Commentary

Commentary

Having spent 31 of my 33 professional years on the international side of the shipping industry, moving to the domestic offshore segment has proved similar in some ways and quite different in others. It’s those differences that I believe have caused the Jones Act trades to find themselves in the somewhat controversial positions we’ve read about all too often.
The maritime academies face many challenges in our traditional way of preparing students for careers in the maritime industry: ever-increasing domestic and international regulations (standards, training, certification and watchkeeping; MARPOL; and ballast water, for example); growing demand for online education vs. face-to-face classroom; shrinking state and federal budgets; and the aging state of maritime academy training ships.
The big ship trend shows no sign of slowing.
The two most important changes we believe will affect maritime executive search in the coming year are dramatic shifts in top leadership positions within many of our nation’s seaports and significant growth in the NVOCC and freight forwarding sectors.
I expect three major events in shipping this year.
The shipping market in 2013 may hardly see a fundamental rollover of its current downturn, but the industry will definitely experience a transition that will feature a reshuffling of shipping companies and innovations in their operation and management.
I anticipate our industry will see several changes and forms of evolution this year as all sectors try to find a solid foundation for sustained success. One of the most important developments I suspect we’ll witness will be one of increased internal focus by relevant stakeholders, and that won’t necessarily be detrimental to our industry.
The economic environment remains challenging and volatile. We must use this time to leverage stakeholder management across the supply chain with an emphasis on increased public-private partnerships and strengthened cooperation.
2013 promises to bring considerable uncertainty, as well as opportunity for the shipping and ports sector. While the U.S. economy appears to be on a slow path toward recovery from the Great Recession, Europe and Asia face challenges such that the long-term global trade outlook is for more tempered growth in global trade.
Global Trade Management has been defined as “the total optimization of the end-to-end international supply chain — from product conception to final delivery — with focus on the integration of regulatory, strategic and system components to ensure a seamless, secure and cost-effective flow of goods, data and payments across international borders.” In other words, GTM is a holistic approach of managing all of these separate, disparate tasks as a single seamless process.
A few weeks ago an intermodal executive asked me a question to the effect of, “Where should we be headed?” As I talked out my answer and the rationale, it occurred to me that on the surface I sounded cringingly mundane, my observation the type that could have been made in 1995, 2007 or today.
Global economic uncertainty and excess shipping capacity are two key factors that will drive the maritime industry in 2013.
The maritime sector has seen substantial recovery in trade volumes since the dark days of late 2008. This fact appears to support the notion that world trade, while not immune from cyclical economic downturns or temporary disruptions in trade finance, is very much on a trajectory for healthy growth.
The success of the coming year depends largely upon the global economic climate.