What are a few unique pieces of career advice that nobody ever mentions?  What are actually beneficial to a career? Who is the most influential mentor to you? These and more we ask people of a noteworthy career to share their views and tips for an ideal path into maritime business.

Mrs. Dorothea Ioannou, Managing Director (Greece) and Global Business Development Director, The American Club, explains how she realised that shipping industry is the best choice for a challenging career and personal advancement. She further mentions that, along with her current responsibilites, the opportunity to create the next talent pool of marine insurance professionals is equaly rewarding.

SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry?

Dorothea Ioannou: I am a lawyer of Greek Cypriot heritage born and raised in the US and licensed in NY but I moved to Greece in 1997.  While I was working at a law firm in the early days I came to the realization that I probably wasn’t going to be able to compete successfully since I spoke Greek as a second language and a lawyer’s power is skilled speech. So I researched my options based on my skills, interests and the market in Greece and despite having no connections in the industry I made a conscious choice that shipping was the answer to my search for a matching challenging career with the best potential for my own personal advancement. I answered an ad in the Naftemboriki and found a job at small maritime law firm with a starting wage of 150 euros a month!!!! This, after coming from a city where even a fresh associate makes that per hour! I knew though that I needed to build experience, credibility and my network in order to advance and that’s what I did. It wasn’t long before I broke into the marine insurance sector and that was the real beginning of defining who I was in this industry.

S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you?

D.I.: There are many things that excite me especially now that I am responsible for building our overall strategy for growth on a global level which I absolutely love but I think just as rewarding and exciting is having the opportunity to create the next talent pool of marine insurance professionals!!

S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape?

D.I.: I would love it if regulators actually brought more practitioners in to research the issues thoroughly on a practical business level before passing regulation. I believe that governments tend to be reactionary in passing laws quite often based on singular incidents as opposed to studying a business sector as a whole. It is very important to balance all the factors that play a role when taking regulatory action as it is just as detrimental to stifle growth through micro managing regulatory action.

S4S: Who is/was the most influential person to you & why?

D.I.: When you review the course of your career there will be a number of people who influence you and if you are lucky like me it will have been positive influences such as the career mentors I have had in my life.  However, if I want to look at the core and rooted influence in my life I think I have to go back to the beginning and say it was my grandmother with my parents obviously playing a big role instilling in me my basic moral code and work ethic. But it was my grandmother who made me believe I was someone special who could do literally anything I put my mind to. She is still actually waiting for me to be elected the first woman president of the United States!!

S4S: Best piece of advice you've been given?

D.I.:I’ve had two wonderful mentors who gave me each valuable advice. My first mentor when I entered the marine insurance industry grilled into my mindset from day one, that no matter how much I know, how much I think I know, and how much I grow to know, I will always have a lot to learn!  This methodology was key to my advancement. My second and ongoing mentor, Vince Solarino the President and COO of SCB, Inc, managers of the American Club, embedded in me the mindset of being a problem solver. You see it is very easy for people to point out the problems, anyone can do that. However it much more difficult and courageous  to tackle the problem and try to pave the way to overcome the obstacles instead of just complaining  about them. The former method will gain you credibility and help you move up while the latter will brand you as poison in the corporate environment.

S4S:If you could tell your 18-year-old-self one thing, what would it be?

D.I.: As you take each step, don’t forget to really experience and live each moment. Don’t pass over a moment as you seek your “what’s next”.

S4S: What is your personal motto?

D.I.:First, be kind! Second, be generous! Third, always take one step at a time when looking for “what’s next”!


About Dorothea Ioannou

Managing Director (Greece) and Global Business Development Director, The American Club

Dorothea Ioannou obtained her Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law in New York in 1996 and remains to date, a member of the New York State Bar Association.  After relocating to Greece in 1997 she initially worked in local law firms dealing with cases involving European law, U.S. law, and general maritime law.  In January of 1998, Dorothea entered the Marine Insurance Industry when she joined Allied Insurance Brokers Ltd. to manage the Marine Insurance Claims Department and served as Legal Advisor for Insurance/Brokerage matters. Dorothea first joined SCB (Hellas) Inc., the Piraeus Claims Liaison Office for the American P&I Club, as a Claims Executive when the office opened in 2005 and took on the general management of the office in December 2009, as well as Business Development Director for the region. Dorothea is responsible for the day to day running of the Piraeus Office including supervision of all staff, represents the Club and its Managers in the region and also stands on the Executive Committee of the NY Management Company, Shipowners Claims Bureau, Inc. (of which she was the first woman member). Dorothea was named Global Business Development Director as of June 2015, making her the first woman to occupy a top level global executive position in the history of the American Club and its Managers, Shipowners Claims Bureau, Inc.  In this role, Dorothea’s main focus is coordinating business development efforts globally across all regions and across all business products. Over the past 18 years of her career Dorothea has handled, advised on and directed the management of all types of maritime claims relating to P&I/FD&D but also Strike, LOH, and H&M insurance policies.  As a result, Dorothea is a frequent speaker at shipping conferences both in Greece and abroad on aspects of Marine Insurance as well as developing hot topics impacting on the shipping industry. Dorothea is also a the proud mother of a 16 year old daughter and takes this role as seriously as her shipping career gearing all her choices to ensure she stands as a positive role model not only for her daughter but young women in general. Finally, it should be noted that Dorothea is an active member and supporter of WISTA Hellas and currently serves a second two year term as Vice President on the Board.