Looking after one of the busiest shipping markets in the World, our Greece Country Manager Anna Economou talks about the importance of building great customer relationships, the growing demand for TALUSIA UNIVERSAL and how the Greek phrase “Philotimo” reflects the Total approach.
Q) Tell us how you came to be working in your current role as Country Manager and Head of the Greek office for Total Lubmarine
I joined Lubmarine in 2003 and have worked in a range of roles over that time, developing into my current position of Greece Country Manager, based in Athens. I am also responsible for Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania.
Back in 2003 I started in the Customer Services team, then worked in Sales Support, before working as an Account Manager in the sales team, before eventually becoming Country Manager, so you can say I have broad experience across key areas of the business.
I think this broad experience enables me to add greater value to our customers, as I have a greater understanding of different aspects of the customer journey and am well placed to understand their needs, challenges and issues.
Ultimately my job is to work with the great team we have here to provide our customers with the right combination of product and technical solutions for their specific needs.
Q) What do you love about the job and the role you have?
The Greek Shipping market is the biggest shipping market in the world and we are dealing with around 364 million DWT tonnes so it can be a challenging environment in which to work - but ultimately a really rewarding one with a focus on building trusting, positive, valuable relationships with our customers.
It is also a very technical audience and there are a lot of technical oriented companies. They challenge our products technically so when you get their approval it acts as a big seal of approval. The owners and operators here want to keep the quality of their vessels high and value the contribution we help make. Environment, safety and quality are key phrases for them and the combination of our products and services matches this approach.
It is a sector that also likes innovation and has often been the pioneers and innovators in the market and this remains true today, for example, in terms of embracing new fuel technologies. It is a forward-thinking market always open to exploring new solutions and this is in turn great for us when working with our customers as they are looking at ways to combine sustainability with CAPEX and OPEX.
That willingness to explore new opportunities is great from our perspective as the approach at Total Lubmarine is one of continual product and service development, ensuring our discussions with customers are always developing.
I enjoy dealing directly with our customers and building great working relationships with them. They appreciate the honest and open approach that we have with them. The relationship between the customer and us is very important. We pride ourselves on delivering great customer service and this is a differentiator for us I believe.
We have to work hard to win and keep our customers and that is the basis for the quality relationships that we have with them. We also want to stay ahead of the needs of our customers and offer them solutions before they ask us - and can only do this by having good relationships with them and by really listening to them and the market.
It is a matter of pride. We have a saying here in Greece that is ‘Philotimo’. It doesn’t really translate into a single word - it is more a general approach, a way of being, which is rooted in Integrity - in what we do and how we do it.
This sits really well with the Total approach to our people - we value our people and the team and what as a team, we can achieve.
Q) Can you tell us about the types of customers you are working with?
As we have said, the Greek Shipping market is a massive one and we work right across it, from major global operators through to the medium and smaller operators on a more regional level.
A lot of our business here is split between the container market, tankers and bulkers. What has been really pleasing for us is that we have increased our market share in the last few years - which we believe is a testament to our approach of great products, great service and great technical expertise.
Whether we have been working with customers for 20 years or others are new to us, we focus on the relationship. We are always trying to support customers
Q) How has your role changed as a result of Covid-19?
Certainly Covid has been challenging. We really value the relationships we have with our customers and a lot of that has been built on direct contact with them. Whilst we haven’t been able to do this during Covid, we have ensured that the close contact and dialogue that our customers value has been retained through online meetings and our wider digital support including our Technical Services, access to our Marine Lubricant Engineers and of course the availability of our products across the Greek shipping region.
What this has highlighted is that even in such challenging times we have been able to provide our customers with proactive, practical, value-added people-focused support.
Q) What has been some of the recent trends and developments you are seeing in your market?
In the Greek market - we are here to make shipping operators lives easier and clearly the move to VLSFO has been the major area we have been supporting our customers with.
They need products that solve any issues relating to the introduction of VLSFO and we have been able to deliver these and also back this up with our technical support. Through our BN57 TALUSIA UNIVERSAL (TU) in particular we have been really able to support customers and bring wider benefits, as well as bring new customers on board.
Whilst the industry is huge here in Greece, it is also a close knit one and as a result of the benefits we have been able to deliver through TALUSIA UNIVERSAL we have seen increased demand from the industry as word of its performance benefits has spread. Once they have run their own tests and seen the benefits of using TALUSIA UNIVERSAL when using Low Sulfur fuels they switched by choice to TU. In fact we have seen volumes rise which they are continuing to do.
The beauty of TU is that it is also an approved solution for any operators looking at switching to LNG. We recently added two new LNG vessels as a result of the qualification of TU for Dual Fuel on WIN GD engines.
It is a great success story and I think we will have more TU sales across 2021.
As the industry here is also at the forefront of innovation, we fully anticipate the demand for LNG to grow significantly. This is a natural development for us also, as along with leading products - we are one of only two LNG approval lubricant manufacturers in the market currently - we are able to back this up with the level and range of technical support we offer.
Drain Oil Analysis services are used by a lot of our customers as they are discerning about their vessels and like the insights and benefits that these services offer.
There are a growing group of companies that really focus on technical services and our support is key to them.
One new customer we recently won was because of the Technical Services that we offer. There is an increasing value being placed on the technical support we provide. They value the added benefits these services bring.
Q) What do you like to do in your social time?
A year ago, I started Yoga and Pilates classes and this has become really important to me.
I enjoy different styles of Yoga and Pilates and have made this a regular part of my and practice about 3-4 times a week.
It has improved my physical health, boosted my strength, brings me wellness and helps stress management. It also helps me create a great work/life balance.
I also like to read books, particularly psychology and autobiography books.
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