Steady Leadership in Choppy Seas: An Asian Maritime Perspective
This case highlights the success of Precious Shipping Public Company Limited (PSL) over the course of its history as it weathered the cyclical and volatile nature of the shipping industry. Though it was able to survive some of the biggest downturns in the market, most notably the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, is it poised to sustain this success? In March 2015, the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), an economic indicator of the average price to ship raw materials, hit an all-time low. Khalid Hashim, Managing Director of PSL - based in Bangkok - has been at the helm of the company since it was formed and has showcased a dynamic and visionary leadership style to help it thrive over the years.
Given that the shipping industry is capital intensive and characterised by having high leverage ratios, there is a considerable amount of risk, causing many companies to go out of business when the market drops. One of the key things that Hashim learned was to make rational and calculated decisions with regard to debt and assets. For example, although he had a natural aversion to carrying debt, he realized that it was important to take out loans with 15-year profiles (rather than the common four-year profiles) to be able to withstand downturns in the market. In addition, he learned to resist the urge to sell off assets (i.e., ships) when the market is low (and buy when it is high). Instead, he had to learn to think more systematically and with a longer-term view.
Hashim was also likely able to succeed through trying times by maintaining a strong culture in the organisation, and ensuring strong relationships with both internal and external stakeholders in a transparent and approachable way.
Hashim prides himself on giving his employees a great deal of autonomy – which he also credits as being the key factor for the extremely low attrition rate at PSL. However, the low attrition over the years is also an issue, because it leaves little room for promotion within the company. Thus, the company is poised to go through a transformational period in the next 10 years where succession planning will become a top priority.
Finally, the case ends with an analysis of the current state of affairs. The BDI just reached an all-time low given several peculiarities in the market. Hashim is now tasked with planning for the future of his company during an unexpected industry trough.
This case can be used as a tool for discussion regarding issues of leader decision-making, organisational culture, and HR (e.g., succession planning). Depending on the facilitator’s interest and purpose, it could even be adapted to be used for more specific discussions on crisis management or maritime strategy. It is a relatively broad case that is designed for use in organisational behaviour or human resources courses at undergraduate, postgraduate, or executive level.
Maritime, Shipping, Capital Intensive, Market Cycles, Culture, Organisational Culture, Stakeholder Relations, Transformation, Family Business, Succession, Planning, Long-Term, Planning, Organisational Behaviour, Crisis Management, Strategy, HR, Human Resources, Leadership, Talent Development, Retainment, Recruitment, Talent
Asian Studies | Human Resources Management | Organizational Behavior and Theory | Strategic Management Policy | Transportation
Executive Education; Postgraduate; Undergraduate
Singapore Management University