Working as the Communications Director for BV, he really enjoys engaging with stakeholders towards a safer and more sustainable future. At the early stages of his career, Mr. Brown spent few months onboard a multi-purpose ship, which was a worthwhile experience. Concluding, he highlights the need for more women in the sector as 'we need to evolve from the overwhelming dominance of the shipping man'.
SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Nick Brown: Why shipping? I like the sea and shipping people just seemed more interesting and colorful - and it's an important business - a business that is more global than anything else I was looking at when I left University. Why PR and communications? That happened by accident or luck. But it felt right - I like words and pictures, I'm curious and my background in ship owning and operations plus an interest in policy and ideas helped. Apart from an internship with a PR agency when I was a student and some early IR related work with private equity investors, my first PR roles were very much in crisis and issues management, so my initial grounding in ship operating was useful when it came to the nuts and bolts of casualty and emergency response.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
N.Br.: It's all about people and ideas for me - working with people and working out how to tell BV's stories to engage our stakeholders to describe what we do, how we do it and work towards a safer, more sustainable future for shipping. And shipping is important and challenging - our modern world is impossible without shipping but very little effort goes into promoting the industry and its activities at the level of individual company.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who's the first person who comes to mind and why?
N.Br.: It's hard not to think of Onassis. It's also hard to know why he achieved what he did - what drove him. But look at his influence, his legacy - in so many areas. He was a legend in his lifetime and his legacy is not diminished now.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why?
N.Br.: My wife, my family. Every day they put me straight.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you've ever been given and why?
N.Br.: At one point, when I was interested in becoming a shipping journalist, I was warned not to - by a very senior editor - perhaps that was both the best and worst advice. Or a test, that I failed! Maybe I still secretly want to be a journalist.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
N.Br.: When I was a commercial trainee with Wallem I spent 4 months on a multi-purpose ship, trading between the Far East and West Africa - it was a nice ship 22,000 dwt, gear with heavy lift, built Mitsui in 1983, operated by Delmas - and classed by Bureau Veritas. I learned a lot about some important things as a 22 year old during that short time at sea. It was money in the bank and has helped me ever since. We took containers, project cargo and second hand diggers to Africa and loaded logs, and cocoa and coffee, I think, for the return to Asia.
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?
N.Br.: It's tough to give advice. I don't really feel qualified. But I would say don't be afraid to change direction or knock on doors that seem closed. Look at the facts - but listen to your feelings. And the old cliche never take a 'no' as a final answer until you have tried a few more ways to get where you think you want to go.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
N.Br.: Prioritize. Realizing you can't do everything. At least not at the same time. You have to focus and, especially, not worry too much about the stuff you're missing.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
N.Br.: It feels increasingly strange to be in meetings that are all, or nearly all, men - of a certain age. More women of any age and in any sector in shipping must be a good thing. Our organization is committed to improving the gender balance. But it is difficult for shipping when your talent pool from universities producing engineers and naval architects is overwhelmingly male. We can't overlook the experience and talent of our men but, somehow, we need to evolve from the overwhelming dominance of the shipping man.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
N.Br.: Keep it interesting. Always.
About Nick Brown, Communications Director, Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore
Nick Brown joined the Wallem Group in Hong Kong as a commercial trainee in 1991 and held various development roles in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. At INTERCARGO he further developed his understanding of marine commercial, technical and regulatory affairs while representing the association's global shipowner base. As Business Development Manager at e-procurement start-up OneSea.com, he experienced phase 1 of shipping's digital revolution. He has substantial experience of dealing with the media on a daily basis and in crisis situations following major marine casualties. Today he is responsible for promoting and protecting the reputation and interests of the Marine & Offshore business of Bureau Veritas (BV).