14 Feb 2024
by Matt Lamy

First ever Future Leaders Forum to help younger marine professionals

IMarEST’s Head of Events, Jo Lewis, reveals why the upcoming Future Leaders Forum is vital for the health of the marine industry. 

On Wednesday 24th April, IMarEST will be hosting its first ever Future Leaders Forum at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London Tower Bridge. The aim of the event is to support professionals under the age of 35 as they move through the initial stages of a career within the marine industry.  

This focus on younger professionals, IMarEST’s Head of Events Jo Lewis says, is key to maintaining a dynamic and healthy marine industry. 

“So many events focus on mid-to-senior members of staff and there is a lack of provision for early-careers professionals to meet, share ideas, and start to build their own professional network,” Jo says. 

“We also want to give young professionals a voice and to increase their visibility within our membership community, as that will help attract people to the industry. We’re hoping this event will be the first of many and it’s in a format that can be easily replicated around the world.” 

Expanding into new horizons 

That format involves attendees enjoying panel discussions and smaller roundtable focus groups; contributing to in-depth conversations on the challenges and solutions that will shape the future of the industry; and ending with a drinks reception where those present will have the opportunity to meet and network with others from across the sector. 

“The steering group that we’ve formed to help develop the content for this event are really interested in employee welfare, how tech will impact the sector and how [people] can use their transferable skills to move around careers,” Jo enthuses. 

At a time when technological developments are evolving at pace, those career opportunities for younger professionals are seemingly endless. 

“It's well documented that the industry has undergone massive change in the last few decades and will continue to do so,” Jo says.  

“One example is the move to autonomous technology. Whereas before a technologist might have specialised in remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), now a marine technologist in training might be asked to simulate operating a sea-going autonomous ship from a control centre hundreds of miles away. This would have been unthinkable a few decades ago, whereas now we're seeing this become more mainstream.

“For our members under 35, we're seeing a significant chunk have an interest in offshore renewables as a topic, which is encouraging. This is reflected in the IMarEST awards [bestowed] to student research papers on alternative and renewable fuels. This in itself is likely a result of increasing concerns around the environment and part of the sector's efforts to reach net zero.” 

Working together while looking to the future 

Jo is keen to point out that while the Young Leaders Forum is a new event, the goal of attracting young talent is far from a marine-only issue. 

“We all know there is a shortage of people entering STEM careers. This is the case in the UK and abroad, where skilled young professionals are choosing to enter different industries for a number of reasons. It's important that we do all we can to help students and graduates realise the value of a marine career and join the workforce,” Jo says. 

“One of the best bits about my role is that I get to work with so many enthusiastic and motivated young professionals who are all committed to improving the industry. There is a tendency for seasoned professionals with many years of experience to hold important positions, but that’s no different to any sector where people want to give back to the industry when they have the time to do so. 

“So, we face the same issues as any other traditional industry that wants to stay relevant: our industry needs to attract and retain top talent. Although what we do is vital to the global community, there's always a risk that budding engineers, scientists, technologists and other professionals will want to specialise in another field, meaning we miss out and as a result become poorer for it.” 


Find out more about IMarEST’s Future Leaders Forum on April 24th 2024