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Testing Times: Blue MBA Buoys Professional Development

Charlotte Røjgaard says her Blue MBA studies will help her role as head of the key Bureau Veritas service VeriFuel

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Charlotte Røjgaard (image courtesy BV)

By The Maritime Executive 06-07-2020 12:23:34

Just as the shipping industry is getting to grips with the new limits on fuel sulphur content, Charlotte Røjgaard who oversees testing and inspection of bunker samples for Bureau Veritas is simultaneously facing a personal challenge, on the academic front.

Ms Røjgaard, who is global head of VeriFuel, the marine fuel services division of the classification and certification group, is engaged in intense studies as one of the Class of 2021 of the Executive MBA in Shipping & Logistics, known as the Blue MBA, which is run under the aegis of Copenhagen Business School.

Why does someone at the top of her profession, a leading technical practitioner and communicator, resort to an ‘academic’ excursion? The answer is that the Blue MBA is far from the concept of an ivory tower.

She explains her decision to devote valuable time to the pursuit of greatly specialised higher learning thus: “Through the past decades, I have grown to become a technical expert on marine fuels. I love that part of my work but also felt that the time had come to combine my technical knowledge with the strategic side of the business. For me, the Blue MBA with its focus on shipping & logistics provides the perfect platform – and network – for me to increase my executive management skills within a global industry.”

Engaging in the globally renowned two-year part-time course and fulfilling her responsibilities for Bureau Veritas have been beset with the additional complexities of official lockdowns and restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.

The Danish executive nevertheless reports that headway is being made on both sides, following the remote learning arrangements temporarily in place for the MBA programme, and with signs that shipowners are generally managing the bunker fuel revolution efficiently.

The VeriFuel monitoring programme is backed by the Bureau Veritas network of more than 100 owned laboratories worldwide. It provides fuel quality and quantity assessment and advice and opinion to help protect commercial interests, improve vessel performance and prevent engine failure and unscheduled maintenance and downtime.

Ms Røjgaard said: “VeriFuel is and has been open and operational during the Covid-19 situation taking all required precautions. Whereas initially we experienced some service disruptions due to local restrictions, the market has now found its balance and we continuously provide our high- quality services to vessel operators. 

“In addition to our traditional services such as fuel testing, bunker surveys, lube oil and water testing, we can perform remote services in certain segments where face to face contact is not allowed due to Covid-19.”

Adapting to the new conditions plays to her strengths. Her record of being at the forefront of developing digital technologies for the marine fuel sector, including logistics solutions and an interactive customer portal, are invaluable at a time when the maximum number of technical and business functions are being conducted online. Regardless of circumstances, ensuring fuel quality and safety is the over-riding concern.

With elements of mistrust and fear of change having pervaded the bunker sector, transparency is essential, says Ms Røjgaard.

“Traditionally, the bunkering industry has not been very transparent. A ‘them and us’ approach has grown, partly fed by economic interests, hidden agendas and a relatively unregulated industry. It has been interesting to follow the development leading up to 1 January 2020. The new fuels being introduced to the market as an effect of IMO2020 caused concern to the industry but out of that also came a greater transparency on what could be expected from the supply as well as the operational side.

“The benefits of knowledge-sharing not only quench incorrect myths it also allows the industry to better manage risk through experience and cooperation. In the end, we all share a joint interest in ensuring safe operation for the seafarers.”

Ms Røjgaard was appointed to her current role at VeriFuel in July 2019, just as fuel specifications were in the spotlight as never before, with ship operators being pushed to comply with new regulations as from January 2020. It has been said that the 2020 project affects 75% of demand for marine fuel. Refineries, shore terminals, tank farms and barging operations have all had to come to terms with the changes, reinforcing the role VeriFuel plays in guiding its clients.

As global head of VeriFuel, Ms Røjgaard manages teams in Greece, the UK, Norway, Singapore, the Netherlands, and the USA. The company mission is to “develop and provide value adding solutions to the maritime industry through commitment, creativity and dedication.”

An accomplished presenter in media interviews, seminars, conferences, and courses, she is a familiar personality at gatherings such as the International Bunker Conference and Singapore International Bunkering Conference.

She is secretary of the International Council on Combustion Engines (CIMAC) fuels working group, and Danish representative in the ISO 8217 committee working on marine fuel specifications. She has co-authored several CIMAC guidelines and recommendations and represented CIMAC in the joint industry project IMO2020 fuels. 

Ms Røjgaard, who holds an MSc in chemical engineering, has been working in the maritime industry since graduating in 1996. 

Her background in chemical engineering combined with marine engine knowledge enables her to manage the interface between lube oil properties, bunker fuel quality and engine performance in resolving operational issues and giving operational advice.

For the first 14 years of her career, she was with MAN Diesel & Turbo  (now MAN Energy Solutions) working in the emissions department and later became responsible for lubes and fuel projects. She had hands-on experience dealing with engines – especially the two-stroke types – at the manufacturers and on the test engine in Copenhagen.

In January 2010 she moved to Singapore for DNV Petroleum Services and two years later became its global technical manager responsible for the development and technology portfolio. Following the sale of DNVPS in November 2013, she became group technical director, and just over a year later moved to Bureau Veritas as global technical manager helping launch VeriFuel, establishing a technical team, ensuring a unified approach between the dedicated labs worldwide, and taking part  developing new service offerings.

In early 2019, Ms Røjgaard published a white paper entitled Investigative Analysis of Marine Fuel Oils: Pros & Cons. The document outlined concerns to be addressed, and she made clear: “The real challenge lies in interpreting fuel sample results and understanding the link, if any, to the vessel’s problems. The composition of marine fuel oil is dependent on multiple factors... The Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) register contains more than 100 million substances. No library will contain all components and finding one could be like finding a needle in a haystack.”

The Blue MBA has since 2001 graduated a diverse roster totalling 274 students from more than 45 countries.  Forty-three professionals from 21 countries, including nine women, are taking part in the current Class of what has been referred to by industry leaders and top academics as “probably the best shipping MBA in the world.”  

For more information about the Blue MBA visit: www.cbs.dk/mbs

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