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Michael Shakesheff

Michael Shakesheff – a destiny in shipping

We interview Michael Shakesheff of Casper Shipping and discover the inside scoop on his career path, and how working with schools in the UK can pave the way for future shipping superstars.

Q: How did your career in shipping take shape?

I grew up in a shipping family and whereas I pursued a career in law, qualifying as solicitor in England and Wales, I always knew that my destiny was in shipping. I practiced law for a number of years with Clifford Chance LLP, a global law firm based in London. In 2004 I made the move in to shipping joining Casper Shipping Limited.

On joining Casper Shipping I was immediately encouraged to sit my Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers examinations, initially passing my Foundation Diploma before moving on to Membership examinations. In 2011 I was promoted to Fellow and I am currently Branch Chairman for the North East of England Branch and Federation Council Member.

Casper Shipping has been an Investor in People for over 15 years and has a strong culture in education. We encourage all members of the company to sit their Institute examinations and pursue further education.

Q: How would you summarise Casper Shipping's mission in one sentence?

“Adding more to Ships Agency” – our emphasis is on excellence and exceptional customer care. Our aim is to be the leading port agency and marine services business in Europe.

With origins dating back to 1872, Casper Shipping has provided professional agency, customs and forwarding services in the UK for more than 141 years. Casper Shipping is privately owned by its management and employees who had made great strides to modernise and establish itself as a UK leader in its field.

In addition to port agency services, the company handles customs clearance, documentation, freight forwarding, chartering and has a specialist demurrage and claims department trading as ShipDem. Casper Shipping provide a dedicated Ships Spares service through our sister company Camair Freight Solutions Limited.

The Casper Shipping ethos is built around promoting professional standards in Quality, Health, Safety and Environment, staff management and development and training. Member of professional organisations including the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, FONASBA and ITIC by staff members at all levels has maintained our profile in the Port Agency Sector and Shipping Industry.

Casper Shipping carries ISO 9001 2008 and Investors in People certification. It was the first company in Europe to be audited by the Chemical Distribution Institute.

Q: What would improve the wider world's knowledge of the shipping industry?

There needs to be a greater focus on the largely invisible opportunities in shipping and shipbroking and to an extent the wider logistics industry. These are opportunities that most young people here or elsewhere in the UK are completely unaware of. This focus needs to be at school level.

Casper Shipping are a founding member of the High Tide Foundation. High Tide’s principal aim is to improve opportunities for young people here on Teesside with the focal point being the River Tees. We believe that High Tide has a much broader resonance, in that it is focussing on these “invisible” opportunities in shipping.

Q: What success stories has the High Tide Foundation achieved since its launch?

In July 2013, sixteen school leavers embarked on the summer scheme which provided each young person with valuable work experience in companies surrounding the River Tees.

The summer scheme offered each participant a two week work placement over the summer holidays – one week with two different employers. High Tide created this scheme to help young people leaving school to gain an understanding of life in the workplace, as well as the variety of careers available whilst providing them an opportunity to earn a reference they can use on their CVs. Companies who took part in this summer scheme included Agility Logistics, Casper Shipping, Containerships, Cory Brothers, Denholm Wilhelmsen, PD Ports, Richard Fox Transport and SABIC.

In addition over the summer two school leavers from Teesside set sail from Teesport on an eleven day round trip to St Petersburg via Rotterdam, Riga and Helsinki, with local based shipping line, Containerships Ltd.

The trip offered a unique insight into life on a working container ship and illustrated how important cargoes are imported and exported around the world. The students had the chance to meet the Captain and observe the daily duties experienced by crew members, as well as spending some free time taking in the sites in Rotterdam, Riga and Helsinki.

To find out more about the High Tide Foundation, visit

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