Insights on Maritime

By Glenda Foo and Soong Hung Hao

Discovery+ is a series of online industry panels which give students the chance to interact with working professionals and learn about the careers they aspire to enter. These panels provide youths and working professionals with the opportunity to better understand industry trends, hear first-hand perspectives from industry professionals, and gain valuable advice on entering or navigating these industries.

On 18 January 2022, Advisory hosted Discover+: Maritime, the 50th edition of the Discovery+ series. Speakers on the panel included:

  • David Lee (Moderator), Senior Manager, Corporate Communications & Development and Maritime Singapore Connect Office, Singapore Maritime Foundation
  • Chih Chwen Heng, Director, Shipping Finance, Standard Chartered Bank
  • Sarah Greenough, Head of Maritime Sustainability and Supply Chain Excellence, BHP Singapore
  • Shirley Poo, Head of Communications & Sustainability, CMA CGM Asia Pacific
  • Victor Tan, Executive Vice President (Asia Global Logistics), Toll Group

Attendees included students at various levels of education with a desire to know the different career paths in Maritime, and how to best position themselves for such roles. Below are some key points shared during the session:

By 2050, the maritime industry has to reduce carbon emissions from 900 million tonnes produced in 2008 to 450 million tonnes. 

Sustainability means seeking to reduce the industry’s adverse impact on the environment, such as through moving towards net-zero carbon emissions, sustainable trade, alternative fuels, the more efficient use of energy to increase both productivity and profitability, and the use of solar-powered energy and LED lighting for warehouses. Vessels with dual-fuel engines are able to run on cleaner energy such as liquefied natural gas (LNG). On the lending side, sustainability efforts include a commitment to align ship financing portfolios with global climate targets, such as the Poseidon Principles. 

These sustainability efforts are powered by collaboration and cooperation between different stakeholders, including shipowners, ship carriers, banks, and the government.

Technology has been a transformative force in the maritime industry. It has allowed companies to redesign work processes and optimise commercial decisions, operations and ship management. Through technology, companies are able to improve vessel safety, seafarer welfare, and predict vessel incidents before they occur. 

Technology has also been a force multiplier in furthering sustainability and decarbonisation in the maritime industry. Through digitalisation, data can be transmitted to vessels at sea, enabling them to better plan routes and adjust the speed of the vessels. This allows vessels to burn less fuel, reduce carbon emissions, and increase operational efficiency. 

In the mining sector, technology has enabled the use of autonomous vehicles, remote operation of mine sites, and zero-emission locomotives to move commodities from mine sites to ports. Companies are also increasingly recognising the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced technologies to keep up with the digital world.

Although there is currently no degree for sustainability, one can learn more about sustainability and build up your knowledge on the sector through looking up resources online and attending talks and conferences. That being said, with determination, curiosity, and the ability to work with different individuals and organisations, knowledge for sustainability roles can be learnt on the job. 

Many skills from other industries are also very transferable to sustainability roles. As sustainability should be a focus for every employee and department in companies, and not only those in sustainability, the ability to engage and manage different stakeholders, partners and colleagues and educate them about sustainability is very important. A willingness to understand the business and explore how existing processes and operations can be further improved and made more sustainable are also crucial.

There are many onshore and seagoing opportunities in the maritime industry. As a global maritime hub, Singapore is committed to the continued growth of the maritime industry, including through sophisticated port infrastructure (e.g. Tuas Mega Port) and bunker accessibility. The Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) also supports talent attraction and development such as through MPA scholarships. 

The maritime industry is a very collegial sector where different stakeholders collaborate to work on common problems. It is a very hands-on and face-to-face industry with a lot of mentorship and coaching within the industry. Relationship building and collaborations are strongly valued. Individuals interested in the maritime industry should seek opportunities to undertake internships with different organisations. 

A potential disadvantage one might experience in the industry is the need to work odd hours due to the international nature of the industry.