Baba Devani, CEO Marine, Survitec

Five Minutes with Baba Devani, CEO Marine, Survitec

As Survitec continues to grow with the recent acquisition of Hansen Protection, Baba Devani, CEO Marine, discusses the strategic importance of the acquisition to the overall strategy of Survitec as well as the path ahead.

By Greg Trauthwein

Baba Devani
Photo courtesy Survitec

Baba, to start, can you give our readers a “by the numbers” look at Survitec today.

We're an organization with about 3,000 colleagues. We operate ourselves in 30 different countries with a presence across 2,000 ports. We work in the Marine business with roughly 350 service partners who also serve our customers, and we have an install base of product on approximately 40,000 vessels around the world.

The impetus for this interview was Survitec’s recent announcement about the completion of the acquisition of Hansen Protection. Why was this acquisition attractive? What does it add to Survitec?

Hansen Protection is a great business with a great team and fantastic customer relationships in the Norwegian market. (The acquisition) gives us a complete product portfolio across personal protective equipment, so across all of the immersion suits and life jackets. And if you look at the combination of their immersion suits, abandonment suits and our life jackets, and some of our suits, the portfolio is definitely the strongest there is in the market.

The other thing that's really interesting about Hansen Protection is also their success in the offshore wind sector. We both work in this sector. (The combined companies) position us really well in the global wind sector, and we know that there's an accelerating level of investment in offshore wind globally.

Photo courtesy Survitec

Perhaps this next question is a little premature considering that the ink has just dried on this contract, but can you shed some light on Survitec's future growth strategy? Will it be organic, or do you envision more acquisitions?

I think we have a lot of growth potential organically. We have a global footprint, we have a product portfolio where there's still room for us to grow. Having said that, there are capabilities that we would like to develop, and that will always involve some level of acquisition. So we will continue to look at acquisitions in both our Marine and defense businesses.

Survitec obviously serves multiple markets globally. Looking out today by geographic region or market niche, where do you see opportunity?

I think for us it's continuing to build a service footprint. There are areas geographically where we can do that, certainly Asia Pacific and Africa. There are other markets, such as India’s significant maritime market, that we need to develop. We have a good footprint in the core geographies of the USA, Canada, parts of Latin America. We've got a very strong footprint in Europe and also in APAC. And then, of course, we talked about wind. So clearly as the wind markets develop, we will continue to develop our service footprint and our product capability around that as well.

Photo courtesy Survitec

COVID has dominated our lives for the last 15 months. Can you discuss how COVID has impacted Survitec?

Let's start with the challenges from COVID. Clearly, access to customers' vessels, access to ports has been a challenge, as well as our own people traveling around the world to go and service our customer’s needs. And let's not forget, the business side of things is one thing, but there's also the human side of things. People have fallen sick as a result of COVID, and so we must recognize the personal risk that people have taken to serve our customers.

Having said that, I think COVID has forced us to work differently and to be creative, and there's been some positives from that too. You think about the way we are now delivering training, technical training and management training digitally, which we never did before. The way we are transferring data and working remotely, as we are now, and giving ourselves time to work more efficiently has been an advantage. I think the other thing that's really important is for the industry as a whole, the marine industry has not been a super-fast adopter of technology or digital technology, and I think now what we're seeing is a much greater desire within the industry to use technology to find solutions. I think that is very positive indeed. So it has been a challenging year, but I think it's encouraged us accelerate different ways of working, which is important for the future.

July 2021