In our special column this month, we are glad to host an interview with Mr. Gavin Allwright, Secretary General – International Windship Association (IWSA), who says that working across sectors is a valuable investment, as it gives a rounded approach to one’s career.
r. Allwright joined the shipping industry via a sustainability route, working on the development of a zero-emissions sail cargo vessel. As the Secretary General of a not-for-profit organisation promoting wind propulsion solutions in commercial shipping, he advocates for embracing an inclusive, holistic, multi-faceted and learning approach, while, at the same time, putting ESG at the heart of all decision making.
SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Gavin Allwright: I joined the shipping industry via a sustainability route and directly through my work for a not-for-profit organisation working on the development of a zero-emissions sail cargo vessel specially designed for developing countries. My Master’s degree focused on small scale shipping and the sustainable development benefits accrued from low carbon vessel operations in LDC/SIDs.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
G.A.: As the Secretary General of the International Windship Association I am able to get hands on with many of the key challenges facing shipping, especially the multi-faceted challenge of decarbonisation and sustainability in the industry. I also love working with visionaries, innovators and pioneers, so inspiration is never in short supply.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who’s the first person who comes to mind and why?
G.A.: It is not a single person but a group of people, Seafarers. Maybe that is cheating, however they have successfully navigated an incredibly difficult period in maritime logistics and kept the cogs of trade and the world’s economy moving. Their dedication, discipline and resilience is the very definition of ‘being successful’ in my book.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why?
G.A.: That probably has to be my father, a seafarer himself as a navy diver and underwater munitions and disposal specialist. His advice, strength of character and withering critiques were my early anchor in life and continue as a significant part of my compass going forward.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given and why?
G.A.: The best piece of advice I have been given was from my father, he told me that you can always find a thousand reasons to say no, but you only need one reason to say yes. That has seen me through a lot of tough times and continues to guide a lot of work I do. As for the worst piece of advice, career-wise, ‘follow the money’
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
G.A.: Working across sectors is a really valuable investment. I think there is real value in having a fully rounded approach to your career and getting out of your comfort zone is priceless when working on projects. Getting hands on with a placement in the field, whether that is working on a ship, building a house or being on the factory floor and then bring those experiences back into the classroom and boardroom.
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?
G.A.: Don’t be worried about an unconventional career pathway, but perhaps be a little more focused too. The destination may not be clear, but if you dedicate yourself to each stage, then you will be ready to grasp the opportunities when they present themselves. Don’t just ‘make do’ with a situation. Ignore anyone telling you that doing something worthwhile is going to be easy or necessarily rewarded financially.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
G.A.: The word ‘Honourable’ is rather old fashioned and maybe has dated connotations but acting honourably, with integrity is to me the bed rock of business life, or at least should be. Building trust and relationships takes years and can be gone in a second. When I look at challenges in my business life or wider economy, most are built on a lack or loss of trust which is the road to exploitation rather than collaboration.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
G.A.: Diversity in the industry is very important as it helps build resilience. However, the biggest change is being able to identify, appreciate and flexibly deliver ‘change’ itself. The climate emergency and pressures to decarbonise shipping demand change at all levels and in all things. Integrating ESG at the very heart of all decision making is critical. Embracing an inclusive, holistic, multi-faceted and learning approach can only reap rewards in the future.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
G.A.: Don’t promise the earth, just deliver it.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.