2019 Aug Int3 Ft Img

Interview: Mr. Olaf Proes – Germany

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Experienced Shipping Professional

Olaf Proes

First, Olaf, please tell us briefly about your career in shipping and logistics. You have been around for some years, haven’t you?

As a little boy, I was taken by my elder brother on excursions, especially into the Port of Hamburg. Ships, machines, fragrance and the sounds of the port fascinated me a lot from the very beginning. After my military service, I started as a trainee in 1977 in a leading Hamburg-based shipping agency. Amongst others, they represented several shipping lines to the Indian sub-continent.

After examinations in 1980, I started in the so-called ‘India department’ in customer service. I switched in 1985 to the up-and-coming Chinese trade and climbed step-by-step up the career ladder until I became general manager at a liner agency of a leading global heavy-lift carrier. I continued thereafter, in my last employee role, as a senior broker at an international broker group with commercial responsibility.

In 2015, my own company was born, and I became independent. All in all, I have been a part of the shipping industry for forty-two years. Every day is a new challenge, even today.

Currently, I’m focused on media representation of a global project carrier, ship models, local shipping and port policy and last, but not least, on guiding guests through my hometown Hamburg.

Over the years, I suppose you’ve occasionally managed to have holidays. Can you tell us about your favourite place to enjoy your holidays?

As an employee, I spent my regular holidays mainly in Scandinavia. The time granted for that was enough. As freelancer it’s different, though. My last holiday was one week on La Graciosa island in May 2018. But generally, I like to discover islands, whether in Scandinavia, the Baltics, Canal or Canaries and, where possible, to take my bike with me. There is always some last corner which needs to be explored but mountains, indeed, are not my world. 

Standing by a model boat

So what is your number one favourite place?

Well, I’m not going to disclose all the info on my absolute favourite place, just enough for people to think about it. It is a very green island in Denmark, five hours’ drive from Hamburg, where ferries will take the tourists to it.

Watching tiny porpoises during the trip and upon landing is like diving into a different world. There’s a relaxed atmosphere, friendly people, good food, tasty beer, seaside views, birds singing and endless small roads for undisturbed biking due to non-aggressive car drivers. Passing hedges full of blossoms and breathing a good mixture of smell from flowers, sea and soil. It all grounds me and pays me back for my everyday efforts in private and business matters.

Could you recall the best restaurant or meal you have had during your holidays or travels? If so, where was that?

That’s a difficult decision, so I should mention my top three or four.
Of course, ‘Gamle Apotek’ in Copenhagen with delicious Danish (sea)food, beer and spirits. 
That’s followed by a country inn on the Helnaes peninsular (Denmark) with homemade local food, ingredients, greens and fruits.
There’s a small fish restaurant ‘La Rampa’ at seaside La Playitas (Fuerteventura, Spain) with seafood right in front of the door.
But the top of all was a traditional Danish family restaurant at Esbjerg (Denmark) with genuine handmade Danish food which, much to my regret, has now closed. Seems like the young people prefer ‘Golden Eagle’ fast food running traditional establishments out of business.

Glass of rose in the bar

Travelling is not always always enjoyable, indeed it can also be stressful. Thinking back, can you recall your most irritating travel experience too?

Let’s start with the most adventurous thing that happened in January 2017 aboard a heavy-lift vessel that ran into a heavy storm with a top speed of 220km/h. I was fixed on the bridge in a chair, fighting against seasickness and experiencing the wild face of the sea. But my most challenging trip was my first visit to China in 1993. The worst trips ever were those via German railways from Hamburg to the southern hinterland. Let’s say my opinion can’t be repeated.

There were no drinks, no food, no air conditioning, no internet, no service, no information and toilets out of order in a full train stack for hours in the middle of nowhere. No passenger travels like DB railways in modern high tech and digitized Germany.

There are many ways to enjoy your holiday. People are all different but what, in your opinion, epitomizes a great holiday?

It always takes me a few days to calm down from daily business and happenings, through which times I want peace and quiet, away from the norm. No stress at the hotel buffet, no swearing tourists due to the lack of the right bread or too green a salad. 

I prefer wide and lonely beaches without dress codes or strict rules, seasides, forests on the coast with the scent of resin. Most importantly, no people talking about [B.S.] like “my horse, my house, my wives”!

Perhaps some of our readers would like to get in touch with you out of interest, or even with business interest, thanks to your experience. Would you mind sharing your contact details with them?

I generally avoid disclosing my private info to global society, so I would prefer not to share my social media info, but for those who want to know more about my life at the water, on the water and in the water, they can enjoy similar experiences by sharing my guided tours through the city of Hamburg, and especially the excursions to the hidden places within the Port of Hamburg. 
www.olli-hamburg-guide.de

And hey, perhaps with a little wink and a light business aspect, they can get in contact with me if they are ever interested in ships and offshore models.