Leading from the front – Meet Johan Liljeström

Rederi AB Nathalie Johan Liljeström

“My job is to empower my employees to succeed on their own”, fleet manager and co-founder Johan Liljeström says about his career, “and it’s rewarding for all of us.”

Life onboard

Originating from the shores of the Baltic Sea, Johan has always been fascinated by ships, vessels, and shipping. For him, it’s a matter of deep interest. He grew up in Porvoo, where he used to spot the ships passing by. At the age of 15, he started his maritime career and has stayed on that road from then on.

At Rederi AB Nathalie, Johan is the fleet manager and co-founder. This means it is his responsibility to take care of the technical matters and to coordinate the crews. Various tasks, new projects and diverse challenges make the job interesting to him. When a new RABN ship is launched, he is the most likely person to be found onboard. 

Willing to get amongst it 

Whereas co-founder and CEO Antti is in charge of finances, Johan is the one responsible for human resources. Being a leader is his second nature, after having served as a captain for years.

According to Johan, what makes a good leader is the ability to listen and to put yourself in an employee’s place. Most of the time, it feels natural to Johan: when you have sailed for 19 years, you know what skills are required onboard and what kind of situations can occur. Thus, through his own experience, he is able to give perspectives to his employees. He trusts in leadership by going first.

As a person, Johan sees himself as ambitious and curious. ”I’m not from a rich and wealthy family. Maybe that’s what has kept me going. I’m sort of an adventurer. I’m eager to see what I can achieve and how far I can go.”

“I’m very straight-forward, as well. Most of the time it’s a good trait, I think,” Johan states and continues, “as people can count on my honesty.”

You are the master of your own destiny

During the 10-year journey of RABN, Johan and Antti have learned that both entrepreneurship and managing a shipping company has its ups and downs. Throughout his career, Johan has always relied on his motto: you are the master of your own destiny.

“That’s a thought I want to share with my employees. My role is to inspire, encourage and support them, but above all, I want to create an environment where people can thrive as a result of their own work.”