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Maritime CEO Forum: Delegates split on millennials

Contrary to many recent reports carried by Splash, shipping is not struggling to attract the next generation into the industry, but more needs to be done to retain talent, asserted the HR panel at the Maritime CEO Forum in Hong Kong this week.

“For me, I don’t think there is a big problem. There’s a lot of people who are dying to go to sea,” said Bjørn Højgaard, CEO, Anglo-Eastern, relating how his ship management company takes 500 cadets a year and last year it had 2,200 applicants for those slots.

“From a shore based perspective it depends on how you promote yourr brand and market how people can work for you. Get that right and it is not a problem. We don’t experience a shortage or a lack of enthusiasm,” said PB Subbiah, HR director at Pacific Basin Shipping.

“I can’t see shipping struggling. It is a global industry. We should look ahead and see what the practical skill sets will be with digitalisation. Shipping is in a good position,” argued Morten Lind-Olsen, the CEO of tech firm Dualog.

The audience at the exclusive shipowner gathering at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in the heart of Hong Kong was not so positive. A straw poll was evenly split on shipping struggling to attract the next generation.

Part of the problem said the session’s moderator Heidi Heseltine, CEO of Halcyon Recruitment, was that shipping, especially in Europe, can be seen as a dirty industry.

That perception is there, agreed Højgaard, but he was able to spin this into a postive.

“Some of challenges shipping has in terms of digitalisation and new fuels could actually attract youngsters. It can be seen as sunset industry but these challenges can be worked on – to change cultures, to be more inclusive,” the Anglo-Eastern boss argued.

Quite so, agreed Rajesh Unni, founder and CEO of Synergy Marine Group. “You need to build an immersive world culture and a culture where people can learn from failure. I have learnt it is important to inspire people.”

A full report from the session will feature in Maritime CEO magazine. The next forum takes place at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore on March 17 next year.

The Maritime CEO Forum in Hong Kong was sponsored by American Express, Anglo-Eastern, Cobham, Dualog, Liberian Registry, Lloyd’s Register and Marlink.


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