VIKANDER Profile: Russ Holmes, Director Client Engagement
Russ Holmes is dedicated to ensuring that VIKAND services and solutions anticipate cruise industry needs. He joined VIKAND in 2021 during the height of the pandemic, an exceptionally challenging time. Russ actively identified impediments to safe cruising which helped broaden VIKAND’s response, resulting in expanded VIKAND technology as well as meeting biomedical equipment logistical challenges.
Russ’ thirty years of direct maritime experience combined with his incredible passion and knowledge are unequalled and invaluable to VIKAND, clients, and industry alike. Russ is now Director-Client Engagement for the North American maritime sector. Along with his European colleague, Agnes Mathiesen who is based in Norway, Russ says, “We cover the cruise world!”
“VIKAND provides innovative total healthcare solutions,” says Russ. “By cultivating strategic connections, understanding clients’ future healthcare needs, and developing mutually proactive collaboration with partners, we are all able to achieve ever higher levels of care onboard.”
Russ entered the industry in 1993 with Mercy Ships. “I didn’t have the aim to work in the maritime industry but loved how Mercy Ships deployed their vessels to serve those in need in the developing world,” he says.
With many experiences that punctuate his time with Mercy Ships, Russ reflects, “During my tenure, I was part of the leadership team that oversaw the refit of the Africa Mercy, at the time the world’s largest charitable hospital ship. When it came to the deployment of the vessel in 2007, in my role as Operations Director, I oversaw her setup and her initial re-launch.”
Russ spent 21 years at Mercy Ships. He managed onboard operations, headed up its global supply chain and spearheaded global corporate development. His logistical responsibilities—including operating Mercy Ships’ medical facilities—have proven a natural fit for VIKAND and essential in supporting VIKAND medical teams onboard specifically, and client needs, engagement and exceeding the expectations of all generally.
Russ grew up in Sheffield, England and spent holidays at the ocean. He then lived at sea for a number of years. Recently, he moved with his wife Carrie (who he met in South Africa while serving on a Mercy Ship), and their two daughters to Cape Coral, Florida following living in Texas for 15 years.
“We all love being back close to the ocean,” says Russ. “My own journey living onboard, inland and by the sea reflects my understanding of a world that has become a very small place. Just about everywhere on our planet is now reachable and with the increase in expedition cruising, our clients take guests to all corners. Technology allows us to provide breakthrough healthcare innovations even to the most remote places throughout the globe. It’s an exciting time to be in the maritime industry!”
Professionally, Russ is known for his ability to face challenges head on. “There is a common phrase ‘change is here to stay’. I think this can be said of the maritime industry and my role, and VIKAND’s, in supporting our cruise clients. Every day is different and there is always something going on that needs my attention, ensuring VIKAND’s dedicated care for our clients’ guests and crew.
“The key to making all this work is ‘communication’,” he says. “We have so many tools available at our fingertips to communicate these days. To me, nothing beats a phone call or a face-to-face meeting. I prefer to solve issues without email.”
When not emailing, Russ, Carrie and their daughters enjoy the quick jet ski frolic on the Gulf of Mexico, its white sand beaches and exploring international destinations.