In our special column, we are pleased to host an interview with Astrid Seltmann, Analyst/actuary of Cefor, (the Nordic Association of Marine Insurers) , who is fascinated by her current role in the Association as it gives her the opportunity to monitoring global developments in the shipping industry, staying updated on trends, meeting people from around the world, and contributing to safety initiatives at sea. Astrid encourages us to understand alternatives in challenging situations, and highlights the importance of personal responsibility in decision-making.
hen it comes to data and analytics of the maritime industry, Astrid expresses her concern about the risk of being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of available information and emphasizes the importance of prioritizing a clear understanding of objectives and business intelligence goals. Finally, she advocates for letting these objectives guide the selection of data and tools, rather than being solely influenced by the abundance of available data.
SAFET4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Astrid Seltmann: In terms of education, I studied natural sciences, in particular mathematics/statistics and physics. After graduation, I started my professional career as non-life actuary in reinsurance. My goal has always been to work in an international environment, so reinsurance seemed a good match for both my qualifications and personal interests. In reinsurance, I also got involved with marine insurance, but dealt with all types of non-life insurance from an actuarial perspective. Apart from that, I always have had a maritime interest as well. During my studies, I spent many summers sailing in the Baltic Sea and developed a strong interest for navigation, weather and the whole scope of maritime issues and acquired various skipper licences for pleasure boats. After moving to Norway of private reasons, the opportunity turned up to join Cefor, the Nordic Association of Marine Insurers, as their analyst. Cefor was about to develop a database to compile world fleet and casualty trends to support loss prevention initiatives and gain business intelligence relevant to marine insurers. This allowed me to use my analytic competence in a global context and supported by a strong Nordic maritime cluster with high maritime competence at all levels.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
A.S.: As a trade association we monitor all developments in the shipping industry closely. My role at Cefor thus allows me to stay up to date on all trends, be it global economy and trade, technical developments, regulatory aspects or in recent years sustainability aspects. For many years, I have further represented the Nordic market on a committee of the International Union of Marine Insurers. As part of this global community, I can both enhance my competence in all relevant areas and meet exciting people from all over the world. I also can be influential at times by e.g. supporting global initiatives to improve safety at sea via suited casualty trend analyses. In addition, I am part of a strong Nordic maritime cluster with high competence at all levels and which is at the forefront of many maritime developments.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why?
A.S.: I haven’t had one single mentor but met various people who inspired me, were role models, supported me, and gave me the courage to follow my path. One key moment was when I as a young student joined a sailing trip, and the rest of the crew were older persons with a lot of experience in various sectors, who both fully accepted me as equal part of the crew and shared valuable insights with me. One became a good friend and kind of a mentor for me in my transition from student to starting my professional career. Of great value else were those persons who made me understand the importance of taking responsibility for your own life and decisions. When you meet challenges, it is essential to understand that there are nearly always several alternatives for how you can act to overcome these, and that you can play an active role in influencing how things develop further.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given and why?
A.S.: The worst I know are people who either try to discourage you, or who tell you what you should do but exclusively from their own perspective without trying to understand who you are. What fits best for other is not necessarily what fits best for you.
Good advice comes from those who show that they believe in your abilities and inspire you the courage to get out of your comfort zone from time to time and grab interesting opportunities when these turn up.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
A.S.: Working in an international context. It challenges your view on things and gives you a lot of exciting insights you probably would not get if you only stayed in one place. Besides, as the industry I chose to join has a very global nature, learning to cooperate across borders is key and very enriching both from professional and private point of view.
S4S: If you could give a piece of advice to your 18-year-old-self one thing, what would it be and why? What piece of advice should you ignore?
A.S.: Try to understand who you are, what your real interests are, and pursue your path. But keep in mind that there is not only one single solution but usually more than one option which may be a good choice for you. Ignore people trying to discourage you. If there is something you really burn for, normally there should be some way to get there as well.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
A.S.: Two of the last five years were very different due to the Corona pandemic. As most of my work contacts live in different geographic places, I believe we all have understood the value of electronic communication by now, but at the same time the importance of meeting in person at least from time to time to build such relations as then also will work over distance.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
A.S.: The core of my work is related to data and analytics, and there is a lot of talk in the industry about more data, more analytics, machine learning, sensors, autonomous vessels, electronic monitoring of the state of things onboard vessels and whatever. While data and computing may assist greatly with a lot of things, it is also easy to get lost in the amount of data by now in some way or other available. From my perspective, I view it as essential to first develop a clear idea of the purpose and which type of business intelligence you want to gain, as this then decides both which type of data you need to collect and which tools to use, but not the other way around.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
A.S.: Stay true to yourself.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.