What kind of company is Stolt-Nielsen?
By Anne van Dassen Mueller, Chief HR Officer, Stolt-Nielsen Limited
That’s a good question. The fact is, it’s almost impossible to get a feel for a company until you have actually worked there. Before I joined Stolt-Nielsen four years ago, I did a lot of homework. But even so, I still didn’t really know the answer to the question above. Now I do.
One of the first things I learned when I came to Stolt is that this is not just a global company, but a global community. In our Rotterdam office, for example, we have about 30 nationalities represented among our 300-plus employees. There are so many nationalities, in fact, that rather than speaking Dutch, we all speak English. And this is something you find in many of our offices around the world—Europeans, Asians, Americans, Middle Easterners, Africans all working easily together.
From Day 1, I saw that the people at Stolt treat each other with respect. And if you think about it, it really couldn’t be any other way, because there is no “ruling majority” here. So the focus is where it belongs: on the work.
And because of that focus on work, decision-making here tends to be fast. This is a flat organization—there are not a lot of levels of approval. People are empowered and held responsible. Granted, this kind of environment doesn’t appeal to everyone. But there’s no denying the fact that Stolt attracts and retains top quality employees who are not only capable, dedicated and proactive in their jobs, but pragmatic and modest, too. Stolt-Nielsen is no place for boasters or moaners. Which is precisely why recruiters so often look to Stolt for well trained and professional staffers and managers.
By the way, the Stolt work ethic is in many ways a direct result of the culture built by the Stolt-Nielsen family over the years. Jacob Stolt-Nielsen, the founder, truly valued the qualities of loyalty and hard work. And he made sure that Stolt employees were rewarded accordingly with a complete package of compensation, health and pension benefits—a commitment that continues to this day under CEO Niels Stolt-Nielsen.
Family control of the business has other benefits, too. Stolt-Nielsen has the ability to take the long view—to make investments that sensibly build on our strengths, with an eye to a future that is 10, 20 and even 30 years ahead. That means we can stay focused on the goals we believe are important for the long haul. For most public companies, and certainly most CEOs, that kind of long range thinking simply isn’t an option. For our employees, it means that goals don’t change with the seasons or changes in management.
What I also find exciting is that Stolt continues to evolve and push in new directions. Over the last four years, I’ve watched the organization open up—there’s more cross-business communication, more interconnectivity and more talent-sharing than ever. We’ve broken down the silos and that means more opportunities and career-path choices for all of us.
It’s also exciting to see that Stolt’s reputation as an innovator remains as strong as ever. The fuel efficient C38 newbuildings, Sea Farm’s unique sole facility in Iceland, STC’s mySTCtanks e-business platform—the list goes on.
But the real satisfaction that comes from working at Stolt is very much about the day-to-day. When there’s a challenge here, people pitch in and get it done. Being part of a hardworking team of professionals is a tremendous feeling that makes it a pleasure to come to work every day. If you ask me, that’s what it’s like to work at Stolt-Nielsen.
—Anne van Dassen Mueller, Chief HR Officer, Stolt-Nielsen Limited