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.
Mr. Alexopoulos has 25 years of experience in shipping, banking and maritime finance. He is a partner of Eurofin Group; a ship-financing boutique with offices in London, Athens, Singapore and Lausanne. He is the Managing Director of the Group’s Athens office and a key part of the Eurofin team, which acts as a Consultant to KfW IPEX-Bank for its Greek debt shipping portfolio. He is a teaching fellow at the ALBA Graduate Business School, specialising in Shipping Finance and Maritime Economics and acts as a Consultant on Shipping Finance to the World Maritime University, of the IMO, in Malmo, Sweden.
Dr. Christodoulou-Varotsi is a senior legal consultant (member of the Athens Bar Association) and industry trainer in private practice specialised in Maritime and EU law and policies. Visiting lecturer at ALBA Graduate Business School ACG. Highly experienced law drafter (Cypriot law). She provides specialized consulting services in the capacity of sub-contractor to the European Commission and EMSA. Projects with Lloyd’s Maritime Academy and DNV Maritime Academy Hellas (MLC 2006). Honorary Visiting Fellow, Institute of Maritime Law, University of Southampton. Author of five books with international publishers. Iliana holds all her degrees, including her PhD with the highest distinction, from the Faculty of Laws of Paris Sorbonne University. Additional exposure through post-doctoral research.
Mr. Teriakidis has completed studies of B.Eng. in Naval architecture at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne as well as of a M.Sc. at Strathclyde University of Glasgow. Upon completion of his studies, he joined DNV office of Dubai where we worked in various positions. In August 2008 he joined DNV Piraeus working in business development roles. Since June 2019, he is the Area Manager for Area East Med. And Black sea for DNV Maritime.
Mr. Tzevelekos is native Greek, born in Athens in 1969. He started his professional path with an apprenticeship at Lufthansa in Greece in 1992, in the faculty of Airline business administration. He has held various positions with the company ever since, including all management positions of the local sales organization. In 2017, he became the first non-expatriate General Manager of the company for Greece and Cyprus. In 2021, the responsibility of three additional markets in Balkan was also taken over.
Mr. Kartsimadakis, born in the renowned seafaring island of Chios, Greece, grew up in a seafaring family and graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy of Chios as an Engineer. He has served as Senior Engine Officer on oceangoing bulk carriers & diverse tanker vessels and was awarded an MSc with distinction in Maritime Management by the University of Aegean. He holds a Chief Engineer’s License following his service at sea. As of 2011, he has been serving in the Vetting Department of the Tsakos Group of Companies, being entrusted the senior role of Group’s Vetting & Inspections Manager as of 2016. In 2021 he joined INTERTANKO as Vetting Manager Secondee.
Mr. Jakobsen is one of the founders of Green-Jakobsen established in 2001. He is a facilitator/instructor, a trained mediator and a NLP Master Practitioner, authorized by the Danish Maritime Authority as Safety & Health Instructor and certified user of the Thomas PPA system. He is the Managing Director of Green-Jakobsen, Manila, Philippines. He is a certified Master Mariner and has working experience as a Crewing Manager and Nautical Superintendent. His core competencies cover Leadership learning and development, Marine HR and safety strategy development, Marine HR learning and development processes and competence management.
Mr. Jones spent a decade working as a navigation officer. He has a Chief Officer certificate and Masters degrees in Communications and International Relations. After working in a range of shore-based roles he founded the Seafarers Happiness Index to address the concerns of crew, ensuring the voice of those at sea is heard, and is proud to work with the MIssion to Seafarers in doing so. He is Past President of the Propeller Club Liverpool, an Associate Fellow of the Nautical Institute, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Trustee of the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial.
Dr. Pyne is Principal Investigator for the EU Erasmus+ funded ‘SkillSea’ project; Future proof skills for the maritime transport sector. The SkillSea project aims to ensure that Europe’s maritime professionals possess key digital, green and soft management skills for the rapidly-changing maritime labour market. It seeks to not only produce a sustainable skills strategy, but also to increase the number of these professionals – enhancing the safety and efficiency of this vital sector. Liverpool John Moores University has been engaged in Maritime Education and Training since 1852. LOOM was established in 1998.
Mr. Oikonomou holds a long and holistic experience in the travel management industry from key positions as Budgeting, Supplier Negotiations, Sales and Marketing and since 2013 he is the CEO of the leading Travel Management Group in Greece, Marine Tours. His “can do” philosophy, crisis management skills, innovative thinking and clarity of vision have carried Marine Tours through extremely rapid and continuous growth. He is an expert in travel management strategy and cost optimization and a dynamic speaker at various conferences locally and internationally.
Dr. Progoulaki is an Adjunct Lecturer of Human Resources in Shipping in the MBA and MSc programmes at ALBA Graduate Business School. She is also Senior Consultant and the Regional Representative for Green-Jakobsen A/S in Greece and Cyprus. She has a long experience in consultancy, teaching and international research in Maritime Human Resources and Crew Management, Cross-Cultural Management in Shipping, interpersonal skills, and the implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC2006). Dr. Progoulaki combines an academic background in shipping, international research and teaching practice with professional experience and working in the international maritime context.