Brits top c-suite positions in shipping

50% of C-suite leaders at the industry’s top shipping employers are British (19%), Danish (18%) or American (11%), according to the latest analysis carried out by the HR consulting team at Spinnaker.

The data, for 25,000 staff in 94 countries, is drawn from the 12th annual salary survey carried out by Spinnaker in its role as secretariat of the Maritime HR Association. The membership, some 90 or so shipping employers, is drawn from all over the globe although does not include any mainland Chinese shipowners or charterers.

“8% are Indian, but 17% of senior managers – one level below – are Indian,” commented HR consultant Sarah Hutley. “This may hint at changes at the top as the current leadership generation retires, although there is nationality-to-discipline bias meaning this is more likely in fleet management roles than chartering roles for example.”

Illustrating this point, the best represented nationality in fleet management and operations roles is Indian, accounting for 30% of fleet management staff and 34% of operations staff, but 16% of all staff. Indian nationals are well represented at all levels in fleet management but more than half of them are in junior and entry level roles in operations. The senior operations positions are dominated by British and Danish nationals.

In sharp contrast, Filipino nationals, also a major source of seafarers of course, only comprise 2% of fleet management staff, reinforcing the long-held stereotype of the Filipino seafarer often retiring from the industry rather than having a second shipping career ashore.

The exception is crewing roles, where Filipinos and Indians combined make up half of crewing staff, although even here Indians outnumber Filipinos 30/20.

The proportion of Chinese nationals remains low but is increasing – 5% of superintendents compared to 3% last year. Along with Germans, American and Dutch fleet management staff, they show a preference for marine, safety and quality roles, suggesting deck officer backgrounds. Indian, Greek, British and Danish nationals on the other hand are more likely to specialise in roles with a technical or engineering focus.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Surely with the move of many maritime companies and maritime power away from Europe to the Far East and SE Asia, combined with the increasingly difficulty to obtain work permits and visas for foreign nationals (such as in the US, Singapore, etc), there will be a gradual reduction in western and European managers and to increase the number of more locally based managers.
    Years ago the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers opened up their membership to non-British applicants and there has been a steady reduction of companies willing to offer ex-pat remuneration packages. Add to those factors the increasing move away from shipping of younger aspiring managers in deference to more attractive industry sectors with a better image and the former hegemony is likely to disappear.

  2. The #maritime industry, keeping with others, seems to have jumped on the #diversity bandwagon, where the argument made for greater diversity is the standard one – “There isn’t enough representation from a certain peoples’ group”.

    The current darling in this #identity game is the call for greater #gender diversity.

    Here we have an article which illustrates that in our industry, most of those engaged in the sharp-end and even the middle-management ranks could possibly never dream of rising to a C-suite position, simply owing to the fact that the industry seems to prefer a certain nationality/race-based demographic for it, which they are not part of.

    How do we explain and accept this lopsidedness in a world which cannot seem to #leadership #management #leaders #workforce have enough diversity?

    Should companies be reflecting over how predominantly #White their leadership is, despite the fact that these leaders come from an ethnic/national background which is not even representative of the workforce they lead?

    If the industry sees the calls for greater gender diversity as a justified one, why not call for greater diversity in #nationality and #race for the top job(s)?


    1. Capt Gautama , very aptly put. Deprived ones will be offered when there are no takers and that too at not the same service conditions. However the growing consolidation of major Logistics players ( who once were only Ocean carriers) would evolve in to scenario where shipping professionals may loose out to others. As such Ocean freight/cost per unit is brought down with economy of scale .

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