Managing the Human Element
By Joseph Keefe
Too many times, we are simply not aware of what we do not know. That said; if the first quarter of 2015 brings only one thing into crystal clear focus, then that would probably involve the reality that the human element of maritime operations is the glue that holds the entire business model together. At the same time, any flaws or faults in this aspect of your far flung, waterborne enterprise are sure to take you down. The days of merely finding someone to wander up your gangway to meet minimum crewing requirements is certainly over. The advent of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) is a big part of that equation, but it is by no means the only variable in play.
The right seafarer won’t be cheap, he or she won’t be easy to find and once here, that individual will need to be trained and verified as competent. If only it were that easy. You may find, more often than not, your (considerable) investment in human resources walking back down that gangway and onto someone else’s platform. Beyond this, it probably won’t be for the usual reasons. Within this issue of MarPro, we examine the ins and outs of recruitment, retention, training and what makes all of that tick. You might just be surprised at what you did not previously know.
Separately, and even in a precarious energy environment that has impacted if not upset some previously solid business models, the white knight known simply as LNG is still in the mix. Coming and already enforceable environmental standards for the maritime industry are (slowly) moving some players towards LNG as a fuel. The ever changing, geopolitical landscape will make sure of that. Through it all, innovation is the key, bolstered by a 50-year safety record unmatched in any other sector. Once peeled away, the misconceptions that remain about LNG, its transport and technology, will eventually evaporate like the boil-off consumed by a ship from its transocean liquefied cargo. That story begins on page 46.
Because not all “maritime professionals” work at sea, this edition also profiles the necessary (and enormously interesting) work done by marine insurance professionals everywhere. In particular, a look at the role of the marine surveyor in the realm of marine underwriting is a fascinating journey into a curious, but entirely necessary career path. But, what PJ Jacquelin does for Barney and Barney – a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company since 2012 – cannot necessarily be described in the context of simple survey work. Addressing marine risk from all angles, and leading his firm’s Global Marine Practice Group, Jacquelin weaves an interesting mix of office and field work into a career built on many layers, including but not limited to, at sea commercial experience, U.S. Coast Guard service and even time spent as an instructor at the California Maritime Academy. As you turn the pages, you’ll come to understand that, for this maritime professional, there is ‘no risk in a curious career path.’
(As published in the 1Q 2015 edition of Maritime Professional - www.maritimeprofessional.com)