SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Despoina Theodosiou: Being a captain’s daughter, it was probably destiny! My field of expertise however, it was by chance, I did not choose it, it chose me. I love my job and I have been in this industry since I was 24 years old.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
D.Th.: There are multiple layers to what I do. Apart from managing a group of companies I am also President of WISTA International and on the board of various organizations like the Cyprus Shipping Chamber and the Cyprus Maritime Academy. What excites me most is that every day is different, there is no routine, and the fact that I can offer back to my team but also to our industry.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who's the first person who comes to mind and why?
D.Th.: I am not sure if he is the definition of the word successful, as he still has things to prove, but I do admire Elon Musk for being a visionary business leader.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why ?
D.Th.:It is interesting that at different times of my life and career I had different people that influenced me. It is not strange though, because people and situations change with time. I wouldn’t say I had a mentor; I rather did things my way from the beginning – either I was eventually right or wrong. But there are people in our industry that I admire.
S4S:What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you've ever been given and why?
D.Th.: Best advice: whatever you do, be the best at it – my parents always pushed me to excel, and although at times I did not like it, now after many years I appreciate that they did.
Worst advice: Give it up – worst advice for obvious reasons! And I did not take the advice, I did the exact opposite.
S4S:What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
D.Th.: Continuing my studies. It is not an easy thing to do when you have professional and family obligations, but I do not regret advancing my education.
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.Th.: Be ambitious, decide what you want to do and pursue it, and always be true to yourself. And if you fail, it does not matter – try again. I would ignore the advice to play it safe – when you are young you are allowed to make mistakes and you have the time to correct them.
S4S:In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
D.Th.: The belief that our company must be successful without me (and my husband who is joint CEO). I decided to stop micromanaging. It has not been easy to do that but it has allowed us to grow and build a strong team that carries Tototheo Maritime into the future.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
D.Th.: In my area of expertise, I would like for our industry to accept that technology is our ally and not an enemy. In a traditional industry like shipping, it is not easy to do, but attitudes are changing. For the broader industry, I support the promotion of sustainable shipping and sustainable maritime development. The world relies on shipping and we must do our best to make sure that it is fair, secure, efficient and innovative.
S4S:What is your personal motto?
D.Th.: Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.
About Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, TOTOTHEO MARITIME
Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou is joint Chief Executive Officer of TOTOTHEO MARITIME, a leading global supplier of equipment and services for satellite and radio communications as well as bridge navigation systems, automated applications, ship repairs and operational efficiency solutions.
Despina is President of WISTA International and board member of various organizations like the Cyprus Shipping Chamber, the Cyprus Maritime Academy etc.
Leading international shipping publication Lloyd’s List selected Despina as one of the Top 100 Most Influential people in shipping in 2017 and she attained a further credit as one of Lloyd’s List’s Top 5 Next Generation executive.
She holds degrees from the National and Capodistrian University of Athens, the Copenhagen Business School and the University of Oxford – Said Business School.