SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Capt. Sivaraman Krishnamurthi: Truth be told, it was a second and accidental option to STEM (Science & Tech) back then. I simply grew into it and enjoyed the experience – all 37 years of it. The toughest phases were the most fun. The conventional career selection process for a young person today is to go through elaborate personality profiling, interest quotient and emotional aptitude. The route I took was to go where my nose led. Trust your instincts, jettison fear and baggage. My life and career ran on this fuel alone.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
Capt. S.Kr.: Entrepreneurship into deep tech at the age of 55 goes against time-tested wisdom. That is what excites me the most, I guess. It would tickle me to test the idea that only youth have the claim on tech, adventure or risk.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who's the first person who comes to mind and why?
Capt. S.Kr.: None of the usual suspects, I’m afraid. I would rather think of success as an Utopian ideal. Like intellectual honesty, respect and caring for all nature’s creations. Or to be able to look at errors as the building blocks of product quality and so forth. The moment we start to associate success with personalities, the picture starts to crumble at the edges. The imperfections of human beings are the very things that makes them so beautiful. Success, to me is an ethereal, God-like notion.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why ?
Capt. S.Kr.: In terms of influence my parents would sit comfortably on top of the pile - value systems, genes, warts and all. But within the Industry that has nurtured and supported me, Capt. P.S.Barve, Mr.V.K.Singh, Mr.Philip Wake, Mr.David Patraiko, Mr.Alistair Logan, Capt.Ken Edwards and Capt.K.Vivekanand come to mind immediately. Two traits that run common across these unsung mentors are a hunger to break new ground and a near total absence of fear. Speaking of fear, one can’t forget to mention the missus, of course. A man’s best friend, severest critic and the ultimate First Mate.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you've ever been given and why?
Capt. S.Kr.: Well, I always listened carefully to all advice, weighed the pros and cons with due diligence. Its another matter I never quite followed most of them. This doesn’t mean it was bad advice. It just means I am differently wired.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
Capt. S.Kr.: Without doubt, choosing to study for Mates and Masters in Sydney, Australia. It meant long and painful separation from loved ones, personal sacrifice and expense. The frequent brushes with high academic calibre remains an unmatched experience.
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. S.Kr.: Nothing takes the joy out of life more than the words of a time-traveller from the future. When I look back, I can only laugh in amusement at the day-dreaming, the rebellion, time-wasting and indiscipline. If all those ingredients went into the finished and unpolished product that I am today, then I wouldn’t change one bit of those elements even if I could. My message is that each of us are uniquely gifted and special, even when it clearly doesn’t seem so. It is knowing this that makes all the difference.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your business
Capt. S.Kr.: Over the course of a long and fruitful career, I had started to fall in love with my own hard won world-view. I then spent increasingly unproductive hours combating “lesser and ill-conceived” notions of others. It was while writing a column for a journal when I discovered the ability to laugh aloud at this romance with myself and at the bloated sense of self-importance. That was the black swan moment for me. I don’t know about its impact on business but I certainly started to spend more time listening and empathising. Well, don’t hold me to it – this is still work in progress.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
Capt. S.Kr.: Maritime transport is characterised by high risk and uncertainty at the operational and business levels. This is something I would like to help mitigate. Sensible application of available technology has always been an effective tool. In that context, Data science, AI, IoT are part of the continuum. “Sensible application” requires seamless integration of domain and business expertise with technology. The industry saw a bit of a stumble in this aspect in recent years. But we learn best to walk after we stumble and fall. I would like to see my fellow professionals on ships and ashore stop trying too hard to improve things from within. I know this sounds counter-intuitive. Managing a fleet demands undivided attention in an unforgiving environment. For effective process improvement, they need to step off the treadmill for a while and regard their world calmly. The big opportunities will emerge from that calmness.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
Capt. S.Kr.: If I were to create an aspirational motto for myself, then it would be “Excellence, simplified”.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
About Capt. Sivaraman Krishnamurthi, CEO, TrimSail Digital Solutions
Capt. Sivaraman Krishnamurthi FNI was the past president of The Nautical Institute, London and is currently the founder and CEO of TrimSail Digital Solutions, India. He spent 25 years at sea and 12 years in corporate shipping. He aspires to apply sensible technology to solve maritime challenges.