In our special column for May, we are glad to host an interview with Nicole Rencoret, Head of Communications and Development, Sustainable Shipping Initiative who has an interesting and multi-national background before joining SSI. In her current role, she is excited to work with many stakeholders towards a more sustainable industry, and being an advocate for cooperation, she mentions that shipping alone will not change the current landscape. As she notes, the fact that global shippers have joined forces, is a huge step for a real change.
In addition, Nicole gives us tips for improved business life. No telephone by the bed and no checking emails until after breakfast has truly worked for her. She also advises us to be on the move: ‘try everything you possibly can. Be curious. Ask questions.’
SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined the shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Nicole Rencoret: After more than 15 years working in sustainable development and humanitarian operations around the world (with the UN and other organisations), I decided to switch to the corporate sector where I could apply my skills to a similarly global industry with complex stakeholder networks that is the backbone of world trade. Shipping fit the bill. While it may seem like a radical change, I’ve actually maintained a consistent sustainability thread throughout my career.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
N.R.: As the Head of Communications and Development at the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI), I get to work closely with SSI members who themselves are inspiring sustainability leaders. They span the entire shipping value chain, ranging from charterers, shipowners and shipyards to banks, ship finance and insurance providers as well as classification societies. While their companies are certainly impressive, what excites me more is working with individual members at a human level, building relationships and trying to figure out how we can collectively make a dent and drive change for a more sustainable maritime industry.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who’s the first person who comes to mind and why?
N.R.: Samantha Power, whose very personal and compelling memoir I’m currently reading. An idealist yet at the same time a pragmatic leader whose story shows that true success is not the shiny happy perfect life seen from the outside; rather, it’s the messy stuff that often comes with its own set of complex – and at times conflicting – personal, family and work stories.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why ?
N.R.: My husband: A confidant who listens; a sparring partner who challenges; a thinker who indulges my curiosity.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given and why?
N.R.: Don’t let anyone define what your success looks like. Define success on your own terms. Working in a massive bureaucracy I once saw career progress as linear – climbing up the ranks, with success reflected on getting to be the top boss. I now see success as achieving in areas that I have identified as important to me – not a grade or pay level, nor a title.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
N.R.: My MBA that I embarked for my mid-career transition. A major investment of energy, time and money – and a risky one at that! – but so worth it.
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.R.: Three things (!),with a consistent theme: Try everything you possibly can. Be curious. Ask questions. Why? Because life is rich and it would be a shame to miss out on what it has to offer.
Advice to ignore: Don’t try anything. Stay ignorant. Don’t ask.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
N.R.: No telephone by the bed and no checking emails until after breakfast. Also winter bathing in Scandinavia!
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
N.R.: I see change in the current maritime landscape being driven by stakeholders outside the sector. Shipping alone will not change shipping. Shippers like the Ikeas, Heinekens and Unilevers of this world are connecting the dots and realising their enormous leverage and capacity to make change in supply chains happen through the market. And those with the money! – the investors, the lenders…they are increasingly wielding their influence and demanding sustainability not as a CSR side project, but as an integrated part of business operations.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
N.R.: Learn. Laugh. And love. All the rest will fall into place.
About Nicole Rencoret
Nicole Rencoret is a facilitator of conversations, an engager of stakeholders and a believer in the power of partnerships. Nicole joined the Sustainable Shipping Initiative Secretariat in September 2018 where she is responsible for strategic communications and thought leadership, stakeholder engagement and development for the SSI and Ship Recycling Transparency Initiative. She has specific expertise in sustainable development policy and strategy, organisational strategy and learning as well as multi-stakeholder initiatives. An Australian/Chilean national, Nicole’s career has seen her live and work with the UN and other development-related organisations across the globe in Timor-Leste, Switzerland, Kenya, Niger, USA, Palestine, Haiti, Colombia, Fiji and Denmark (where she is currently based). She graduated with an MBA from Warwick Business School and also holds an MA in Professional Communication.