Sweeping Management Changes at ABS

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June 1, 2011

(Houston, TX—) A sweeping series of management appointments at ABS, effective 1 July, will position a new generation of executives who will help define the role and scope of class in the future.  These moves closely follow the appointment of Christopher J. Wiernicki as the new Chief Executive Officer.  The appointments, in concert with the recent naming of Todd Grove as Chief Technology Officer, John McDonald as President and COO for ABS Europe Division and Demetri Stroubakis as Senior Vice President of Global Operations for the Nautical Systems Division will result in new senior management in all five divisions, as well as Technology and Engineering services.

“Without question, ABS is a different organization today than it was twenty years ago,” noted Wiernicki.  “While the role of class has always been evolving, the pace of change is accelerating and we need to ensure that ABS is defining the role of the class society of the future and not merely reacting to this new environment.  Today’s playing field is being framed by regulatory initiatives, new technologies and customers who want their preferred class society to be better integrated within their operational and safety programs.  ABS has to be positioned to effectively and efficiently assist the marine industry and our clients manage risk and improve performance within a more clearly defined safety framework.  This alignment is important because it is directly related to our mission of promoting safety in the marine and offshore industries.”

Wiernicki points out that the latest technologies are providing new methods of delivering services, new ways of collecting and analyzing data and new tools for conducting advanced structural and technical analyses.  “Our new leadership team is not just comfortable with these emerging technologies, but excited about the possibilities they provide to better serve the industry.  Furthermore, this team has the requisite international experience that is critical to ABS providing quality and consistent service across our operating sphere.”

Joining Wiernicki’s new management team is Robert Gilman who will take over as President and COO of ABS Americas Division from Thomas Gilmour who will transition to a role as Vice President, Global Marketing prior to his retirement in late 2011.  Gilman has been serving as Vice President, Global Operations in ABS’ Worldwide Headquarters in Houston and has management experience from previous assignments in Europe and the US.

Assisting Gilman will be Derek Novak, who will assume the position of Vice President, Operations and Matt Tremblay who will replace Novak as Vice President, Engineering for the ABS Americas Division.

The new President and COO of the ABS Pacific Division will be Eric Kleess who will relocate to Singapore from Houston where he has been serving as Vice President, Operations for the ABS Americas Division.  Assisting Kleess as Senior Vice President, Operations will be Stephen Auger who has extensive management experience in Korea, the Middle East and the US.

Taking over as President and COO of the ABS Greater China Division will be Richard Pride who has been serving as Vice President, Operations in the division.  Pride has extensive experience in China in addition to previous assignments in Europe and Asia.  Assisting Pride as Vice President, Operations for the ABS Greater China Division will be Paul Karam, currently Vice President, Northern Pacific Region within the ABS Pacific Division.

In the ABS Europe Division, John McDonald recently assumed the position of President and COO.  Since McDonald had been serving as Vice President, Northern Europe and Africa, the change in leadership has been seamless.  McDonald’s management team is headed up by Karel Van Campenhout, Senior Vice President, Operations who has extensive experience in the region.  The position of Vice President, Northern Europe was recently assumed by John Gallagher who has more than three decades of operating experience.

The ABS Nautical Systems Division continues to be led by Karen Hughey, President and COO.  Through the appointment of Demetri Stroubakis as Senior Vice President, Global Operations the organization is increasing its focus on service delivery for its expanding client base.

Mark McGrath, currently President and COO of the ABS Pacific Division, will transfer to ABS’ Worldwide Headquarters to serve as the Corporate Training Officer.  “As a service organization, the factor that has always set ABS apart from its competitors is the experience and knowledge base of our employees,” said Wiernicki.  “Mark will be responsible for expanding and enhancing training initiatives so ABS personnel are prepared to not only meet, but exceed client expectations.  Mark has more than three decades of marine and offshore experience in building, repair and operations – he knows what the owners, operators and yards need and we plan to leverage that experience throughout our training programs.  Consistently providing quality services by the best trained surveyors and engineers in the industry will continue to be our hallmark.”

Adam Moilanen, currently President of the Greater China Division, will transfer to ABS’ Worldwide Headquarters as Vice President and Chief of Staff.  In this role Moilanen will be responsible for providing strategic direction for special projects and overseeing key client initiatives.

In order to drive ABS’ quality management initiatives, Robert Giuffra has been appointed to serve as Senior Vice President, Quality and Service.  “The essence of our quality management system is to provide the framework for delivering consistently outstanding levels of service,” said Wiernicki.  “Service delivery continues to be one of the most important differentiators between class societies. This new appointment will give Bob the opportunity to focus on improving ABS’ quality system so the society can deliver an unparalleled level of service.”

Dr. Kirsi Tikka, currently Vice President, Global Technology and Business Development will assume the position of Vice President and Chief Engineer for ABS.  Prior to her current position, Tikka served as Vice President, Engineering for the ABS Europe Division.  “This experience gives Kirsi a thorough understanding of the technical and operational needs of our clients,” said Wiernicki.  “Her background in structural engineering will provide the leadership needed as our clients order larger and more sophisticated vessels such as the new generation of 20,000 teu containerships, floating LNG terminals and ultra deepwater drillships.”

Tikka will continue to lead the ABS Environmental Solutions Group.  “Many of the innovative solutions under consideration involve a rethinking of the fundamental architecture of the ship in order to improve fuel efficiency, reduce emissions and minimize the carriage of ballast water requiring treatment,” added Wiernicki.  “These issues will need to be addressed by our engineering staff.  By retaining her environmental responsibilities, Tikka will be centrally positioned to provide the necessary leadership in developing a coordinated organizational approach.”

Founded in 1862, ABS is a leading international classification society devoted to promoting the security of life, property and the marine environment through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities.


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