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The Spinnaker interview: Guy Platten

At Spinnaker, we are all about people. Whether it’s placing candidates in jobs, working hard for our clients, or helping members with salary benchmarking, people are our business. Talking to people is what we do. So we caught up with Guy Platten, Secretary General International Chamber of Shipping, to get to the heart of why he ended up in maritime, his predictions for the future of the industry, and whether he’s a glass half empty or glass half full kind of Guy…

Guy Platten, Secretary General, International Chamber of Shipping

Q: Why shipping?

I looked at a number of different careers but the brochure for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary painted an exciting life and on the back page there was a drawing of a cadet walking hand in hand with a beautiful girl on a tropical beach along with pictures of cadets doing adventurous things with the caption ‘It’s not all work’. I suspect this would not be allowed nowadays but it certainly helped make my final decision (I was only 17 at the time!)

Q: What makes you want to go to work in the morning?

Working with great colleagues and knowing that we are making a difference in our industry.

Q: What is your career highlight?

There have been so many highlights but the one that sticks out is carrying out the investigation to an RNLI service call from the Lerwick Lifeboat to a ship called the MV GREEN LILY (at one point in my career I was Inspector of Lifeboats for Scotland) which resulted in the coxswain Hewitt Clarke being awarded the Gold Medal of the RNLI, the highest award for bravery the organisation gives.

This was in 1997 and is still the last Gold Medal to be awarded. Sadly this service also resulted in the loss of a helicopter winchman (the rescue helicopter was assisting the evacuation) but overall the entire crew was saved in horrendous weather conditions. Just interviewing all the people involved and piecing together what happened was such a privilege before writing it all up.

Q: What do you see for the next 5 years?

An exceptionally busy time for the industry as the decarbonisation agenda accelerates. We are going through transformational times, but we must ensure this is a just transition and we bring our people with us on the journey – especially the crews.

Q: If you had to buy a ship tomorrow, what would you buy?

I would shy away from that!

Q: What’s the biggest challenge facing the industry today?

Decarbonisation without a doubt. We call it the 4th Propulsion Revolution.

Q: Would you recommend a shipping career?

Absolutely – I would never have guessed how it would turn out. I clearly remember joining my first ship as a cadet and never thought I would end up doing this job! Incredibly rewarding career with so many paths available to go down.

 A bit about you…

  1. Ketchup or mustard? Mustard
  2. Half empty or half full? Half full
  3. Spender or saver? Saver
  4. Walk or run? Run
  5. What book should everyone read? The Lighthouse Stevensons by Bella Bathurst
  6. Best ever investment? My children
  7. What advice would you give to your 21 year old self? It will all be ok in the end!
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