In our special column this month, we are pleased to host an interview with Capt Sudhir Malhotra, Senior surveyor, NorthStandard who encourages us to always enjoy the journey; that is what life is all about. ”When you join the dots you will realise that it is all part of a journey which is taking you to some place nice.” he says and describes his own journey and how he join marine consultancy as an accident investigator, an expert witness, and attended some high-profile casualties including the Costa Concordia.
apt Malhotra would like to change the perception that seafarers are commodities instead of key workers who create immense value by keeping the wheels of the supply chain rolling. ”Should any more seafarers buckle under these exacting conditions, the world may face issues with the supply chain.”, he concludes.
SAFETY4EA: How did it come about that you joined the shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Capt Sudhir Malhotra: The romance of the sea came to me as my father was a Captain before coming ashore to an illustrious shore-based career. As a young boy, I would hear fascinating stories about ships, crews, cargo, and ports which became the impelling force behind my choice of a career in maritime. The rest is history. I sailed for 14 years on various ship types from bulkers to tankers, cargo, and container ships. My last stint at sea was on cruise ships before coming ashore in London to a superintendent position for a Japanese shipowner. Subsequently I joined a marine consultancy as an accident investigator, an expert witness, and attended some high-profile casualties including the Costa Concordia.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
Capt. S.M.: In my current role in P&I, no two days are quite the same. I get to travel, meet, and meaningfully engage with a broad range of shipping companies and shipping professionals. The variety of work and the fantastic opportunity to engage with some of the most interesting people is what really excites me. I also participate in some rigorous projects within the club which really gets my thinking cap out and creative juices flowing.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who’s the first person who comes to mind and why?
Capt. S.M.: Our key workers in the seafaring community are the silent warriors who keep the cogs of world trade turning. They are the true heroes and symbols of success in my eyes. Being of Indian origin myself, I am most impressed with the success of Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft), Sundar Pichai (CEO of Google), and our current UK PM Rishi Sunak. Finally, my maternal great grandfather, Samuel Evan Stokes, who brought apples from America to Himachal Pradesh, India in the early twentieth century is a true inspiration for me as his long-term vision has transformed a State in India and improved so many lives even today.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why?
Capt. S.M.: It is difficult to name just one mentor as I have met so many fantastic individuals over the journey of my career who have tacitly mentored or sometimes outright inspired me. Be it the persons who first influenced and helped me to go out to sea, or those colleagues and peers who have steadfastly guided me through my career. My father remains my most valuable mentor and someone I can go to for practical advice or as a sounding board.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given and why?
Capt. S.M.: Best piece of advice has been to trust my instinct, explore opportunities, and not be single dimensioned but always hungry for knowledge and new challenges. I don’t really remember any bad piece of advice which is a good thing as I didn’t pay much notice to it.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
Capt. S.M.: A good direction would be gaining a wide range of experience and getting involved in different projects and facets of shipping. Be it sailing on varied ship types while at sea or being involved with litigious work as an accident investigator, giving evidence in High Court as an expert witness, a superintendent ashore, or now within a P&I Club. The pursuit of variety has broadened my knowledge and expertise within the industry and gives me a lot of self-confidence.
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.M.: Not to cower from challenges and “the unknown” which is easier said than done! Eventually, in hindsight when you join the dots you will realise that it is all part of a journey which is taking you to some place nice. And, of course, always enjoy the journey because that is what life is all about.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
Capt. S.M.: Being relationship focused, and interacting positively with colleagues and peers has been of great value to me, especially through the pandemic. Public speaking allowed me to present my thoughts and opinions on varied topics which has done wonders for my confidence and helped me connect and network with some fantastic individuals.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
Capt. S.M.: I would like to change the perception that seafarers are commodities instead of key workers who create immense value by keeping the wheels of the supply chain rolling. The pandemic, followed by the Ukraine war, resulted in a lot of uncertainty for seafarers especially when it comes to signing on and off ships, bringing on a slew of mental and physical wellbeing challenges. Should any more seafarers buckle under these exacting conditions, the world may face issues with the supply chain.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
Capt. S.M.: “NIHIL ULTRA – Nothing beyond.” This is actually the motto of my alma mater “St Xavier’s Collegiate School, Calcutta”; however, this has stuck with me throughout my life and helps me focus and strive for better. It means that we should continuously stive to better ourselves and those around us with a vision to promote a society based on freedom, liberty, equality, justice, and fraternity. These philosophical tenets are a personal driver and a personal motto.
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.