With CEO Till Ole Barrelet at the helm, the company’s goals of simplifying shipping and adding a human touch have further been amplified. In this issue of LM, we take a deep dive into ESL, talking to Till about his vision for the company and how his 18 years of industry experience has shaped its operations.

Till Ole Barrelet, CEO at Emirates Shipping Line

ESL is strategically positioned in markets across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian Subcontinent, where it looks toward charting new routes and mobilising trade. Those regions, key sources of raw materials and semi-finished and finished products, play pivotal roles in global trade. The company’s agility and flexibility in reacting to sudden shifts in demand enable it to cater to the specific needs of regional trade with efficient solutions.

On the company’s well-rootedness in the regions it services, Till explains, “We actively seek partnerships with regional ports and authorities, creating a network that facilitates seamless cargo movement and enhances market access. In addition, we try to focus on market-specific solutions because we recognise the unique needs of each region, allowing us to develop customised solutions tailored to specific trade dynamics and customer requirements.”

Technology is at the forefront of most, if not all, industries worldwide – shipping is no exception. ESL actively leverages technology, always looking for the latest advancements, to create a seamless shipping experience for its customers. From digital automation to data analytics, the company does the heavy lifting to simplify its customers’ supply chain operations.

Expanding across borders can be difficult, and the company recognises that supply chain intricacies, which include local trade laws and tariffs, can be overwhelming to navigate, especially for local businesses. With its well-established network and partnerships with local governments, ports, and other shipping lines, ESL has continuously empowered businesses, no matter their scale.

Priding itself on being a people-first carrier, ESL delivers world-class customer service. Working with businesses across industries and dealing with various commodities, the company deeply understands how to manage their customers’ requirements.

Scaling up has and never will be done at the expense of quality service. With forging partnerships on the solid foundations of trust and transparency as their North Star, Till’s team creates customised solutions that anticipate their customers’ changing needs.

“We owe our success largely to our customers’ trust in us. Without their unwavering support, we would not be where we are today. The least we can do is provide attentive and flexible services,” said Till.

As much as customers are a priority for ESL, so is its team. Till talks about the company’s emphasis on creating an environment where his team can thrive and grow: “Breaking away from the traditional hierarchical model, we have implemented a flat organization at ESL. This means that information flows freely across all levels, and decision-making is organized. Local Managing Directors are empowered to make strategic decisions without needing constant approvals from headquarters. This fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility among employees, leading to increased engagement, motivation, and a more dynamic work environment.”

The company invests in training and development programs to unlock the ESL team’s full potential, ensuring each member has the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles. Till states, “Empowerment is a core value that permeates the entire organisation at ESL. We aim to create a company where employees feel valued, respected, and equipped to contribute their unique talents.”

With climate concerns on the rise in recent years, ESL has also been sticking to its commitment to growing trade sustainably. The team routinely checks its fleet to ensure all its vessels and processes perform optimally. Most recently, improved propellers were installed, and a switch was made to silicon-based paints. Coupling those improvements to vessel performance with streamlining operational procedures, the ESL-owned fleet has achieved a 20% reduction in carbon emissions.


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Ryan is the Digital Marketing and Content Creation Manager for Trade and Logistics Siam Ltd. He provides a creative flair to the team and his resourcefulness helps to bring an imaginative improvement to both literary archetypes and online content production. A writer by day and a rider by night, when he's not composing the latest logistics news update or creating compelling copy for our clients, Ryan spends his free time travelling Thailand by motorbike.