Christoph Gessner (01/2024)


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About the person


Offen Group


Chief Operating Officer

Education and professional career:

  • 1994-1996 Apprenticeship as ship's mechanic at Hamburg Süd
  • 1996-2000 Studies in Hamburg, Graduates: Engineer for ship operations as well as navigational and engineering CoC acc. to STCW95
  • 2000-2003 Seagoing service as engineer and navigational officer as well as construction inspection of newly built container vessels in Korea
  • 2003-2009 Superintendent and later Fleetmanager at Hamburg Süd - Columbus Shipmanagement
  • 2009 - 2013 General Technical Manager at Aliança Navegação e Logística in São Paulo
  • 2014 - 2018 CEO of Columbus Shipmanagment
  • 2018 Senior Fleet Group Manager at Maersk Line in Copenhagen
  • Since 12/2018 COO at Offen Group


Cooking, listing to music, cycling and volleyball

6 questions about the maritime sector and the German flag

Definitely its cosmopolitanism and the cooperation of international teams at sea and at land having a versatile and interesting nautical/engineering infrastructure and facing many challenges when delivering quality services any time, any place.

The sea has influenced my life from the get-go, so that my interest in working at sea awakened early on.

I grew up on the island Föhr, surrounded by the North Sea and accompanied by my father's stories who was a radio operator on ships. But also, the contact with many co-workers at Hapaq Lloyd added to it.

Inform yourself by directly seeking advice from land-based as well as shipboard staff of shipping companies and use an internship to get a better insight before you start your career.

Be open for this very special industry, which – if you like it – offers versatile tasks, variety, international friendships and high work satisfaction.

The first ship I was based on during my apprenticeship – CAP FINISTERRE – was under German Flag and there was always a connection with the German Flag during the next almost 24 years at Hamburg Süd as well as later at Offen Group. During my studies as ship's mechanic and as an internship counselor, after university as an engineer and later in the office, I repeatedly had German-flagged ships to manage and was in direct contact with the land-based representatives of the German Flag.

In all my years, the German Flag has always been a quality flag. 20 year ago, the organization onshore was a lot more bureaucratic but the required experts were always available. Nowadays, the German Flag does not have to hide behind other flags with front office agencies. It has an excellent website, a good digitalisation standard, a comprehensive and competent service and therefore a very good cost/performance ratio.

Hopefully it will continue to be a quality flag that copes with the various and ever-changing requirements of the shipping industry together with their customers at eye-level and well-connected.