Skip to content

Maritime HR conference blog – day 1

The first day of the Maritime HR Association annual conference – our 10th! – has been extremely varied and full of interaction. 

Bright and early, Spinnaker Global Chairman Phil Parry kicked off proceedings with a ‘Whistle-stop Tour of Modern Shipping’ giving delegates a chance to hear the essentials of why shipping is how it is today, from the Suez Crisis and launch of the container to the glorious boom years before the infamous – and very recent – shipping market crash. 

Parry said that what happens in shipping is cyclical and often predictable: there will be a period of ‘boom’ where everyone gets excited and orders new ships, and it will be followed by a crash. Time and again, this has played out. However, he said when referencing the eco-ship craze, this is the first time we’ve over-ordered twice

Appropriately, the first official session that followed was a fascinating insight into maritime economics led by Stephen Gordon of Clarksons Research. We learned that the world fleet is currently 50% bigger than since the financial crisis – there’s that theme of overzealous over-ordering again! One of the biggest orderbooks is Japan at the moment, which is one to watch. 

Gordon claimed that the shipbuilding space is due to change a lot in the next couple of years; newbuilding investment was down in 2015, and has slowed in 2016 to a 20-year low. 

However a “bright spot” was regarding ro-ro, ferries and cruise, which are, according to Gordon, having their “day in the sun” – in fact there’s currently the largest cruise orderbook in history. 

The role of the Superintendent was again a hot topic within the Maritime HR landscape with Phil Parry stating that “it takes 10 years to make a Captain, and then a few years on top of that to make a Superintendent!”

Richard Greiner from Moore Stephens and Britt Jorgensen from Clipper Group also delivered talks; from shipping confidence (which is, unsurprisingly, down) to career management training. Jorgensen pointed out that career management training at Clipper is voluntary; there’s no point forcing people to do it if their heart isn’t in it. This supports what she also said regarding careers: the employee owns the career – the manager’s role is to support it. 

Heidi Watson of Clyde & Co delivered a presentation on The Pitfalls of Poor Management, rightly pointing out that great management motivates, but poor management can create risk – and in shipping, one of the most dangerous industries in the world, that’s extremely pertinent indeed. Watson is a fan of appraisals, and all the delegates earned gold stars for having good appraisal procedures in place!

Watson also covered the legal risks when moving your workforce internationally; what factors must be considered? Not just practical, financial factors such as tax, pensions and immigration clearance, but lifestyle and personal issues too. 

Finally, Nautilus International, ITF Seafarers’ Trust and Sustainable Shipping Initiative gave an impassioned presentation on the GoodShip initiative, establishing their collaboration to ensure the improved working lives of seafarers. It was an interactive discussion where delegates all gave their insight onto how the initiative can work. 

Overall, it was a highly interactive day – the HR Consulting team have covered some serious distance running around the conference room with microphones to hear delegates’ input – and we’ve all learned a lot. We’re very much looking forward to tomorrow’s sessions. 

Big thanks to the HR Consulting team, all the speakers, and our sponsors MHG and Clyde & Co. 

Follow the tweets from the day by viewing the hashtag #MartimeHR here.
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.