George is the Managing Partner of TMH Limited. The Company provides marine solutions to Shipping organizations in Cyprus, Middle East and Far East.
George shares his views on managing change and strategy, his employee engagement and leadership style and his beginnings in Shipping.
Muriel: “TMH Ltd has recently celebrated 10 years of growth and development in Cyprus. Congratulations George, on this achievement! When you look back, what are the main challenges you have overcome?”
George: “I had to face two main challenges. My biggest challenge at that time was to reconnect again with the Mediterranean culture, which I lost a bit after I left Spain. The other challenge was to start the Company before the economic and shipping crisis.
To overcome these two challenges, I spent a lot of time meeting people in different Shipping organizations on the island, discussing our experiences and the approach we each have towards customer satisfaction.
Regarding the crisis that occurred shortly after, we reacted as an Organization by reducing running cost. We also talked to our customers about their changing needs, in order to help them overcome the difficulties they were facing.”
Muriel: “How do you engage your team to apply their best skills and continuously improve their capabilities, in order to satisfy your customers in an ever changing industry?”
George: “Instead of providing ready answers and solutions to my team members, I motivate them to look themselves for the answers and the solutions they think are best.
This enables each one of them to get a better understanding of business matters and increase their level of independency.
I find that this engagement style maintains the “team member feeling” which builds up motivation and results for better customer support, once the bigger picture is grasped.”
Muriel: “Learning from people who are willing to share their experiences can be beneficial. Would you like to tell us the story of your career beginnings in Shipping?”
George: “I started by supplying spares for breweries in 1995 and then in 2002, I moved to supplying spares in Shipping.
Back then, I had the great opportunity to meet a lot of Engineers who taught me all about the business, with details and patience. We used to get together after working hours and they would spend time showing me how the parts that I was selling, actually work. My knowledge is coming from them and I can only say a big Thank You to all of them”.
Muriel: “What was the best opportunity you had in your professional career?”
George: “I had many opportunities but the best one was to move to Cyprus and be a Partner in the existing Company.”
Muriel: “How do you stay committed to achieve your strategic objectives?”
George: “I try to see the challenge in new objectives and while trying to reach them, I focus on getting satisfaction out of the results and the learning during the process. This is the case, for example, when exploring and opening new markets for the company.
We get to know various markets and different cultures all over the world, which we have to adapt to, whether we are dealing with a new customer or a new supplier. We learn a lot when we take part in exhibitions in various parts of the world or when we visit a country for the first time.”
Muriel: “According to you, what are the current challenges that Shipping companies are facing and how can these be addressed?”
George: “The challenge in shipping is to operate vessels without excessive costs; we try to address these as traders, by providing the best possible alternatives for our customers, while ensuring quality products and services.”
George von Oppen was born in Medellin, Colombia. In 1987, he moved to Spain and worked in fruits and vegetables as Sales Manager for the European market. In 1996, he took the position of stainless steel Sales Manager for the South American market until 2002, when he became Sales Manager for spares in Shipping for the South American and Cyprus markets. In 2007, he was appointed Managing Partner of TMH Ltd.
Muriel Matta (BSc, MSc, MPhil, Cert CTT Practitioner) is the Founder of Maravilhosa.
She is a multilingual Human Resources Management expert, with extensive cross-cultural experience, spanning 26 years in MENA, Europe and CIS.
Through her work with Organizations and Individuals, she helps solve the toughest HR challenges by customizing unique training and coaching solutions to inspire change, positive thinking and transformation.
Muriel can be contacted via email: Muriel@maravilhosa.net