Innovating for the future
Teus van Beek is 62, but his energy is that of a 26-year-old. Driven by a passion for propellers and hydrodynamics, Teus joined Lips Propellers, a local propulsion company in The Netherlands, in the year 1980, and in 2002, the company was acquired by Wärtsilä. Today, as a General Manager for Ecosystem Innovation at Wärtsilä, Teus defines future needs. No wonder then that he leads with the line, “we own the future.”
“I see opportunities where others see problems,” says Teus, revealing yet another facet of his personality that explains why he is at the top of his game. “This motivates and drives me to develop concepts that will deliver future business.”
That philosophy is characteristic of Teus. When Lips Propellers was taken over by Wärtsilä, he saw an opportunity to gain first-hand experience in ship and business concepts, thanks to Wärtsilä’s growing international portfolio, which much wider in scope than that of Lip Propellors.
Today, a typical day at work for Teus is quite action-packed. From customer workshops and boot camps to collaborating with different people within the organisation – Teus and his colleagues constantly facilitate innovative solutions for a better future. “I love interacting with committed people from varied backgrounds,” he admits.
“When we meet up in a team of various Wärtsilians from different backgrounds, I am always positively surprised by the amount of shared know-how and knowledge we bring together. There is huge potential in this. It is not the portfolio but the knowledge of the portfolio for our customers’ businesses that make all the difference,” he adds. “By joining forces we disclose this treasure to the customer.”
This also explains why Teus thoroughly enjoys external events, such as Norshipping which was held in Oslo this year. During the event, Teus – along with his colleague Egil Hystad – had a field day interacting with young scholars of the French Lyceum in Oslo, not just about clean engines but also a lot of other matters.
“We did this workshop as a courtesy to one of the girls in the class; she had previously taken part in our Horizons event showing genuine interest towards clean engines,” he explains. “In the class, to set the scene and get well connected, Egil and I introduced ourselves as Statler and Waldorf, the two Sesame Street muppets who are two old guys that comment on the world around them. It was fun with the kids there.”
“When we showed the first slide, we were immediately asked several questions, and we had very active discussions. They were really into the topics of the future, about climate change and sustainability and had difficulty in understanding why people would not change their behaviour to do thing better,” adds Teus. “The future is owned by the next generation, and there is a lot of talent in there. This has given me confidence in the future generation.”
For Teus, innovation is a way of life. Recently, he came up with a unique solution to help finance the energy transition in shipping. “We developed an idea to use carbon credits (a system that collects money from companies or individuals that want to compensate for their emissions) to help stimulate good behaviour from ship operators that invest in green solutions,” he explains, adding that the team is now working on two pilot cases with customers. According to Teus, the project calls for understanding the customer’s business from a financial as well as technical point of view.
Drawing on core strengths
While Teus considers the diversity and collective knowledge of all Wärtsilians a big asset, he also feels that innovation has been the key to the organisation’s success.
“The fact that we focus on digital comes from the mindset of innovation. Somehow, I feel that this all traces back to the time of day that Wärtsilä still had – or was – a shipyard, the overall coordination and the system integration is still part of our DNA,” he explains.
Going forward, Teus believes that the main focus for Wärtsilä will be to get customers into long-term agreements with incentives on performance.
“This will be enabled by new digital-artificial elements in our offerings. It will not be about selling stand-alone digital applications or just equipment. Wärtsilä-as-a-service is about solving customers’ problems using the knowledge of our equipment with add on performance data from the digitals learnings. My ambition is to be at the forefront of delivering that promise,” he declares. “When you do things alone you move fast, when you do things together you reach far. As others are moving forward fast as well, we need to be fast and reach far on the right things.”
But it’s not all work and no play for Teus. During his long stint at Wärtsilä, he has built a treasure trove of memories. He recalls an interesting incident when he was on board a small cruise vessel with eleven others, a development that ended up with Wärtsilä making its first – and last – electrical pod.
“We were a team of service people for commissioning and a technical team to support the negotiations with class and owner of the delivery. This was an end of a unique 4-year development that started on a blank sheet of paper. We collaborated with Sam Electronics that is now also part of Wärtsilä. The units are still doing good and they’re in operation,” he says. “I believe that experiences like these helped me to develop as a person also in daily life.”
The child in Teus comes alive when he is surrounded by his children and grandchildren. Teus has a very busy family life with his spare time dedicated to activities like jogging, gardening, and family events.
“What keeps me energised is the feeling of making a difference. At home, I enjoy family life. We have four grown-up kids and four grandchildren. Spending time with them is the best,” he says. “Enjoying work and enjoying life creates that perfect balance that is essential for a happy future.”