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The resilience of shipping

Rumblings under the surface of the global economy. Equity and bond prices rising in tandem. The yield curve inverted; ten-year debt cheaper than two. The US central bank ploughing USD$53 billion emergency funds into the repo market.  COVID-19 becomes a global pandemic.

Crisis mode

Everything, and everyone, goes into crisis mode.

Over seven months since the first case of coronavirus being confirmed in the UK, four months since the announcement of lockdown, and still working from home as I write this, crisis has turned to resilience.

The preservation of cash flow is even more paramount, the availability of discretionary spend significantly reduced. 

Action to be taken.

Business development continues. Services are still required. Deals are happening. Just not at the same rate. One big difference, the interactions- the reaching out, feels more humane. A change of perception and values?

It is apparent going through crisis, companies and individuals want advice. Advice on business, systems, processes, and governance. Be it financial, technological, or operational. They want to build resilience.

Prior to this new normal, company IT investment was ramping up. Information still not on the cloud, paper only systems, lack of investment in ERP and proper financial systems. Companies without it were and are struggling.

The way we work is changing. There is, and will continue to be, less international travel. A greater reluctance, and an increased justification to do so. 

Webinar is the new seminar.

As regulations increase and tighten, windows of opportunity to make mistakes narrow. In a volatile time, fingers get pointed, blame apportioned.

“The nature of leadership is you have to make decisions with limited information under the complete awareness that there is a significant degree of likelihood that you might get this wrong. A decision has to be made.” – Isaac Levido

Is it the time to invest in systems, processes, and people? Counter-intuitive maybe. Going beyond “survival mode”.

Companies providing a value-added service will continue and will succeed. That was the same as before.

It is now even more important. It is no longer just getting by.

COVID-19 has seen companies streamline operations but has brought complexity. Crew changes for example.

Organisations seek better management, better reporting, better decision making for local and global operations. There is a need for different skills from different people.

Change is coming.

There is an evident reduction in companies hiring, following furlough & job retention schemes, restructuring, and downsizing. A similar reluctance is present in individuals wanting to move. It is expected. This will change.

The maritime industry is resilient and cyclical. Stories of the past, downturns, and upswings.

But who has been through a global pandemic of this scale?

Self-motivated individuals who can utilise different insights become of greater interest. As will the ability to absorb and analyse new information, change direction. And those who can migrate their experience, will become most valuable.

Base level of experience and qualifications will still be needed. But it will become much more about the person, matching culture, understanding the task at hand, over the intrinsic knowledge.

Hiring talent will become more subjective than objective. Recruitment will become harder.

The rise in artificial intelligence will see a change in skill sets. But it will be people, working alongside technology that will become a company’s biggest asset. 

This is not new. It can take a crisis to re-address values.

Would this have happened anyway? 

Yes. Crisis is a catalyst.

Right now, what everyone is looking for is answers to an unanswerable question. We can only predict and assume.

One thing we do know is that whilst the population continues to grow and 90% of world trade is on board vessels, shipping will survive.

David Tubb Spinnaker

David Tubb, Director, Recruitment, Spinnaker. Follow David on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

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