In the final episode of Channel 4’s current series of Undercover Boss, Gunnar Blomdahl, CEO of Stena Line, one of the world's biggest ferry companies, had the opportunity to get up close and personal with onboard staff.
The Swedish business leader had to swap his identity to that of the fictional Per Hansen, an unemployed Norwegian hotel manager trying to get back into employment.
The show is now in its fourth series and has put the spotlight on some of the UK’s leading organisations including nPower, Best Western and Paddy Power.
Gunnar said: “I was nervous because there was so much that would need to run smoothly. One big challenge was that I needed to have another identify so that I wouldn’t be recognised by the staff. My middle name is Per so we thought that it would be easier for me to respond when addressed by that name instead of something completely new. My fictional surname, Hansen, was picked because it is Norway’s most common surname. As a Norwegian the story about me working on a trial basis for Stena Line became credible.”
Stena Line has recently invested over one billion pounds on new ships, ports and upgrades including over £375M in building the two largest super ferries in the world, the Stena Hollandica and the Stena Britannica on the North Sea and over £200M on new ports in Cairnryan and Belfast along with two new Superfast ships on the Irish Sea service. Undercover Boss gave Gunnar a unique opportunity to have a closer look at how the investments are working in practice.
He added: “It was very interesting for me to get a deeper insight into how things work in our various departments onboard and I was impressed with the pride and loyalty that I encountered among our employees. What also made a big impression on me was the competence and professionalism that permeates our business. It certainly reaffirmed that a lot of what we do, we do really well, but I’ve also had the opportunity to reflect on some areas for improvement.”
One of the staff featured in the show, Kerry Williams, a temporary Onboard Services Assistant, said: “As a temporary member of crew I was delighted to have been the one that was picked and recognised for my work onboard. I was overwhelmed and couldn’t believe that the CEO wanted to work with me out of all of the crew. As a temp I never thought I would have been picked over someone from the core crew. I was stunned and found it unreal and surreal, totally overwhelming.”
Chris De Jesus, Service Crew Member on the Stena Britannica, said: “Working with Gunnar was a great experience. I felt very comfortable working with him and this made it easy for me to tell my stories to him, both personal and work related, because I knew from the way he listened that he is a good person. The moment he told me who he really was I was like ‘really’. The feeling was unexplainable and a day I will always remember.”
NOTE TO EDITOR: For further information please contact Emma Heatherington of Duffy Rafferty Communications on Belfast (028) 9073 0880.
Stena Line, an ABTA member, is an international transport and travel service company and one of the world's leading ferry operators.
Stena Line operates in three business areas: Scandinavia, the North Sea and the Irish Sea with a network of 18 strategically located ferry routes in Europe. Stena Line has a modern fleet with a total of 35 vessels including fast ferries (Stena HSS), traditional combi-ferries, RoPax ferries for freight and passengers, and pure cargo ships.
Stena Line is a stable and profitable group and is committed to providing passengers with the best service and experience possible.
During 2009, approximately 15.4 million passengers travelled with Stena Line. 3.3 million cars and 1.6 million freight units were transported during the same period.