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News ID: 80058 |
Publish Date: 10:44 - 10 June 2018

The past and future of Greek Shipping

Posidonia has witnessed big names in Greek shipping telling young seafarers to be inspired by their forebearers and cast the shipping industry in their own image

Greek shipping luminaries have been telling young seafarers at Posidonia to pay respect to their forerunners but also cultivate their own ideas for the future.

THE vibrancy at this year’s Posidonia was one of high energy, hope and optimism for the future, particularly among the young generation of Greeks.

And that is good news for the continuous prosperity of Greek shipping and the rekindling of the country’s economic growth.

Ask any employer, including shipowners, and they will tell you the secret of their success is the ability to recruit the best talent. Find some Young Turks with no pre-conceived ideas about their business or the industry, who will dare to innovate and lead their companies to the new frontier. 

Luckily for Greek owners, shipping is to Greeks what Silicon Valley is to Americans. The best and the brightest seek jobs and career opportunities in the only industry where Greece is a global leader.

If proof was necessary, there was standing room only at two seminars held at Posidonia exhibition on Thursday. The events were targeted at academy cadets and young entrepreneurs, with themes such as ‘The next chapter in shipping — A new era of ship managers in the age of digitalisation’ and ‘Presentation of emerging Piraeus Maritime start-ups’.

Panos Laskaridis, managing director of Lavinia Group, challenged a young audience to be themselves.

“Let me start with an advice,” said Mr Laskaridis. “I’m sure you have heard plenty of advice this week around Posidonia from supposedly elder and experienced people. The advice I have to give you is don’t expect any useful advice from people of my age, my profession, and my situation.”

He added: “People like me are responsible for getting our country in the mess we are in today. So, do your own thing. Do whatever you like, and you are sure you will be better off.”

The young generation of Greeks will be shipping’s bridge to the future, much as previous generations provided the bridge to Greece’s domination in maritime transportation.

It was only fitting to witness a tribute by George Papadopoulos, general manager of Safe Bulkers Management in Cyprus, who is retiring after 50 years of service to Safe Bulkers, its predecessor companies, and the Hajioannou family.

This is his testament in a speech he gave at the company’s celebration of 60 years in shipping and 10 years in capital markets.

Shipping “was not my choice for work”, he said. “I wanted to be a policeman because from my early age I wanted to better the world. I have done nothing for it.

“I went for an interview. I passed the interview. I passed nine interviews and examinations, and a month before completing my academy service, in 1968, and getting ready to go to the police force, I received a letter from my village master that Loucas Hajioannou wrote him a letter requesting him to recommend a good student for his business in Piraeus.

“That’s how I got into shipping and never regretted.

“I have lived shipping in all its forms. The highest freight rates, especially for tankers, after the last closure of the Suez Canal in 1973-1974. Poor rates not covering the vessel’s running costs. The biggest failure of a Greek company, owners of about 65 tankers.

“I will not spoil your time here with more of my achievements, but I want to thank everybody I have done business with. I apologise if I was ever too hard for you but please excuse me for placing the interests of my employers above all.

“I could feel I was making a serious omission if I did not mention the man who unfortunately cannot be with us tonight, the one who employed me, got me married, baptised my first child, and helped me in many, many ways. The late Vassos Hajioannou, Polys’ father.

“When I meet him (again), I will have two things to say to him.

“One, that he has left the business in very good hands, and two, his help and trust in me I have never betrayed.”

New blood, fresh ideas, hard work, and loyalty will help Greek shipping stay on top of its game for many generations to come.

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