This time of the year always gives a great opportunity to consider lessons learned and set new year’s resolutions for new beginnings. For that matter, Mrs. Eleni Polychronopoulou, President, HEMEXPO – Hellenic Marine Equipment Manufacturers & Exporters, makes an assessment of 2021 and shares her message for the new year across the global maritime community.
SAFETY4SEA: How would you briefly describe 2021? What is your assessment?
Eleni Polychronopoulou: If I had to describe 2021 in one word, it would be: Challenging. The past year has presented many challenges for us all and I think it is important to recognize this.
However, with the challenges have come opportunities, and I would say this has been the case particularly for new technology development and collaborations to address some of the major challenges facing the industry.
S4S: What were the lessons learned for the maritime industry in 2021 and what to keep for the new year moving forwards?
EP: The maritime industry has learned many lessons this year, but it has not been alone. One of the key lessons we all learned was just how important the industry is to the global economy. Ships are responsible for transporting 90% of global trade and events over the last 18 months have demonstrated fully that – without ships – the world economy cannot move forward.
2021 was also a lesson in resilience and taught us how to be more flexible and adapt to change. I think we all realized we can be more flexible than we originally thought.
Technology has played a crucial role this year in how we have adapted to new ways of conducting business. While we expect the pandemic to gradually subside in 2022, going forward we should retain the lessons learnt: the digital skills and capabilities we have gained in working remotely and staying connected are of lasting value to the many instances where meeting in person is not possible.
S4S: Focusing on your area of expertise, what do you think will be the biggest challenge(s) for the industry in 2022?
EP: For the entire shipping industry, the biggest challenge is to find the answers to questions being raised around sustainability and to understand exactly what this entails. This is true not only for 2022 but for many years to come as the industry works towards net zero. It also has the added complexity, or indeed challenge, of needing to be done in an environment which is itself ever-changing.
S4S: What would be the new year’s resolutions for your organization?
EP: In 2022 HEMEXPO is going to support our local community and be more innovative. HEMEXPO is working on a number of new collaborations to support upskilling and training programs to support our people. In addition, we will be working with universities and colleges to help educate the next generation on the range of career options available in the maritime industry.
Being more innovative and investing in R&D projects to develop new products which can offer solutions to industry challenges is also a priority for HEMEXPO next year. We believe that the fastest growing market for our member is digital technologies and solutions, so it is vital that we adapt to the changing needs of the shipping industry and increase our efforts to meet market demands.
S4S: What are you looking forward to in 2022? What would you be most glad about seeing changing in the maritime industry next year?
EP: I am looking forward to continuing to support our members and to building new partnerships across the industry. Like other businesses, what we want as marine equipment manufacturers is to be able to serve the needs of our customers to the maximum extent, and to do that we need to work together to understand how best to support them and to develop solutions which address their requirements. This is why synergies are needed and why collaboration with industry partners is so important.
I have found the secret to success is working with partners that complement your existing skills to strengthen your business offering, and who are aligned with your own organization’s values and ambitions.
S4S: If you could make one wish for the maritime industry for the year to come, what would you ask for?
EP: My one wish would be for clarity on environmental regulations, and for this to include expedited instructions on what is expected of shipping. This is needed, not only for green shipping goals to be achieved, but so that the necessary tools and information is readily available to everyone across the industry and in order that related supply chains can respond. Clarification on environmental regulations is urgently needed to support shipping’s ambitions for sustainability.
The views presented are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.