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COLOMBIA - Transport

Mariela Valero

President, Hapag-Lloyd Colombia


Mariela Valero is an Economist in Foreign trade, with studies in Law and International Relations from Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, studies in Logistiscs and supply chain from Pontificia Universidad Catolica, Argentina. She joined Hapag Lloyd in 2009, and in 2011 she moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina as a Global Account Manager for River Plate Area ( Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay). In 2019 she returned to Colombia and her current position as a Country General Manager. She enjoys and spends her free time doing exercise, spending time with her family, friends, and her lovely dog, as well as traveling, being in nature, and taking sailing classes. She is part of a women’s association that works to inspire women to take leadership roles in the logistics industry.

"Our primary goal is to be the leader in quality. We have long-standing experience in the Latin American market, and this is a strategic focus for Hapag-Lloyd in Latam."
TBY talks to Mariela Valero, President of Hapag-Lloyd Colombia, about the logistics sector, new ships, and the expected evolution of the industry in the years to come.
What strategy is the company employing to achieve its goal of becoming a leader in the logistics and transportation sector in Colombia?

Our primary goal is to be the leader in quality. We have long-standing experience in the Latin American market, and this is a strategic focus for Hapag-Lloyd in Latam. Our main objective is to lead in quality and maintain our position as a prominent shipping line in the Colombian market while prioritizing our people. Our core values of We Care, We Move, and We Deliver are crucial for maintaining a supportive environment for our employees to grow within the company. Aligning globally with these values, the current landscape, influenced by globalization and post-COVID-19 changes, offers more diverse opportunities.

Hapag-Lloyd recently christened its new vessel Montevideo Express in Cartagena. What are the strategic benefits of this milestone?

We deployed 10 ships mainly in Latin America, including the Montevideo Express, strategically sized for the South American market. With 2,220 reefer plugs, these vessels boast the highest number of river connections in each container vessel, reinforcing our position in South America. This strong river presence enhances our market shares. These new ships emit fewer emissions, aligning with our commitment to IMO 2020. We are actively progressing toward IMO 2023 and targeting zero emissions by 2045. Our goal is for all vessels to use decarbonized fuels, ensuring low emissions by 2045.

What advantages does Cartagena offer for Hapag-Lloyd Colombia?

Cartagena serves as our key hub in Latin America, handling 700,000 TEUs in transshipment, making it the most crucial port in our region. The port has undergone significant development, becoming one of the most modern and important ports for us in Latin America. Notably, Cartagena has invested millions in its development, emphasizing a remarkable security concept that excels in reliability and productivity. We were particularly impressed with its recent Tempanos operation, showcasing remarkable productivity milestones for Hapag-Lloyd vessels. The port’s confidence in security and productivity is of utmost importance to us.

Is Hapag-Lloyd introducing new technologies such as AI to enhance operational efficiency?

We have successfully integrated AI into various processes and terminals, managed centrally at our main office in Hamburg. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, our commercial sites have experienced significant advancements through AI-powered tools. Customers now receive instant quotations for shipments from port A to port B via their smartphones. This technological innovation is a substantial improvement for both us and the market. Our platform provides cargo tracking information, offering valuable insights such as monitoring Reefer container temperatures and tracking temperature changes during water transport. This feature is particularly beneficial for agricultural exporters dealing with delicate commodities such as flowers, ensuring product quality is maintained.

As a leader in the company, how do you encourage women in the male-dominated logistics and maritime sector?

This is a real challenge for me and all women in the new generations, as I aim to inspire them. It is not solely about gender—it is about seizing the opportunities the company offers and enhancing one’s skills. Throughout my lengthy tenure at Hapag-Lloyd, I have faced challenges and embraced great personal and professional opportunities. I encourage women by demonstrating decision-making and discipline and tackling specific challenges. In conversations with the younger generation at Hapag-Lloyd, I stress the importance of passion, preparation, and pursuing happiness. Opportunities arise when you enjoy what you do daily. I have worked hard to be a positive leader, influencing the team, especially amidst the challenges posed by new generations. Being passionate remains my core challenge, urging others to recognize that certain things in life take time. I advocate setting specific goals in both personal and professional life, as they provide direction and motivation.

How do you envision the maritime transportation market in Colombia evolving?

Colombia is an attractive and growing market that holds the potential for a more significant role in the future. However, our expectations are contingent upon geopolitical and trade developments. Container shipping is integral to global trade and the world economy, with over 90% of export goods transported by ships in an increasingly globalized supply chain. The significance of the shipping industry became evident during events like the COVID-induced disruptions to supply chains and the 2021 Suez Canal blockage. These incidents underscore the industry’s critical role. Our commitment is to streamline operations and become the leader in quality, recognizing the growing importance of shipping in contributing to the global economy.



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