where are the female developers?

In Technology & Innovation, Chief Technology Officer Rune Keldsen finds recruiting female candidates within the areas of Development, Architecture and Operations a challenge. “The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to where the biggest potential for improvement is,” Rune says. “In my leadership team, with scrum masters and product owners and project managers we are close to or above 30% females. In back- and frontend development and architecture it is less than 5%. I commit to doing what I can to increase the number of diverse applicants, like speaking at universities and letting people know that you don’t have to be a white male to work in tech. We are also working on improving how we write our job ads, to focus more on value and customer journeys rather than using the deep nerd language, to open up to a broader target group. When it comes to nationalities, culture, background and personalities, T&I is a fantastically diverse organisation.”

The rest of the EMT is committed to their Divisions becoming more diverse, too. Chief People Officer Anne-Christine Ahrenkiel persistently drives the diversity agenda and is ramping up her team to be able to deliver data to track progress. CFO Karina Deacon will promote and support the development of a mentor approach across DFDS and be a mentor herself. EVP for the Logistics Divisions Niklas Andersson is also fully committed to do anything he can to push the share of women in Logistics to 30%.

More on this to come.


DFDS’ Executive Management Team

From left:

Torben Carlsen (Chief Executive Officer)

Karina Deacon (Chief Financial Officer)

Peder Gellert (Executive Vice President, Ferry Division)

Niklas Andersson (Executive Vice President, Logistics Division)

Anne-Christine Ahrenkiel (Chief People Officer)

Rune Keldsen (Chief Technology Officer)

Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 32

Listen to Torben’s update from 6 November where he talks about:

  • The outbreak of Covid-19 on our Amsterdam-Newcastle service last week
  • Next Thursday, we will publish our Q3 results, and Torben and Karina will host a global online townhall meeting and your are all invited (more information about this will follow soon)

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Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 31

Listen to Torben’s update from 30 October where he talks about:

  • The Covid-19 situation and the lay up of Crown Seaways due to tighter travel restrictions. Unfortunately, 20 waiters will be affected.


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Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 30

Listen to Torben’s update from 23 October where he talks about:

  • The Covid-19 situation
  • Brexit and the new partnership with the UK government


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Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 29

Listen to Torben’s update from 9 October where he talks about:

  • Q3 was a tough quarter for Passenger, but we will continue to sail
  • We recently updated the DFDS Code of Conduct, and we do not accept any sexual or other harassment
  • Freight shows positive recovery, and we have even had to hire new colleagues
  • We are looking for new opportunities to grow our business


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Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 28

Listen to Torben’s update from 2 October where he talks about:

  • The management conference
  • The recent changes on some of the Baltic routes

Peder Gellert chairman of MARLOG

Peder Gellert was recently elected chairman of MARLOG (Maritime & Logistics Innovation Denmark). MARLOG is a cluster for promoting and sharing innovation and knowledge between companies and projects in the Danish Maritime industries with a focus on sustainability, digitalization and competencies.

Yesterday, the Danish Ministry of Education and Science appointed MARLOG national cluster operator. This means that MARLOG will be the only channel through which the Ministry’s funding of innovation and development in those industries will flow. The funding will be directed towards sustainability and innovation projects that can reinforce Denmark’s strong position in the global transport chain and work towards a carbon neutral shipping.

Peder Gellert says: “I am both proud and pleased to chair the board of MARLOG that has now been officially recognized by the Ministry as the maritime and logistics cluster operator. We have a strong organization in place in MARLOG, which is ready to work for innovation and development in the industry. We face a number of major challenges in our business, especially the green transition, which we can only tackle together. This is why I believe in MARLOG’s ability to make a difference as it connects all branches of the profession: ship designers, equipment manufacturers, logistics, shipping companies, ports and research and education.”

Torben Carlsen says: “I congratulate Peder warmly on his central role in the extremely important development of transport companies towards a greener and smarter future. This is a big accolade to Peder for his experience and many years of fruitful commitment to the industry. You could not have selected a better chairman. I also dare to see it as an acknowledgement of DFDS’ climate work and innovation focus and something we should all be proud of at DFDS.”

Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 27

Listen to Torben’s update from 25 September where he talks about:

  • The new strategic partnership with Danish Crown
  • Thank you for responding to the survey about how we are really doing
  • The possibility to report incidents anonymously

Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 26

Listen to Torben’s update from 18 September where he talks about:

  • A big thank you to all for finding new creative ideas
  • His visit to Gothenburg this week
  • Freight volumes still fine
  • Brexit hitting the headlines again

Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 25

Listen to Torben’s update from 11 September where he talks about:

  • Covid-19 increase in Europe causes a lot of problems for our passenger routes
  • Freight is almost back to normal
  • This week there was a virtuel Vice President meeting


Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 24

Listen to Torben’s update from 4 September where he talks about:

  • Covid-19 still causing a lot of problems for our passenger routes
  • The first of our two new freight and passenger ferries was launched on Guangzhou Shipbuilding International on 31 August
  • Flandria Seaways, our fifth mega freight ferry from Jinling Shipyard, was delivered to us 1 September
  • DFDS’ new ambitious climate plan


Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 23

Listen to Torben’s update from 28 August where he talks about:

  • The COVID-19 situation that is especially hard on the passenger business.
  • Addresses the uncertainty that has come with changes to the organisation and urges leaders to reach out to their teams.
  • The new climate action plan that you will hear more about next week.


Annual General Meeting and staff meeting at DFDS Lithuania

On Wednesday 3 April, Torben Carlsen took the opportunity to meet our Lithuanian colleagues at a staff meeting in the Radisson Hotel in Klaipėda, where he was participating in AB DFDS Seaways Lithuania’s Annual General Meeting on the same day.

On 3 April, Klaipėda hosted our newly-appointed CEO Torben Carlsen and Peder Gellert, as well as members of the senior management team.

The occasion was the Annual General Meeting of our Lithuanian ferry company, AB DFDS Seaways, which took place in the conference premises of the Klaipėda Concert Hall.

As chairman of AB DFDS Seaways, Peder Gellert Pedersen presented a recap of the main events in 2018, marked by an increase in competition on our Lithuania – Sweden service, and the incidents on Finlandia Seaways and Regina Seaways which had a negative impact on results. On the positive side, he was pleased with the increased demand for passenger services and cargo transportation during the summer and autumn, and emphasised that some reorganisation and service improvements provided a positive stimulus for moving the business forward.

As part of the agenda, the board of the company was re-elected, with Torben Carlsen replacing Niels Smedegaard.

After the meeting, the board members and managers enjoyed a gala dinner, where Peder Gellert briefly summarised the areas on which the Baltic business should focus, and thanked everyone for a fantastic job during the year.

Staff meeting with Torben
In the morning, our Lithuanian colleagues gathered at the Radisson Hotel just across the street from our headquarters in Klaipėda. They had been invited to a staff meeting with the newly-appointed CEO Torben Carlsen, who reviewed DFDS’ results for 2018, and offered his view on recent acquisitions and the Brexit problem, amongst other things. He emphasised that DFDS will continue its development direction and growth through meaningful acquisitions.

Torben also had time to answer questions, ranging from the potential acquisition of the terminal in Klaipėda to his view on IT and digitisation.

The board of directors at AB DFDS Seaways’ Annual General Meeting, with Thomas Mørk, Jonas Nazarovas, Martynas Jonkus, Peder Gellert Pedersen (Chairman), Torben Carlsen and Anders Refsgaard.

Torben Carlsen speaks – Vlog 22

Listen to Torben’s update from 20 August.

If you are unable to watch the video for technical reasons, please find the transcript here