MARITIME TRENDS CONFEREΝCE 2023: Concluded with Great Success and Insightful Outcomes

The Maritime Trends Conference 2023 was successfully held on May 13th, 2023 at the Divani Apollon Palace & Thalasso Hotel, in Kavouri, under the academic auspices of the Alba Graduate Business School, The American College of Greece and the support of the Lufthansa Group.

The event, a proud initiative of Marine Tours and part of the company’s CSRs actions, has become over the years a benchmark in the shipping sector. After three years of postponement due to the pandemic, the Conference returned more relevant than ever, serving as the meeting point for more than 230 executives of more than 120 shipping companies. It is worth noting that this year’s Conference was brought under the auspices of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Insular Policy, and the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping.

The Maritime Trends Conference is perceived as being one of the most reliable sources of information for the maritime community, providing executives access to valuable learnings and insights related to the latest trends and developments, as well as to the prospects for the sector. This year’s Conference focused on the challenges that have emerged as a result of the transition to the post-pandemic period and the “Next Normal” era. In addition, the “Human Factor Management” as well as the growing dynamic of ESG solutions have been in particular focus.

The Conference started with the “Market Trends & Conditions” panel, coordinated by Mr. Konstantinos Oikonomou (CEO of Marine Tours). The first speaker was Mr. Ioannis Alexopoulos (Partner, Eurofin Group / Teaching Fellow at the ALBA Graduate Business School), who talked about the transformations of the global ship-financing landscape affecting Shipping Finance, the prospects and challenges for the European Shipping Banks and the Asian Ship-financing Institutions, while emphasis was placed on the question that concerns the entire Industry: Where do we go from here?

Dr. Iliana Christodoulou-Varotsi (Senior Legal Consultant & Industry Trainer / Visiting Lecturer, ALBA Graduate Business School ACG) took the stand seeking to place recent regulatory developments in the wider context so as to assess the progress made so far and the challenges ahead both from the perspective of shipowners and seafarers. The speaker pointed out, among others, the impact of geopolitics and health emergencies on shipping and crews, the rising costs, including crew-related costs, and inflation and the contribution of recently adopted amendments to further improving seafarers’ working and living conditions aboard vessels. Moreover, accent has been put on creating synergies among stakeholders for leveraging new measures and ensuring that the values embedded in quality shipping are not compromised in any way.

Mr. George Teriakidis (Area Manager East Mediterranean & Black Sea, DNV) took over with an enlightening presentation on ESG compliance, referring to the stock listed companies, which are the first to adopt and to be compliant. In addition, he argued that together with all the other regulations in the maritime industry a need for a compliance officer rises, and that the “S”ocial element is very important since it involves perceptions by the end users.

The first round of lectures was completed with the speech of Mr. Kostas Tzevelekos (General Manager Sales Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece and Slovenia, Lufthansa Group). At the core of his presentation was the strategy of the Lufthansa Group in shaping the future of travel in a more sustainable way.

The second panel entitled “Challenges & Βest Practices in People Management“ was coordinated by Dr. Maria Progoulaki (ALBA Graduate Business School ACG, Adjunct Lecturer and Green-Jakobsen A/S Senior Consultant, Regional Representative), focusing this year on the high importance of the Human Capital, a critical factor of the shipping industry.

First to take the stage, Mr. Anastasios Kartsimadakis [Group Vetting & Inspections Manager, Tsakos Shipping & Trading S.A. / Vetting Manager (Seconded), INTERTANKO] provided a thorough analysis of SIRE 2.0 and the transition challenges that may arise. Particularly, special focus was placed on the human factor improvement  comparing SIRE 1.0 Vs SIRE 2.0, the Performance Influencing Factors (PIFs) and the inspector’s onboard assessment. In addition, main focus was on the human response through flow charts and tools. The presentation concluded with case study and the respective INTERTANKO initiatives.

Mr. Bjarke Jakobsen (Partner and Senior Consultant, Green-Jakobsen A/S) noted in his lecture the importance of the leadership impact factor in human performance, one of the strongest drivers available in our toolbox. As mentioned, leadership is not rocket science nor does it come to us solely as a birthright, since there is no such thing as a born leader. Leadership is common sense applied to a business in a holistic and consistent fashion and constitutes a set of skills we all can learn. Mr. Jakobsen advised that leadership demands constant learning, endless practice, and a very high sense of awareness of the total environment.

Subsequently, Steven Jones (Founder, Seafarers Happiness Index) has thrown a critical light on the sentiment barometer that registers a drop since 2022, while at the same time the overall Q1 2023 average was 7.1/10. As stated, recovery in sentiment has stalled and small frustrations may have big impact. Companies that have invested in wellbeing – support, resources and initiatives onboard may see benefits. At the same time, Mr. Jones referred to the factors that leave seafarers angered, such as the lack of investments and the lack of understanding towards the problems they face. He continued by suggesting that listening shows that we care, it allows us to learn and to fix things.

The conference concluded with the speech of Dr. Robyn Pyne [Principal Lecturer: Logistics and Maritime Management, Liverpool John Moores University; Logistics, Offshore and Marine Research Institute (LOOM)]. The speaker talked about the European SkillSea program, aiming to foster skills preparing seafarers of Europe for industry challenges. More specifically, Dr. Pyne talked about the educational ‘Toolboxes’, and how they can be used so as to succeed cultivating not only transversal (soft) skills, but also hard skills, such as digital skills, green skills, STEM etc. Lastly, particular emphasis was laid on skills of key importance like leadership and resilience.

It is worth noting that the conference’s participation was offered to the shipping executives for free, since this Conference is one of the various actions implemented by Marine Tours within the scope to support and promote Greek shipping.