When Travel Agent interviewed Peter Shanks, the new president and managing director of Cunard Line for a story running our August 17, 2009 issue, we asked him about the recent leadership switch at Cunard. Why did Shanks take the helm at Cunard with Carol Marlow, who had headed the line for five years, as she moved to become managing director of sister brand P&O Cruises?
Industry sources including Shanks cite Carnival Corp.’s long-time approach of deploying good leaders across multiple brands and moving them around to develop their expertise and experience. It’s also a way to keep the brands fresh.
For example, Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs at Holland America Line, was previously president of Seabourn Cruise Line. Pamela C. Conover, Seabourn’s current president and CEO, previously was president and CEO of Cunard as well as a corporate officer of Carnival Corp. Shanks himself previously served as a chief commercial officer of Carnival UK.
Simply put, Carnival Corp. is known for developing really strong leaders with strong brand skills, notes Shanks. He says the recent shifts will allow both himself and Marlow “to lead as strongly as possible.”
He believes “Carol has done a terrific job giving focus to Cunard” and that she’ll apply those skills to bring fresh impetus to the P&O brand, which serves a predominantly British clientele. “We’re very fortunate to have two of the longest, most established brands in the world, and certainly in the U.K.,” Shanks stressed.
Asked if he was ever offered the P&O job, Shanks responded that it was clear to both executives right from the start that the executive appointments as they were ultimately made were the way to go. “Everyone was on the same view,” he says.