Capt. Subramaniam notes that it is mistake to consider that we need to change job every 5 years; on the contrary, it is important to grow and blossom within an organization. Also, he wishes industry would stop putting the blame on seafarers for things which are out of their control just because the shore managements don’t take adequate responsibility.
SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Capt Hari Subramaniam: Shipping is in my blood and can be termed as a family profession with a raft of seafarers emerging from my extended family. It seemed that there was no other option and whilst it sounds bad like I didn’t have a choice, looking back, I’m glad in this respectable profession and if I had more choices back then I would still have chosen a career in shipping.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
Capt. H.S.: The opportunity to actively and effectively contribute towards making our marine industry a safer and better one is what excites me the most in my current role. The Shipowners’ Club, with whom I have been working with for the last 11 years also shares the same ideology and provides me with the perfect platform for this thereby making this a win-win association. This facilitates direct engagement with the Seafarers and nearly all the other stakeholders in the industry including Flag Administrations, Classification societies, Insurance Brokers, Correspondents, Law firms, Industry Associations such as the Nautical Institute, Maritime colleges and Charitable organizations such as the Mission to Seafarers.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who's the first person who comes to mind and why?
Capt. H.S.: Singapore’s Founding father and First prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) is the person whose vision and ideology has left a lasting impression on me. His achievements in building Singapore from scratch against all odds to put Singapore in an envious position on the World map bears testimony that he walked the talk!!
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why ?
Capt. H.S.: My father, Capt H Subramaniam who was one of the pillars of Maritime Training in India and Principal Emeritus of the LBS Nautical College in India. Dad is also the author of 8 nautical textbooks – The Nutshell Series by Vijay Publications which is used by seafarers across the world for nautical examinations. Dad has been a role model for many an Indian seafarer and has dedicated his life towards nurturing the Seafaring community in India by spearheading training of seafarers from the pre-sea stages all the way till achieving their Masters COC. Dad is a self made man and seeing his hard work and sacrifices in life to put food not only on our table but also on the table of many a seafarer makes me very proud and fills me with hope and belief. Extremely helpful and encouraging with a firm yet gentle approach to get the best out of people has Dad’s trademark all over it. These are extremely large shoes to fill and if I get even anywhere close to it would be some achievement.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you've ever been given and why?
Capt. H.S.: The best advice I’ve been given is to hang in there and not give up. If you are in the worst condition you can imagine, things can only get better from there. The worst piece of advice I’ve been given is to switch jobs every 5 years irrespective as the organization takes you for granted for any longer. No successful person will agree with that and its important you grow with an organization and blossom with it.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
Capt. H.S.: The decision to sail on different types of vessels during my sailing career often prompted comments such as jack of all trades and master on none. However, in this stage of my life, although I didn’t put all my eggs in one basket and specialize in any one segment of shipping, I find myself much better off with the varied experiences and am able to assist an extended pool of stakeholders with technical advice. This experience in my opinion is the best career investment I’ve made.
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. H.S.: My advice would be - Make shipping your career, not a job. Ride out the storm and don’t stop till you don the four stripes and take command. Ignore distractions providing temporary easier avenues..remember there is no gain without pain!
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
Capt. H.S.: Hardships are part and parcel of your life and you must roll with the punches. Always remember there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve seen these up and down cycles long enough to vouch for it. One of the things I’ve learned recently and has turned out to be a decisive factor is to keep my head down and get on with it.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
Capt. H.S.: In the maritime industry, sadly the Master and the seafarers in general are made scapegoats with systems and practices unfairly stacked up against them. With lesser number of seafarers manning vessels nowadays, the demands placed on them appear lopsided and in many ways unfair. It pains me to see seafarers conveniently getting blamed time and again for circumstances out of their control just because the shore managements don’t take adequate responsibility.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
Capt. H.S.:” Impossible is Nothing” – it’s not original but I love its energy, positivity and never say die attitude
About Capt. Hari Subramaniam, Regional Head - Business Relations, Shipowners Club
Hari’s sailing career spanned over 17 years on a wide range of vessels including main fleet, domestic and offshore vessels. After three years in command, he came ashore and headed the Commercial and Operations department of a reputable shipping company which owned and operated bulk carriers, offshore vessels, tugs and barges. Hari then moved on to help start-up the operations of a leading offshore company which owned and operated several state-of-the-art AHTSVs and PSVs. Hari then joined The Shipowners’ Club in Sep 2009 overseeing the development and growth of the Loss Prevention Department till November 2019. In the last 10 years, apart from running the Club’s Global Ship Inspection Programme from Singapore, he and his team provide marine technical expertise to various industry stakeholders and as well as facilitating tailored training sessions, audits, seminars and risk management strategies based on claims causation analysis.
Hari has now assumed a larger role as Regional Head – Business relations whereby he will enhance deeper engagement with key stakeholders to conceptualize programmes to improve safety awareness and risk management ethos across the industry. The Club’s deep involvement in smaller tonnage in the region allows him to tap into that rich vein of knowledge. Hari has a MBA degree in Human Resources and International management and a Post Graduate Diploma in Maritime Law. He is the Vice-President of The Nautical Institute (Singapore branch) and also is a Member of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (MICS). Hari is also a qualified ISO 9001/ISM Lead auditor and a navigational assessor.