Future of Ships, Shipping and Environmental Sustainability Conference

The Future of Ships, Shipping and Environmental Sustainability Conference is the IMarEST’s member-led conference, which brings together the engineering, science and technology community.

The one-day conference will include a range of sessions, speakers and experts from across the marine sector.

Taking place at the Leonardo Royal Hotel Southampton Grand Harbour on 9 July, the conference will feature plenary keynotes and panels, organised into three streams under the headings of Technology, Human Contribution and Environment.

You’ll be hearing from speakers from the London School of Economics, BMT, DNV, Lloyd’s Register, BIMCO and the UK Engineering Council, as well as international universities and marine leaders.

By attending multiple sessions, attendees can build their own agenda, tailored to their personal needs and professional goals.

Find out more/book tickets here.

Hot Jobs – Top 10 maritime vacancies – June 2024

For over 25 years, Spinnaker has been assisting shipowners, shipmanagers, oil majors, and P&I clubs in fulfilling their maritime recruitment requirements. Every day, we receive a constant influx of new job openings, all conveniently listed on our website. To simplify your job search, we have handpicked a collection of the ten most sought-after positions available right now. Get in touch if you’re interested but do it quickly as they won’t be around for long!

A full list of current vacancies can be found on our website:

Marine Disputes Associate – London/Remote

Our client, an international law firm is seeking a Shipping Disputes lawyer in London or you can have the opportunity to work remotely. The firm is busy with repeat instructions, so you can expect autonomy to run your own cases from the outset and the opportunity to travel to meet clients internationally.

View Job – Marine Disputes Associate

Marine Underwriter – London, UK

In this role, you will undertake business development (developed relationships with shipowners, insurance brokers and business partners), underwriting for new business, managing accounts, and liaising with claims handlers, technical staff and other teams. Knowledge of loss of hire, war insurance and P&I for charterers & owners would be advantageous.

View Job – Marine Underwriter

Director (P&I Claims) – Newcastle, UK

We are seeking an experienced Director and qualified solicitor (England & Wales) to lead and manage a marine team for a specialist shipping law firm in Newcastle. The ideal Solicitor must have 8+ years PQE and must have covered all types of marine matters, with extensive experience dealing with P&I and FD&D claims.

View Job – Director (P&I Claims)

Chem/Product Tanker Operator – London, UK

We are currently working with an international shipowner with an expanding fleet that are on the lookout for an experienced Tanker Operator with Chems/ Product Tanker experience to join their team in London. This position has arisen off the back of fleet expansion with several new Chem/ Product Tankers being delivered which they intend this hire to take responsibility for.

View Job – Chem/Product Tanker Operator

Freight Trader – Singapore

Work with other team members based in Switzerland and India and ensure they have accurate and timely information. Continuously evaluate the market conditions and sharing findings and recommendations with the rest of the team. Evaluate vessels and price voyage freight and negotiate freight contracts. Maintain existing and develop new relationships with clients, brokers, agents, owners and charterers. Closely follow the performance of voyages and work closely with the Operations Department based in Switzerland and India

View Job – Freight Trader

Senior Solicitor (FD&D Claims) – London, UK

In this role, you will be reporting to the Head of FD&D Claims and other colleagues to support any business development, you will assist with audits, prepare agendas and reports, and supervise and manage colleagues within the FD&D team. This role will entail supporting the Head of Claims to build and maintain a high performing team.

View Job – Senior Solicitor (FD&D Claims)

Operations Executive (Dry Bulk) – Dubai, UAE

We are seeking a motivated and experienced Operations Executive to join a team in Dubai. In this role, you will be responsible for overseeing and handling daily vessel operations, ensuring voyages are planned and executed efficiently, saving costs and time, and leading to optimal fleet turnaround.

View Job – Operations Executive (Dry Bulk)

Team Head Post Fixtures Operations – Dubai, UAE

We are seeking an experienced and highly skilled Team Head to oversee all aspects of post-fixture shipping operations for tanker and bulk vessels. This is a crucial leadership role responsible for managing a team of professionals, ensuring contractual compliance, optimizing vessel performance, and maintaining strong relationships with key stakeholders.

View Job – Team Head Post-Fixture Operations

Chartering Executive (Dry Bulk) – Dubai, UAE

We are seeking an experienced and driven Chartering Executive to join a Dry Bulk team in Dubai. In this critical role, you will be responsible for identifying and capitalizing on profitable chartering opportunities in the spot market, negotiating favorable charter contracts, and optimizing vessel allocation.

View Job – Chartering Executive (Dry Bulk)

Dry Shipping Analyst – Dubai, UAE

We are seeking an experienced Shipping Analyst to join an established team in Dubai. In this critical role, you will provide essential insights and analysis on developments, changes, and trends in the bulk shipping market to assist the commercial team in strategic planning.

View Job – Dry Shipping Analyst

For more information on any of the jobs above, please email Spinnaker.

View these jobs, and more on our website.

Lookback to Maritime People & Culture Conference

Having attended for many years, The Spinnaker Maritime People and Culture Conference is always a highlight in the event calendar for me and this year was no exception.

Building on the quality of previous years, Phil Parry oversaw a value-packed programme of exceptional speakers and eye-opening talking points that spilt over into the coffee break and social events. It’s always been a special event in that it brings together a very concentrated audience of Maritime HR and Crewing community, but as the realisation grows in our industry, that our ship’s crew and shore staff are the key to delivering our ambitious goals, The Spinnaker Maritime and People Conference has grown in relevance, providing crucial insights for today’s maritime HR professionals and business leaders.

The Only Constant is Change.

Undeniably the most ambitious of those goals is decarbonisation. New fuels, new ships, and new ways of modifying the existing fleet will all play their part in decarbonising our industry. Each step along the way will impact our maritime professionals.

Trade routes will continue to change, whether that’s because of the economics of cargo supply and demand, the availability of specific bunker fuels, geopolitics, regulations such as EU ETS, or climate change impacting the suitability of routes and availability of certain ports.

The rapid pace of technological advancements and regulatory changes is outstripping traditional training models. Few professionals are equipped with the knowledge to handle new technologies, and even fewer have hands-on experience. This calls for an urgent reassessment of how we prepare maritime professionals for the future.

Adapt, Evolve, Overcome

The current training and development models aren’t set up for the future. We can no longer rely on yesterday’s seafarers training the seafarer of tomorrow.

Joining the panel on future seafaring we discussed how the dual challenge and opportunities of digitalisation and decarbonisation will call for a new model, one in which we take advantage of learning technologies to train at scale. With change as a constant we will all need to embrace lifelong learning and encourage a change from push to pull where learners understand how the learning benefits them

I also pointed out that technological change is outpacing regulation. To ensure that our maritime professionals are equipped to work safely and effectively, it is vital that those creating the training are in the room with those drafting the regulation and the manufacturers developing new technology. This collaborative approach ensures that training materials evolve in tandem with technological advancements and regulatory changes.

Building Sustainable Businesses

Creating a sustainable business goes beyond environmental considerations; it involves understanding and addressing the unique needs of a diverse workforce. Implementing policies and support frameworks to nurture this diversity unlocks a wider talent pool, fostering innovation and increasing job satisfaction.

The key is to recognise individualism and have systems in place that are flexible enough to respond to individual needs.

Businesses can achieve by through the four-pillared approach shared by Heidi Watson:

  1. Create an open and supportive culture
  2. Raise awareness
  3. Train line managers
  4. Take an individualised approach to recruitment and management

Everyone has unconscious biases and having them does not make you an inherently bad person. Awareness of these biases is key; seeking them out in yourself and in your business systems and addressing them is the most important step to making positive change.

Unlocking Hidden Value & Talent

In the afternoon I joined Nick Chubb from Thetius in presenting a compelling case for adopting human capital management approaches in maritime. Despite the common assertion that people are a company’s greatest asset, salaries are often viewed as liabilities. Research Thetius conducted with Ocean Technologies Group provides a framework that helps businesses make better decisions about investing in people and processes, emphasising the true value of human capital.

We firmly believe, that adopting human capital management can transform how businesses perceive and leverage their workforce. By treating employees as valuable assets rather than costs, companies can unlock potential, drive innovation, and improve overall performance. This approach promotes a deeper understanding of employee strengths and areas for development, enabling more targeted and effective training programs as part of a culture of continuous improvement and engagement.

Women in Maritime

Promoting gender diversity in maritime is something close to our heart at Ocean Technologies Group. To attract more women into the industry, it is important to provide visible role models for young women and highlight and share the stories of female trailblazers, As Claudine Sharp-Patel said, “Women need to see it to know they can be it”.

But it was the session from Torild Boe Stokes that really caught my attention when she addressed the rarely spoken about challenges of midlife and the topic specific to women of perimenopause. With 77% of women unaware of their perimenopause symptoms, businesses and HR professionals must foster awareness and support. Symptoms like sleep disturbances and cognitive changes can start in women as early as their 40s and can significantly impact mental well-being, making it essential for businesses and HR professionals, to foster awareness and support.

Building robust support frameworks is crucial to retaining experienced and skilled female employees, promoting diversity, and ensuring a healthy work environment. Fostering an inclusive culture that encourages open discussions about health issues will empower women to seek the support they need without fear of stigma.

Embracing the Future

The maritime industry faces an uncertain future filled with change. While we cannot control all external factors, we can control how we prepare by building systems that support diverse teams and individuals.

By taking a more personalised approach to employee development, and adopting human capital management approaches to recognise and address individual needs and career aspirations, enables businesses can build the teams and retain the talent they need to meet the challenges of tomorrow. This, in turn, translates to higher job satisfaction and reduced turnover rates, both of which are critical for long-term success.

By investing in our people and creating systems that support continuous learning and adaptation, we can navigate the challenges ahead and build a resilient and innovative maritime sector.

As always I’m grateful to the fantastic team at Spinnaker for providing the platform in which these valuable discussions can take place.

Article written by Raal Harris, Chief Creative Officer, Ocean Technologies Group

OSCAR Dragon Boat Race 2024 – Date announced!

Come and join us for the 9th OSCAR Dragon Boat Race on Friday 13 September 2024!

The OSCAR Campaign has raised nearly £3 million for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH). The OSCAR Campaign’s namesake is Oscar Parry, son of Spinnaker Chairman Phil Parry. Oscar was treated for two types of leukaemia from age 3 to age 8. He had two bone marrow transplants – the second trialling an entirely new theory, experimental stem cell transplant, 5 brain haemorrhages. Now 23, Oscar is a living example of the value of bench-to-bedside research and treatment.

To enter the OSCAR Dragon Boat Race all you need to do is get a team of 11 people together (10 rowers and 1 drummer) – it’s as simple as that!

You will compete against other companies from the shipping industry at the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre at the event in September.

It’s great fun and you’ll also raise money for seriously ill children at Great Ormond Street on behalf of the OSCAR Campaign.

What does the event involve?

Up to 30 teams compete against one other and the top six teams battle it out in a final.
There is a bar, food, quayside games and activities to get everyone in the mood.
It’s an excellent networking event and good fun. Most importantly, no training is required for those who want to race.

Teams in 2023

Oldendorff, Union Maritime, A.M.Nomikos, NorthStandard , Oceonix, JP Morgan, Munich Re, ONE (Ocean Network Express), Thomas Miller, Cheniere, CoolCo, Lomar Shipping, Steamship Mutual, Miller Insurance, UK P&I, Conyers, Britannia P&I, Tysers, Navigator Gas and two teams for the Baltic Exchange.

Location

Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre, 235A Westferry Road, Isle of Dogs, London E14 3QS

Fundraising

The registration fee is £500 and we ask you to commit to raising an additional £5,000 through sponsorship.

Why sign up?

  • Network with people in the shipping industry
  • Enjoy a fun day out with the team
  • Food and drink supplied
  • Make a real, tangible difference to lives of seriously ill children from across the world
  • You’ll have a great time!

Register your interest

Please email Phil Parry
Register your team
The OSCAR Campaign

Charting the Course: Shipping’s Crucial Role in Securing a Thriving Ocean Future

Awaken New Depths. This year’s World Ocean Day theme encourages us to reflect on the state of our world’s oceans and dive beneath the surface to explore new depths of understanding, compassion, collaboration and commitment. Covering 70% of the planet, the oceans are instrumental to life on Earth. With over 100,000 ships navigating them, the shipping industry has a pivotal role in securing a thriving ocean ecosystem for future generations and enabling a sustainable global blue economy.

We are currently facing a triple planetary crisis – climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss – due to human activity over the last few decades. One thing is clear, change must happen. Amongst this growing call for action, it is pertinent that we reflect on the importance of the action of our industry and our oceans, and how the two are interlinked. Oceans produce over 50% of the planet’s oxygen and absorb around 30% of carbon dioxide – they are central to human flourishing and play a key role in mitigating the impacts of climate change. Furthermore, over 3 billion people rely on the ocean for their livelihood, and the oceans are home to marine life and ecosystems, with around 12,000 new species being discovered each year. It is easy to take what we know for granted, but our oceans need our help, and we cannot turn a blind eye.

Sailing the world’s oceans and carrying around 90% of traded goods over waves, shipping has a crucial role to play, with daily operations impacting this crucial habitat. Shipping has the responsibility to not only minimise pollution but also the responsibility to support ocean biodiversity and help gather data to better understand this ecosystem. Halfway through the UN Ocean Decade, shipping can grasp a new opportunity – to become a leading industry when it comes to operating with the ocean and to lead on the creation of a sustainable blue economy.

But the picture wasn’t always this clear. In 2010, the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) was founded with the mission to gather leading and like-minded industry players and catalyse action towards a sustainable shipping industry. Since then, SSI has worked hard to introduce the industry to emerging sustainability issues and concepts, from biofuels to biodiversity, circularity to just and equitable transition. These aspects do not exist in silos, and SSI’s holistic perspective of targeting sustainability has led to the creation of the Roadmap to a Sustainable Shipping Industry, which showcased the interconnectedness of various goals and united the industry around a common vision.

Created in 2016 and updated in 2020, the Roadmap lays out pathways and defines tangible milestones for shipping to achieve as a collective over the coming decades, targeting issues including the need for rapid decarbonisation by 2050 to labour and human rights risks faced by seafarers worldwide. The Roadmap makes sustainability achievable by breaking concepts down into six different vision areas – each with its own set of objectives, desired outcomes, and interrelated milestones: Oceans, Communities, People, Transparency, Finance, and Energy.

At the start of the year, SSI announced the launch of a new programme, the State of Sustainable Shipping (SoSS). The SoSS programme builds on the Roadmap to a Sustainable Shipping Industry, by providing comprehensive and timely insights into the industry’s progress against the six vision areas. It uses a mix of digital, research, and strategic foresight methods to track and challenge this performance. SoSS will share knowledge, identify transformative pathways, and catalyse action by enabling more effective decision-making by maritime value chain actors, allowing maritime stakeholders to prioritise investments effectively and encourage systemic change on the most pressing issues.

The Roadmap is a living document and in our current focus on the Ocean vision area, we have identified a new theme of biodiversity. Building on this, we are focusing on ways to integrate biodiversity into decarbonisation initiatives for co-benefits and synergies – a win for both climate action and biodiversity.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 81 and the United Nations agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), otherwise known as the High Seas Treaty, have pointed to a general upward trend of climate action, from decarbonisation to biodiversity. Our oceans are at the forefront of climate change impacts, but they are also part of the solution. On this front, collective action and collaboration are even more pivotal towards progress. Ocean action is climate action, and it will benefit us all.

Shipping has an opportunity to pave the way for other industries, showcasing how the industry can be uplifted to mitigate negative impacts and to support a thriving ocean ecosystem that helps us combat climate change and meet the Paris Climate Agreement. Humanity is heading into unchartered waters, but we have the power to ensure that we are on the right side of history and to steer the ship towards the side of prosperity, sustainability, and resilience.

SSI is a catalyst for change in the maritime industry, working to drive progress in sustainability. If you want to get involved, reach out to [email protected] and fill out this survey.

World Ocean Day – What are the maritime industry doing?

World Ocean Day is on the 8th May and this year, they are launching a new multi-year action theme entitled Catalyzing Action for Our Ocean & Climate. By growing the movement through transformative collaboration, they aim to not only create a healthy blue planet, but create a more sustainable and equitable society we live in.

We thought, we would share some of what the Maritime Shipping Companies are doing to be more sustainable in their work. This all stems from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that consists of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set by the United Nations. Take a read of what companies and organisations are currently in line with the SDGS and making headways to being more sustainable and in turn saving the oceans.

What are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals?

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health and well-being
  4. Quality education
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequalities
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
  17. Partnership for the goals

What are companies doing?

Sinay

Sinay have committed to respecting 5 of the 17 SDGs. These are SDG 6, 9, 11, 13 and 14. SDG 6 and 14 being the key ones to focus on for World Ocean day as this ensured that the human impact on aquatic life is minimal and that ocean pollution is reduced.

Maersk

Maersk have made significant efforts to align with the UN SDGS and have set targets of reducing their CO2 emissions and improving fuel efficiency with a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. They aim to achieve this by investing in development of zero-emission vessels and exploring alternative fuels.

Cargill

Cargill have the aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect biodiversity and promote responsible sourcing. These initiatives align with SDG 2 and 15.

Carnival Corporation

Carnival’s focus is on reducing emissions, increasing energy efficiency and improving waste management. In turn, these align with SDG 13 and 14 focusing on climate action and life below water.

Stena Lines

Stena Line have already invested in energy efficient vessels, and worked on emission reducing technologies, which meets the SDGs 7 and 13.

Norden

Norden have set clear goals to reduce their carbon emissions, improve energy efficiency and invest in cleaner technologies. They are a company that are very open about their sustainability initiatives and regularly update on their progress and how they meet SDGs.

Find out more about SDGs on the UN website.

The Changing Word of Commercial Recruitment

We asked our resident Commercial expert Matt Cornelius about the ever-changing world of the commercial market. Having been in the industry for 13 years, Matt has seen it change, through a global recession, navigating a global pandemic, global conflict and interrupted trade routes. We asked Matt a few questions to get a better insight into how the commercial market is,recruitment trends and issues within the market at the moment.

Has there been an increase in requirements for people in certain locations?

The main areas where we have seen an increased demand have been Dubai which certainly seems to be the growth market both in terms of companies establishing a presence here and an increase in demand of people looking to move here. Germany has also picked up a bit over the last year in terms of active roles we have which had fallen away for a considerable period.

Are you being asked to meet any diversity targets? Are people struggling to meet these targets?

A lot of clients are generally looking to have more diverse teams which I think is a good thing. I’m not personally being asked to meet diversity targets but clients do advise when they are looking to create a more diverse team in which case I will take their wishes onboard when assessing candidates.

In certain locations achieving diversity can be quite tricky and in certain job types it might be a challenge to have a truly diverse range of candidates still.

Are there any new skills people are asking for/skills more in demand than others?

There has certainly been an increase in demand for those that have experience delivering sustainable initiatives across all areas of shipping. Vessel Operators seem perennially in high demand.

How are companies navigating ex-pats and the cost-of-living crisis etc.?

Whereas Singapore used to be a location we moved lots of candidates to, it’s become so difficult to get an employment pass that a lot of our clients are only requesting candidates with PR or Singaporean nationals. Even those on an employment pass and working in Singapore tend to be overlooked currently which must be a worry for those working on an employment pass.

Salaries have generally gone up quite a bit over the last 18-24 months. I know clients in the UK as an example that haven’t hired for a while when they see the salary expectations of candidates now for certain job types vs the last time they might have hired for that role. It makes it really important to stay on top of what is happening in the market salary wise as several companies have been caught out not adjusting salaries and then losing several key staff members in quick succession. It can happen quite suddenly when demand is high.

It’s of course now more of a challenge for those looking to move into the UK in the post Brexit era and likewise British nationals looking to move to other European locations have been faced with difficulties. This has had a major impact on some of our UK clients who could previously hire people from wider European locations and now tend to just focus on talent in the UK.

As a side note, work from home policy is obviously now a much more discussed topic and can be a deciding factor for many people in terms of whether they will apply for a role and we’ve seen a real mixed stance from clients with some giving employees a lot of freedom to work from home and others reverting back to a 5 days from office approach. It’s interesting as for some candidates it has become one of the paramount issues to them and some clients have the opinion that ‘if that is what is important to them then they are not for us’ and we are often caught in the middle seeing both perspectives! Because we saw such drastic change over a short period of time, I think some clients have not really known what to do or what the best course of action is and I think the way forward in this respect is still a little foggy.

Captains and chief engineers aren’t superhuman – they don’t have all the answers

Industry is failing to support its senior seafarers and their crew as it lacks efficient systems for sharing best practices and knowledge across organisations, delegates at Spinnaker’s Maritime People & Culture Conference in London heard

The session highlighted the significant generational divide between senior and junior crew as a key challenge and, especially, insufficient emotional intelligence and leadership skills among captains to effectively motivate and communicate with their crew.

Charles Watkins of Mental Health Support Solutions, an organisation focused on promoting mental health and wellbeing in the maritime industry, shared an example of an old East European captain who believed that “no feedback is the best feedback,” contrasting with the younger generation’s expectation for clear instructions, appreciation and the ability to ask questions. This divide leads to a lack of trust and support, hindering effective communication and collaboration.

There was also recognition of challenges faced by junior captains in their first or second year in the post and the paradox that while they value communication when climbing the ranks, they often face a kind of paralysis when communicating with their crew. All will want to project individual strength and deliver results, at the same time, they will not want to express worries and concerns to the crew, through fear it might be seen as inappropriate or create toxicity on board. This led to a discussion on how 95% of a captain’s training is typically about 5% of their role: how they steer, moor, load and unload their vessel. Very little relates to how to be a good leader.

Founder of The Captain’s Coach, a coaching and mentoring service aimed at supporting maritime professionals, particularly ship captains and senior officers, John Beavis said this underlined the importance of investing in leadership development programmes that help captains “mirror, match, relate and communicate” with their crew, to foster a more supportive and effective work environment.

Captains also need to heighten their emotional intelligence when it comes to their own welfare. “We coached a very well-known cruise ship captain, with a huge social media following, that meant to some extent guests were choosing to sail with him over the cruise line brand,” he said. “The company were worried about him burning out because he’s been operating at such a high intensity throughout his career. When we started discussing emotional intelligence with him, it was like opening a whole new world. It’s about finding balance. Captains need to be self-aware and able to step back, view the bigger picture, and delegate rather than trying to manage every detail themselves.”

Mr Beavis said meaningful training helps captains maintain their energy levels at around 7 to 8 out of 10 throughout their contract, “so they don’t feel broken or emotionally wrecked. When they go home, they should be in good shape to be with their loved ones, and when they’re on board, they should be more stable and focused; a calming influence on the bridge, in the engineroom, or when dealing with guests on a cruise ship.”

Discussion of energy levels raised the issue of sleep deprivation on board. “When we consider rest and sleep, as many of you working in the industry know, the information is not always communicated honestly,” said Mr Watkins. “In our partnership with Canberra Sea, we have access to data from smart sensors that measure strain, stress, and sleep among seafarers. The data shows that while shore-based workers get around 7-9 hours of sleep, seafarers only get about 4-5 hours of sleep. Regardless of the source, it’s widely accepted that 7-8 hours of sleep is crucial for health. This means that seafarers are not getting enough sleep and are working under conditions that differ from the norm, with a different standard applied to them.

“Captains and leaders are expected to take on numerous additional tasks, with a significant digital component to their jobs. They come to us struggling to manage and balance their sleep, as this is just as challenging as their other responsibilities. They are constantly answering emails, going to the office, and are expected to be good leaders for their crew while also navigating the ship and maintaining their own well-being.”

Mr Watkins was quick to highlight “the demands placed on seafarers are continually increasing, and there is a need for extensive training to keep pace with the technical aspects of the job, but also address the emotional and psychological challenges faced by seafarers.” This training, he said, should equip seafarers with the necessary skills to manage their well-being, communicate effectively, and adapt to the changing expectations and requirements of their roles.

As well as age barriers, there can be cultural barriers that impact smooth communication too. Even with the most robust assurances around confidentiality, some cultures may hesitate to speak up, making it difficult to assist if there is an issue.

So what is the answer? Head of corporate engagement at Stella Maris, Ian Stokes, said his charity helps senior crew members in two main ways. “They appreciate having ship visitors and chaplains on board because we assist the crew with transport, financial issues, and simply being someone to talk to. We also provide practical support by taking them ashore, connecting them with their families, and purchasing items they can’t get delivered to the ship. By helping the crew, we indirectly support the captain. We also support captains directly by giving them some time back, such as ferrying them to a barber for a quick hair cut when they come into port, are on a tight schedule, and want to be in and out as quickly as possible.”

For Mr Watkins, in changing times there is one old component that remains constant: “People expect, need and want safety, including psychological safety. Safety is a feeling, and you can sense the type of environment you’re in as soon as you step onto a vessel. You can tell by the way people communicate with you. Can you speak up in a safe place? Can you voice your opinion? Or do you have to be afraid of consequences if you say something that is out of place, out of line for your rank, or questions authority? Creating psychological safety, which leads to work safety, is a crucial and significant factor in a captain’s leadership and how they operate the vessel.”

The panellists agreed on the need to share best practices and successes across the industry while respecting each company’s unique positioning. However, they acknowledged that establishing efficient systems for sharing knowledge and experiences remains a challenge.

To address the difficulty in obtaining accurate data across different cultural contexts, the industry could designate culturally aware representatives to gather information and facilitate confidential communication between crew members and management. This approach could help build trust and encourage seafarers to speak up about their concerns.

Establishing industrywide platforms for sharing best practices, successes, and knowledge related to seafarer wellbeing was also seen as crucial for driving progress. Enhanced collaboration with other transport sectors, such as aviation, that have more developed wellbeing programmes, could unlock further progress.

By Edwin Lampert, Riviera Maritime Media

Five strategies to retain and boost the maritime talent pool

The maritime industry’s tendency to prioritise hiring individuals with specific, often niche, expertise has created a barrier to entry for potential candidates from other industries who may possess valuable skills and fresh perspectives, delegates at this year’s Spinnaker Maritime People & Culture Conference heard

While accepting the argument, HR director at Pacific Basin, P B Subbiah, was keen that the scale of the challenge was understood. “We all recognise that the core of our business, which includes chartering and operations management, heavily depends on having indepth, industry-specific knowledge. [At the same time] it’s unlikely we would try to persuade a 33-year-old who has spent nine years working in the hospitality industry to transition into a career in shipping. The same goes for someone moving from the pharmaceutical industry or any other field. It’s simply not realistic to expect them to make that switch.”

To address this issue, a panel comprising Mr Subbiah as well as chief human resources officer at ABS, Chuck Kemper, professional speaker and performance coach, Tim Browne and chairman of Spinnaker, Phil Parry, argued greater prominence needs to be given to training and development programmes that bridge the gap between industry-specific knowledge and the skills candidates bring from other sectors. The need will only become more pronounced as the sector continues to wrestle with digitalisation, decarbonisation and changing global trade patterns.

Central to the attractiveness of any company when recruiting will be its culture. However, as Mr Parry pointed out, companies that engage Spinnaker’s services often do not provide this kind of information. “Unless it’s a retained executive search, clients rarely give us any insight into their organisational culture, reputation, or what it’s really like to work there. We can’t just guess what their culture is like or what ‘a good fit’ means to them. We need clients to help us understand who they are as an organisation so we can find the right people.”

But what does company culture mean in practice? For Mr Kemper it boils down to “how we do things around here.” And when articulating that to prospective candidates he revealed the profound influence a book called Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World of Work by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall has had on his thinking in this area.

“The first chapter, in particular, deeply resonated with my experiences in recruiting and the constant struggle to convey organisational culture to candidates.” He also said one of the biggest mistakes a company can make is neglecting to develop the leadership capabilities of its frontline managers, who oversee the vast majority of the workforce. “This is tantamount to disregarding the importance of organisational culture altogether.”

Agreeing, Mr Subbiah added, “I always say to my colleagues, it doesn’t matter what we think about ourselves. What matters is what other people think about us. When individuals outside our organisation speak positively about our treatment of employees and our overall reputation, that is a powerful draw for potential candidates. There is no merit in hard-selling the company, creating a marketing campaign with pink hats and balloons. It just doesn’t matter. We must focus on embodying our values consistently and allowing our actions to speak louder than any advertisement. The true measure of our cultural strength lies in our ability to demonstrate alignment and adherence to our core principles in every corner of the company, from the executive suite to the front lines.”

At Pacific Basin, its cultural business principles are defined through an iterative, participative process that involves surveying employees at all levels and distilling their input into 8-10 core principles. Generic terms like ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’ are banned and do not, in Mr Sabbiah’s words, “get you a ticket to the game”. He told delegates he was confident anyone in the company, if asked, could authentically articulate the company culture, rather than repeat by rote the list of principles.

Generational differences and expectations also surfaced in the discussion. Familiar themes were explored including that Gen Z candidates tend to be more open, seek transparency and authenticity and are often digital natives with incredible technical capabilities. On the flip side, the expectations of younger generations entering the workforce may be unrealistic or misaligned with those of older generations doing the hiring, said Mr Parry.

He shared an anecdote about his daughter’s job search and her resistance to “playing the game” in an interview by feigning an excessive interest in the role. This led to her being passed over for the position, despite being the most qualified. This, he said, highlighted the desire for authenticity among younger generations, which resonated with Mr Kemper, who said by actively engaging in decarbonisation efforts and communicating this to potential Gen Z candidates, his company was aligning with their values and concerns, and making the industry more attractive to them.

Mr Kemper also pushed back on broad generational stereotyping, noting complaints about “kids these days” went back to Socrates, before turning his sights on “excessive work-from-home arrangements” which he felt had “hit the younger generation hardest, stifling innovation, collaboration and inclusion.” He shared that he had advised his recently graduated son, on pain of losing his inheritance, to avoid fully remote jobs at all costs. (He was pleased to report his son was fully on board and was looking for no more than a couple of days working at home per week).

Mr Tim Browne picked up the theme, sharing that his son was simultaneously a digital nomad working in southeast Asia and part of a digital nomad community, where individuals from disparate professional backgrounds come together to share knowledge and experiences. “This, to me, represents a fascinating paradox and a testament to the human desire for connection and growth,” he said.

As well as generational gaps, the differences between men and women when applying for jobs was also discussed. This was especially timely as the conference coincided with the International Day for Women in Maritime.

Mr Subbiah cited an article that highlighted how girls outperform boys in school, but boys outperform girls at work. The article, he said, suggested that girls are less likely to speak up unless they are confident about the accuracy of their statements, while boys are more likely to take risks and speak up even when they are unsure.

Mr Parry said men are more likely to apply for a job when they meet 5 or 6 out of 10 requirements, while women tend to apply only when they meet 9 or 10 out of 10 requirements.

No discussion on attracting talent would be complete without mentioning money.

Mr Parry stressed that while company culture and work environment are important, candidates will always prioritise compensation when first looking for a job. “People will quit high-paying jobs if the work environment or boss is terrible. But they won’t accept a low-paying job unless it’s perhaps late in their career when they’re financially stable, or it’s a job that aligns with their moral values, like working for a charity.”

Mr Subbiah also recognised the significance of compensation. When managers ask for referrals, the first thing potential candidates want to know is if the company pays well. He pointed out salaries for the same job can vary significantly based on location. “When managers ask us if we know anyone who would be a good fit for a particular position, they want someone highly qualified to recommend a strong candidate because they trust that person’s judgment. But here’s the thing: if I reach out to a friend or former colleague about the job, their first question will be, ’Does this company pay well?’”

For all the focus on money, there was panel-wide agreement that people will pass up on better paid roles as they move into their careers if they feel well served when it comes to job satisfaction, personal fulfilment and the role aligns with their values.

Closing out the discussion, the panel agreed on five actions maritime companies can take to improve their ability to attract and retain talent.

First, be sure you can articulate your own view of your own culture when you are recruiting, and include that in your recruitment advertising, prospectuses and job descriptions. Second, select leaders based on their ability to lead and who demonstrate humility and curiosity. Prioritise these attributes over technical ability. Third, hire people based on their work ethic and commitment, rather than just their previous experience. Be willing to overlook the fact that a candidate may not have all the items on the wish list if these characteristics are strong. Fourth, invest in training and development programmes to bridge the gap between industry-specific knowledge and transferable skills, and finally, seek out candidates from diverse backgrounds and industries.

by Edwin Lampert, Riviera Maritime Media