Daniela explains us that maritime industry needs to embrace the Ocean Technology revolution; in this regard, people need to become more open-minded in supporting startups and building partnerships with associated stakeholders, putting sustainable practices at the center.

SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined the shipping industry  and your field of expertise specifically?

Daniela Fernadez: I decided to start Sustainable Ocean Alliance because I realized that young people were not being included in high-level conversations that will decide the fate of our ocean. In addition, I realized that there was an urgent need for entrepreneurial solutions if we were to move forward to address these ocean-related problems.

S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?

D.F.: What most excites me about being the founder and CEO of Sustainable Ocean Alliance is that I get to interface with so many young people from all over the world that have incredible ideas and passion to put these initiatives and projects forward. All they require is a catalyst, funding, and mentorship support from our organization to make their ideas come to life.

S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why?

D.F.: The most influential person that has shaped my career has been Al Gore and his film “An Inconvenient Truth.” I was 12 years old when I first watched the film and it inspired me to dedicate my life to protect our planet and solve climate change.

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?

D.F.: If I could give a piece of advice to my 18-year-old self, it would be to never apologize for dreaming too big. The reason is that when you have a groundbreaking and revolutionary idea, many times others may not understand it and may not support you. But regardless of the naysayers, you have to trust your gut instinct and follow through with your vision instead of giving up when people don't agree with you.

One piece of advice that I ignored was to go through the corporate ladder, work my way through a certain organization to then have an impact. I believe that we have a very limited time, specifically only 10 years, to help address this major climate crisis. If you want to have an impact, you have to decide when the time is right. And the right time is always the present.

S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?

D.F.: In the last five years a new behavior that has most improved my business life has been meditation and journaling. I try to meditate at least twice a day and I also journal all of the learnings and insights that I have every week. I also never stop learning. I'm always reading articles or books about how to improve as a CEO and as a leader.

S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?

D.F.: What I would love to change in the current maritime landscape is how the industry views the Ocean Technology revolution. I would like to see people be more open-minded in supporting startups and building partnerships with entrepreneurs working towards solutions and implementing a system-wide approach to sustainable practices.

S4S: What is your personal motto?

D.F.: One of the quotes that I live by is from Margaret Mead, “​Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”​ This is my personal motto because I know that it takes one person to make a decision to start a movement, and it also takes a dedicated group to scale that movement and help it grow and I believe that individuals have to choose to help protect our planet.



About Daniela V. Fernadez,

Founder and CEO of Sustainable Ocean Alliance, award-winning social entrepreneur, thought leader, and international speaker on the entrepreneurial mindset, ocean innovation, and technology, youth empowerment, and sustainability.

At the age of 19, Daniela founded Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) as a college-room idea at Georgetown University. Five years later, she has built SOA into a global organization that is cultivating and accelerating innovative solutions to protect and sustain the health of the ocean. With phenomenal speed, SOA has created the world’s largest network of young ocean leaders – by establishing a presence in over 185 countries and has successfully launched the world’s first Ocean Solutions Accelerator to develop technological solutions that can address the greatest threats facing our planet.

How can we cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in the next generation? What are the leading technologies that can be implemented to help address the challenges facing our environment? How can established companies harness the power of young people? What trends are we seeing in Gen Z and Millennials as consumers, employees, and future business leaders? Daniela is answering these critical questions that will influence the new wave of entrepreneurs and redefine the relationship between emerging technologies, mitigating climate change, restoring ocean health, as well as social good.