Supporting a new leader: succession at Skuld
Skuld is an international marine insurer established in 1897 as a liability insurance mutual for Scandinavian ship owners. Today it underwrites across the maritime sector, covering risks from rigs to superyachts through its Protection & Indemnity (P&I) club and Syndicate 1897 at Lloyd’s.
After 14 years at the helm of Skuld, chief executive Douglas Jacobsohn was to be succeeded by chief finance officer Ståle Hansen. Haggie Partners was tasked with ensuring a smooth and successful transition, first by communicating controlled messages to internal audiences, clients, and trade media, then by raising Mr Hansen’s profile. A core goal was to underscore his competence and qualifications.
Trust and confidence are critical in the competitive environments of P&I and Lloyd’s, and Skuld had built both assiduously. Haggie Partners’ distilled an underlying remit: to ensure they were sustained or enhanced by the leadership succession. Working with senior managers, Haggie Partners ascertained and refined key messages to establish Mr Hansen’s strength, and identified trade media which could best be enlisted to reach Skuld’s diverse audiences. Consolidation of Mr Hansen’s position as a marine insurance thought leader was advanced through carefully placed profile interviews.
Haggie Partners initiated a successful internal communications programme targeting Skuld’s staff and P&I Club Members. Staff rallied behind the new chief, and Skuld’s premium income increased by eight percent, despite declining prices. The public agenda for interpreting the succession was controlled by first announcing the decision in an article by the outgoing CEO in TradeWinds, an industry newspaper which cuts across critical audiences. Extensive international, trade, and vertical coverage of the appointment was positive. Subsequently, Mr Hansen’s position has been entrenched through placements such as the Insurance Day ‘Big Interview’, in which he outlined the way forward for the P&I sector, underpinning his credentials as a key industry leader.
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