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‘We remain too often behind an opaque veil’

Carleen Lyden Walker on shipping’s momentous changes afoot and the need to be more transparent

“We have never experienced such a period of complete change in our industry,” exclaims a clearly excited Carleen Lyden Walker, self-titled chief evolution officer at American ship tech event SHIPPINGInsight, in conversation with Splash Extra.

Lyden Walker, who runs her own PR firm from Connecticut and is also an IMO Goodwill Maritime Ambassador, is a shipping nut, an enthusiast who loves the sector and is determined to paint it in a better light.

She grew up on an island in Michigan where the Detroit River meets Lake Erie, and would spend hours down on the banks watching ships going up and down.

“I was fascinated, and wanted to know where they were going, who was onboard, and what were they carrying,” she recalls.

After college Lyden Walker got into advertising and communications, skills she then transferred into shipping in 1992.

Society is demanding transparency in every facet: government, corporations, schools and more

Lyden Walker is clear that in her near 30-year career in shipping right now is the industry’s most exciting, momentous time.

“This isn’t simply shifting from sail to steam over a period of decades, this is a time where our propulsion and future fuels are unknown,” she says. “This isn’t merely putting our shipped goods into a box, but transforming every aspect of our operations — and business models.”

As someone who has watched shipping being dragged every year more into the mainstream spotlight, Lyden Walker has strong opinions on where shipping ought to be when it comes to transparency and being on the front foot.

The gap between shipping and the public is closing, due to the internet providing global and instant communications and the awareness generated by publicly traded companies, Lyden Walker reckons.

“We still have not, however, reached a point of transparency that will serve us, remaining too often behind an opaque veil,” she warns, adding: “Society is demanding transparency in every facet: government, corporations, schools and more. We need to meet that transparency—or be damaged by our silence. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if we don’t fill it with our information, the world will learn inaccurate or shaded facts that will be to our detriment.”

For the past year, Lyden Walker has been trying to gain support for something she has christened the Global Maritime Information Coalition so shipping can develop a repository of accurate information, and have a mechanism for responding to inaccurate generalisations about the industry.

Part of North American Shipping Week, SHIPPINGInsight is set to return on October 11 through 13. The aim of the event is to provide a forum where the shipping industry can gather to discuss fleet optimisation and innovation with an opportunity for fleet managers to have serious conversations, and challenge, service providers. Splash will be reporting from the event.

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