Monday 19th Nov, 2018

Industry figures discuss the technology and careers at YSA breakfast

Svitzer chief commercial officer Ivan Spanjic, Maersk Line Australia sales director and country manager My Therese Blank and Hutchison Ports Australia CEO John Willy. Ian Ackerman/DCN
Svitzer chief commercial officer Ivan Spanjic, Maersk Line Australia sales director and country manager My Therese Blank and Hutchison Ports Australia CEO John Willy. Ian Ackerman/DCN

YOUNG Shipping Australia members and guests got together Friday morning for a breakfast panel discussion, covering topics ranging from technology-driven change in the industry to how young people can find their career path.

The panel comprised Svitzer chief commercial officer Ivan Spanjic, Maersk Line Australia sales director and country manager My Therese Blank and Hutchison Ports Australia CEO John Willy.

The discussion started out on the topic of technology, and what changes it will bring to the industry.

Hutchison Ports Australia CEO John Willy. Ian Ackerman/DCN
Hutchison Ports Australia CEO John Willy. Ian Ackerman/DCN

Mr Willy said automation had fundamentally changed the landscape for the stevedores.

“Automation and technology binds us all together, not only for the terminal operators, but my customers, the shipping lines, and my indirect customers on the land side,” he said.

“We are the glue in the middle, and our productivity, our efficiency affects those two customers, and technology is one of the areas that improves that efficiency.”

Being geared towards the younger workers in the industry, there was much discussion about recruitment and career paths.

In response to an audience member asking for advice on finding a path in the maritime industry, the panel agreed that one has to be flexible and open minded.

Svitzer chief commercial officer Ivan Spanjic. Ian Ackerman/DCN
Svitzer chief commercial officer Ivan Spanjic. Ian Ackerman/DCN

Mr Spanjic said someone working their way through the industry had to be “comfortable with an ambiguous future”.

“And, your career is your responsibility,” he said.

Addressing a question about what she looks for when recruiting, Ms Blank said she values people who want to be part of changing our industry, who want to move forward and use technology to help customers, and also a broad knowledge of the industry is valuable.

“Customers require us to know in-depth about their business, they want us to be specialists within what they are doing, within their supply chain,” she said.

“It is also very important to increase our awareness of our customers and their markets, and not only be aware of what we are doing as a shipping company. We need to understand the end-to-end supply chain.”

Mr Spanjic also said a broad knowledge of the maritime industry is important.

“We can all be a bunch of data-enabled geeks, but if you don’t have people who know the business intimately, then we can start having issues around safety and reliability,” he said.

Maersk Line Australia sales director and country manager My Therese Blank. Ian Ackerman/DCN
Maersk Line Australia sales director and country manager,
My Therese Blank. Ian Ackerman/DCN

And the breakfast panel session ended with Ms Blank encouraging the women in the room to move up the ranks in the industry.

“I’ve seen in the past many of our female staff, they feel that in order to take the next role, or lead the next project, they need to be 100% comfortable and confident in themselves,” she said.

“They feel like they need to have the experience and exposure so they feel 100% ready and 100% capable.

“But, it’s okay if you’re not 100% ready. Normally when you get an opportunity you are not 100% ready because you are supposed to develop and learn in that role.”

Ms Blank encouraged women in the industry to open themselves up to a little bit more risk.

“You don’t have to feel like you can master that end to end role or that job opportunity. You’ll have a leader there to help you develop and grow in the role,” she said.

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