- IMD Business School
Alumni Stories · Leadership

Chance meeting in the IMD network led to an innovation in shipping industry

IMD EMBA Stefano Poli, and MBA alumnus Hans Ottosen launch new tech system for shipping
April 2019

Stefano Poli is Vice-President of Maritime Business Development at Inmarsat, a global satellite communications firm active in shipping as well as other sectors.

He graduated with honors from IMD’s Executive MBA program in 2017. According to Stefano, his participation in the program sowed the seeds for one of his current projects, which he has worked hard on and believes is one of the biggest innovations in the maritime sector in many years. It is one that has “shaken the industry,” according to Stefano.

It all started in the strategy stream in the IMD EMBA program, where Stefano began working on a new product and service.

It was then that he came in contact with Hans Ottosen, CEO of Danelec Marine, an IMD MBA Alumnus (class of 1997). According to Stefano and Hans, they recognized common ground right away.

“When we met for the first time, it was like we were on the same wavelength. It was like we had a common invisible language. That was why we were able to move forward quickly from there,” said Stefano.

The two executives then began their fruitful collaboration and discussions which led to the development of a new Internet of Things platform for the maritime industry called Fleet Data, a joint initiative between Inmarsat and Danelec Marine led by Stefano and Hans. Fleet data is a service that – via the cloud – centralizes and aggregates a shipping fleet’s data making it more easily accessible by shipping companies and sharable with third parties, solving a challenge the maritime industry has struggled to date. The new platform they’ve created also makes it easier for subscribing companies to make their own performance-based decisions. Stefano and Hans are currently rolling out Fleet Data throughout the maritime industry.

“It’s a great story about two companies that have come together through IMD and came up with an innovative idea in the maritime industry. Most people find it difficult to grasp how to actually bring innovative ideas to life, but we’ve been able to take it forward,” said Hans.

“Where IMD played a role in this was that the knowledge you acquire at the school becomes part of you and you can have a common understanding with someone else who has been educated at IMD very quickly,” said Stefano.

Both Hans and Stefano said IMD played an important role in developing their business acumen in general, in addition to sparking their innovative new project.

“The EMBA program was very good. It was a platform for professional and personal development. If you are ready to develop yourself meaningfully, it is both challenging and formative,” said Stefano. “I also gained a strong network.”

According to Hans the MBA has contributed substantially to his successful career. “Above all it provided me with the ability to quickly gain a business overview in new contexts. Through my education at IMD, I learned to make business decisions quickly and effectively, which has been invaluable.”

Find out more about IMD’s MBA and EMBA degree programs