Gamification, virtual reality, cyber security, case studies on maritime eco-systems and digital twinning, diversity, wind farms and automation. These are some of the topics that are regularly coming up for discussion in maritime circles. As I am writing this article, we are in the process of putting the finishing touches on the program for the MIAL Annual Conference: Modern Maritime being held in conjunction with Pacific 2019 on October 8-10 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney.

Creating the program is always a challenging but rewarding process, as we talk with members, speakers and stakeholders and reflect on the many conferences we have attended across the year.  I think this provides us with a unique perspective on the most pressing issues facing industry. Specifically, I’d like to focus here on two important maritime issues and how they will be addressed at this year’s event. 


This year, we have focused on areas which could assist in improving the industry as well as owners and operators. The capability and affordability of technology solutions for our daily operations is highly topical even though the language around it: cyber actors, digital twinning, dynamic eco-systems – is not that explicit. 

As Teresa Lloyd, MIAL chief executive says: “As a society we are moving towards a directly connected environment where everything is at our fingertips yet as an industry, I still see inefficiencies, fragmented data and even pencil and paper processes. This is not sustainable in this age of digitisation but understanding how these new ideas actually work in practice is also challenging.”

The pressures of increased competition and heavy workloads can sometimes obstruct our opportunity to actually see how other organisations are using these new technologies in practice.  Nowhere are current examples more completely on display than at the MIAL Modern Maritime Conference.

Future leaders, future training

Consistently our conferences have addressed issues around the maritime workforce. This year, workforce themes will be tackled from a different angle with the increasing roles of diversity, wellness/well-being, performance and reward explored across a number of sessions. The first will be with Ross Nicholls, chair of Mission to Seafarers Brisbane and chair of the Port of Brisbane Port Welfare Committee who will look at the humanitarian issues around seafaring. Ross will also address the fundamental question “Is technology impacting on the life of a seafarer?” 

The session that is set to be the most robust in this area is the one labelled “Brave New World”. Starting with a new game presented by Paul Van Empel from Uniteam, Escape from deSolo is re-thinking the way we train millennials and the industry in general. We will also cover virtual reality and how it has advanced in the training space. Further, a panel discussion with future leaders: Banu Kannu – Warsila Corporation, Katherine Langworthy – Woodside (invited) and Harry Hubbert – Royal Australian Navy, is to take a fresh view of the current workplace. This conversation will be an important one, as it will set the stage for additional content and discussions about how specific technologies and societal changes are impacting the industry. The increasing role of diversity, wellness, workplace flexibility and technology will be explored.

A ‘fireside chat’

As Teresa Lloyd, says: “At Pacific 2019 we have exposure to the latest and greatest in defence technology. The defence sector now also has exposure to the latest and greatest in the civil space.  It’s a two way street where we can all benefit. But don’t forget the human factors, they are just as important in this Brave New World.” Finally, there is to be a “fireside chat” with former Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne, Retired Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett and former Deputy Secretary Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group who are to explore their personal stories and give some insight into what they would say to their “younger selves” and what they would do differently.  It is hoped that these former leaders will be able to cover themes and topics that were not possible when they were in their previous roles.

Final thoughts

Certainly, the themes and topics mentioned above are going to continue to be top of mind for those in the maritime industry for years to come but Modern Maritime also provides a great opportunity for maritime CEOs and Senior Managers, leading consultants, politicians, experts – and suppliers – to all come together in one place to network, relax and think about ways of improvement. 

Author: Alison Saunders, MIAL