In our special column this month, we are pleased to host an interview with Mr. Panos Zachariadis, Technical Director, Atlantic Bulk Carriers Management Ltd, who received the GREEN4SEA Personality Award last year for his valuable contribution to the Hellenic Shipping Industry on various technical and environmental aspects. Mr. Zachariadis shares worthwhile milestones in his career, highlighting that his decision to sail as engine crew (third engineer) in a bulk carrier and an oil tanker for a full year after obtaining his degree was a unique experience. This assisted him in communicating properly with seagoing personnel, having faith that his instructions to them were technically correct and doable.
SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Panos Zachariadis: I always loved the sea, sea life and, of course, boats and ships. I wanted to be a ship designer / naval architect since I remember myself. The state of Greek Universities at the time of finishing high school, just after the fall of the Greek junta, was that of extreme political polarization. So, I turned my attention toward studying abroad and, through some turns and twists of fate, I finally studied in the USA.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
P.Z.: I love shipping in general. It is such a multi-faceted industry. Apart from the everyday tasks of e.g. ensuring the ships are well maintained and well stocked with spares, assisting the engine crew to perform their job, I take satisfaction in being part of the Greek delegation to IMO contributing to shaping international regulations. On that front the challenges are big; environmental regulations, cybersecurity, autonomous ships and so on.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who’s the first person who comes to min and why?
P.Z.: It is not one person only. I admire the many self-made Greek shipowners who became world shipping leaders having a Master Mariner background. But I also admire second or third generation young shipowners who can keep the company that was handed to them successful and even expand it. They did not get spoiled, they continued the vision of their parents, via very hard work.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why ?
P.Z.: My mother. She instilled the idea in us that if you are determined and work hard you can achieve your goals. Despite our modest means, she encouraged me to pursue my “dream” of becoming a Naval Architect even if that meant going far away, alone at a very young age, at a time of no mobile phones and internet, the main method of communication being the postal service!
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given and why?
P.Z.: Best advice: Given to me by the company manager when I was starting my career as an assistant superintendent engineer for my first newbuilding project in Japan: “Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut”. Worst advice: I really tried to remember what was the worst advice given to me but I can’t. Maybe that’s a blessing in disguise. It probably means such advise was quickly dismissed!
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
P.Z.: My decision early on, to sail as engine crew (third engineer) in a bulk carrier and an oil tanker for a full year after obtaining my degree. That provided the required experience to be able to communicate properly with seagoing personnel, having faith that my instructions to them were technically correct and doable.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
P.Z.: Most of the current environmental regulations for ships’ emissions, as well as those in development for GHG. Although they start well intentioned, the final result does not really help the environment. For example, the indices used for rating the environmental efficiency of ships are quite meaningless, and it hurts when I see serious individuals and organizations (e.g. EU, Poseidon Principles etc.) to consider them synonymous to real efficiency. It will not help the planet if we think that low EEDI or EEOI means reduced CO2, nor if we think that LNG is better than conventional fuels.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
P.Z.: “I must do something” solves more problems than “Something must be done”.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
Mr. Panos Zachariadis is a Mechanical Engineer (BSc) and Naval Architect (MSE) from the University of Michigan with a 35-year experience in shipping. Mr. Zachariadis has served for years as Marine Superintendent in New York, after periods of shipbuilding supervision in Japan and sea service in bulk carriers and oil tankers. Since 1997, he is Technical Director of Atlantic Bulk Carriers Management Ltd. Since 2004, he is a member of the Greek Delegation to IMO. He has contributed to the development of several well-known regulations, such as GBS, PSPC, FSA, and the prevention of others (e.g. double hull bulk carriers). In cooperation with major Korean shipyards he has applied numerous energy saving ideas, some of which have become industry standards. Mr. Zachariadis is a member of Technical Committees of several classification societies, UGS and Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, BIMCO Marine Committee, BoD HELMEPA and MARTECMA. Furthermore, Mr. Zachariadis has written numerous technical guides, papers and articles and has received global recognition for promoting Greek Shipping internationally.