SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Capt. David Patraiko: It was not easy as nobody in my family had any connection with shipping. However as a child I was an avid reader of history and all the great explorers used ships so I was keen to explore the world on ships from a very early age.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
Capt. D.P.: Shipping can be very procedural but our projects at The Nautical Institute require great creativity and this approach excites me.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who's the first person who comes to mind and why?
Capt. D.P.:When I think of a successful person I think of the original head of the NI Mr Julian Parker, he was both effective and respected and that’s an admiral combination.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why ?
Capt. D.P.:My most influential mentor was Capt Joe Mullaly who was master when I first became Chief Mate at the age of 24. I had no idea of how much I needed to learn but he was patient and taught me loads about tanker operations, seamanship, what it takes to be a good Captain and life in general – thanks Capt Joe!
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you've ever been given and why?
Capt. D.P.:I’ve always been a rather calm person so when I left home at 17 my Mother asked me ‘please’ if I was in a situation where everyone was panicking except for me, to please have another look around!
Worst advice was in 2000 when a financial advisor ensured me that property prices in London could only go down – big mistake. This contrasted to a Greek Captain who told me to always buy land, even if the price went down you could always grow tomatoes.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
Capt. D.P.:Before I left the sea I did a distance learning MBA degree, it was difficult to do at sea without the internet but it gave me a good grounding for coming ashore.
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?
Capt. D.P.:I would advise myself and all other to take as many (safe) experiences as they can, you never know when the knowledge gained will come in handy later in life.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
Capt. D.P.: Probably in the past 5 years it has been video conferencing. In international business you can’t always meet with people (which is always best) but the advantage of video over audio alone is that you still get to see body language which makes a big difference.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
Capt. D.P.: New technology is coming fast and will certainly change shipping. My expectations of our team at The Nautical Institute is that we can continue to support mariners in their professional development to make the best of this new technology while helping the developers of technology to design systems that are usable and fit for purpose to support safe and efficient shipping.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
Capt. D.P.: Never stop learning.
About Capt. David Patraiko, Director of Projects, The Nautical Institute
David coordinates The Nautical Institute’s Technical & Professional Development and IMO Committees. He has led research and produced many papers and articles on training, mentoring, electronic navigation, the associated ‘Human Element’ effects created by technology, and Marine Spatial Planning. A graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (US), he sailed on a variety of international vessels in his twelve years in the Merchant Navy (1985 – 1997). He holds an Unlimited Master Mariners licence, and was awarded an MBA degree from Henley Management College (UK).