On the 22nd of April during Singapore’s Maritime Week at the “Singapore Shipping Forum 2021: Shipping Post Pandemic” conference, our CEO John Michael Radziwill was invited by Andrew Gallagher of Moore Stephens LLP to give a keynote speech.
Mr. Radziwill began his speech by paying homage and giving thanks to those who have been on the front lines in the fight against this pandemic for the past 15 months: doctors, nurses, delivery workers, supermarket employees and our seafarers. We second those sentiments by saying without these brave men and women the world would probably be in a much worse state than it is currently and we thank them for all they have done.
During his speech, John Michael spoke on the six lessons that the world has learned and been reminded of during the pandemic:
- Shipping is an essential service - During the Covid-19 pandemic shippers across all sectors had varied fortunes whilst providing our essential services. Even though dry bulk rates fell to below 5-year averages and 85 million tonnes of cargo were wiped out from the prior year, our sector has come out of the pandemic relatively unscathed. Due in part to the stimulus measures put in place by governments worldwide, thanks to the essential commodities that we carry. “The transport of goods worldwide is essential and it will remain that way pre — during — post-pandemic.” So far this year as we wrote about in our post “BSI Reaches 10 Year High” both Supramax and Panamax rates reached decade highs and it's been the strongest start to the year for the Capesizes in a decade, giving the dry bulk market some long-awaited cheer. “Post pandemic, shipping will remain an essential part of the global economy, but further stimulus measures will accelerate recovery and boost trade.”
- The core values of excellence and generosity are still relevant - CTM’s two guiding principles are generosity and excellence. It’s important during times that we are living through to not forget those around us. “It is by caring more about others than oneself that we achieve excellence.” It is this ethos and character of caring for each other, those around us and all we do business with that will continue to be our guiding light as we go forward. When it comes to excellence and how we achieve it Mr. Radziwill had this to say: “Excellence is fostered by having an idea meritocracy and a challenge culture, using our networks to create value for everyone involved and delivering results.” At CTM we constantly push and challenge every idea and by doing so we have discovered that we get the best results for us and our clients.
- We need to take care of our people and those around us - This pandemic is primarily a humanitarian crisis, all over the world, people have been forced into solitude unable to see friends, family to work or socialise as they normally would. This goes double for our seafarers who even, after all, they have done during this pandemic, in keeping trade moving, they are still not deemed essential workers “they were trapped on vessels for months on end unable to set foot onshore…without draconian sanitation and health protocols”. This pandemic has impacted the mental wellbeing of seafarers around the world: “Safety4Sea claim that over 25% of seafarers suffer from severe depression and almost 6% of deaths at sea are attributed to suicide, and this figure has dramatically increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.” We experienced difficulties in changing crews but we overcame them by deploying all available resources at our disposal, including deviating ships to Manila (while trading in the Far East), even though doing so we incurred considerable extra costs but it was worth it “as our people are the most valuable asset of the company”.
- Physical interaction is important - This pandemic has also impacted our onshore teams who have been working from home since February 2020. The pandemic has changed the way we work, where normally “we are all in one room bouncing ideas off of one another at will and its a creative hub of activity” much like a beehive. In working from home we have been forced to “adjust the way we do things and it has forced us to improve ourselves”. However, do we think it is better to be together physically? The answer is a resounding “YES”. The buzz and activity that we are normally surrounded by on a daily basis cannot be replaced or replicated in our homes. The “challenge culture that we have at CTM has become more difficult” with everyone working from home. We are firm believers that “when people work together in a constructive and unemotional way they come up with better results”. At the end of the day, “we all work for the customer…we are always looking for the best ideas and solutions so that the customer always wins”. This is what drives us and what our customers contribute to as part of our “Thought Partnership”. We have missed the daily interactions with our team of over 80 colleagues and look forward to being back together under one roof at some point in the future. Till then we will continue to work from home, communicate digitally and keep safe.
- Our way of working/culture has been challenged & we have had to adapt - The shipping industry has its own special culture that brings together people from all over the world. “The pandemic will not change this culture…it has brought us closer together emotionally and made us more conscious of how much we care for each other and the world around us.” The pandemic has pushed us to find new ways to work but it will never change our culture of working together and bringing the best out of each other. Technology has changed our way of doing things, with all of us working from our homes it has forced the world to adapt to a new way of working and communicating. This is where businesses have had to embrace the “digital culture”. Utilising tools such as Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Teams etc to communicate and taking advantage of real-time digital collaboration on documents and presentations increasing productivity and output. The world has had to embrace and learn how to get things done digitally. Even ship inspections are now being done remotely by drones and remotely operated vehicles: “Even if you didn’t understand technology / couldn’t fully use it you had no choice but to fully embrace it.” These new tools are not only efficient but can reduce costs, limit risk to human life and reduce our impact on the environment. That nicely brings on to our final point made during Mr. Radziwill’s speech: the environment and how we can reduce our impact on it.
- The environment needs all of us to do more - The environment has been the net beneficiary of the Covid 19 pandemic as non-essential travel came to a grinding halt. It has been an “eye-opener and we have become more conscious of how our activities impact the environment.” Even though our industry is one of if not the most “efficient modes of transport releasing three times less CO2 than rail and nine times less than trucks/lorries, we know we can do more to lower our emissions.” We at CTM as detailed in our recent blog post “Reducing our Carbon Footprint” are cutting the environmental impact in our offices. In the shipping context the most immediate and direct way to cut emissions is slow steaming: “In the last fifteen years, the global fleet size has probably gone up about 2.2 times we are actually emitting less CO2 the main reason is because we are going slower, bulkers are 20% down, containers are 25% down and tankers are 20% down. So slow steaming works and it can be implemented immediately.” We at CTM believe that slow steaming is the most direct course of action that can limit shipping’s impact on the environment today.
Mr Radziwill finished his speech by encouraging the shipping community to: “do their part in achieving excellence and generosity for the benefit of the whole. As an industry we need to learn more from the past and avoid future mistakes, like restraining from ordering new ships and oversupplying our market.” He ended with a short message to all the dry bulk shipowners “grab every cent and let's increase our exposure only through the second-hand market so that we can enjoy it not for months but for years and decades to come!”.
We would like to thank Moore Stephens LLP and Mr. Gallagher for inviting Mr. Radziwill to give his keynote speech during the Singapore Maritime Week. We look forward to the time when we can attend in person instead of via webcam and properly reconnect with our friends in the global maritime community.
C TRANSPORT MARITIME S.A.M. (CTM) is a highly qualified and experienced vessel management company primarily in the dry cargo ocean transportation industry. Established in Monaco in 2004, the company has strong Greek and Italian shipping roots that reach back over a century. CTM currently manages a fleet of over 200 dry cargo vessels at any point in time in the Handymax up to Capesize segments.