IMarEST CEO: ‘Professional pride needs to improve’

We speak to IMarEST’s new chief executive officer, Chris Goldsworthy, about his career to date, the biggest challenges facing the maritime industry and the future of IMarEST. 

Please tell us about your maritime career to date 

My marine career started at 19 years old after A-levels as a cadet with P&O Containers [while] attending South Tyneside Marine College for the three-year Higher National Diploma (HND) course. 

I absolutely relished my sea time, all with the same company, which lasted a total of 16 years. I count myself very fortunate to come through my sea time at the time that I did, to experience the traditional watchkeeping on motor and steam vessels, then [to experience] Unattended Machinery Spaces (UMS). 

Still with P&O, but after [the] merger with Royal Nedlloyd, I was invited to come ashore as a seconded fleet superintendent. The intention was to have six months in the office, a short leave, contract at sea, a second six months in the office, then rotate back to permanent sea staff. 

However, after 20 years in ship management ashore, I'm still waiting for the return to sea! Two weeks into my shore career, an assigned vessel had an engine room fire, thankfully with no injuries, and the crew did an exceptional job extinguishing the fire, which led me to leading a nine-week repair in Panama - a steep learning curve. 

Then from owner management, following the acquisition of P&O Nedlloyd by Maersk, I moved into third-party ship management with Columbia Ship Management in Cyprus as technical superintendent, then subsequently as technical manager in charge of the Japanese fleet. The teamwork and change in scope were welcomed and led to inclusion into more company operational and strategic decisions.  

To develop vessel type knowledge, I then accepted a fleet manager role at Bernhard Schulte Ship Management, also in Cyprus, managing a fleet of product, crude, and chemical tankers. Following five years in that role, I accepted a position, fleet director, with a vessel owner in the Netherlands to create a new in-house ship management company, with full P&L responsibility, which involved team selection and building, Safety Management System (SMS) creation and implementation. 

Within 10 months we had 10 vessels in management and had passed a Tanker Management Self Assessment (TMSA) II audit with clean results. 

Then came the movement to Tamar Ship Management in Hong Kong, initially as technical fleet manager, then with the near tripling of the fleet size in three years, led to restructuring and a new role as technical director. 

How do you describe the chief executive position in most companies? 

The chief executive officer role (CEO), since its inception in 1917, is to oversee the day-to-day operations of an organisation. A good CEO should have many qualities such as remembering that success is directly tied to the people who work for, and are integral members of, the team; make sound decisions; adapt when necessary; chase the vision; be familiar with an organisation’s operations as well as its marketing, finance, and human resources functions; be cognisant of the organisation’s competition, its market environment, and its history. 

Why are maritime issues so close to your heart? 

I am extremely passionate about the marine profession, as it impacts the world structure and operation in so many ways. 

All involved in our marine industry should be extremely proud of what we do and should also be recognised as essential to the world economy and standards of living. Professional pride, at all levels in the industry, should be both inherent and implied. Be proud, but cognisant that we can, and must, always be open and enthusiastic to improve safety, [embrace] environmental improvements as a part of efficiency improvements and welcome diversity.   

What are the biggest challenges to the maritime industry moving forward? 

Safety awareness and standards, as always, need to continue to improve. Why, for example, are enclosed spaces still such a risk factor? Time pressure is very much a factor, [so] please remember the motto: better five minutes late in this life, rather than five minutes early to the next one. 

Also, efficiency improvements leading to environmental aspect impacts, not only in design and retro-fitting, but also in the awareness of the teams on board and ashore for the large impacts possible in active operational aspects. 

What are your hopes for the future of IMarEST? 

That IMarEST continues to demonstrate and develop further its commitment, contribution, and relevance to all marine career paths, guiding personal development, [and] accreditation and connection with members. 

The Institute is already well involved with the drivers of the industry and hence legislation, and this needs continued emphasis. With the vast experience and knowledge available in the membership, we should be fully part of the future development of the industry.  

How important is it for IMarEST to include a marine science perspective? 

It is essential to IMarEST [that it] fully encompass all the three disciplines as all can, and will, greatly contribute to the safety and advancement of the industry and its role in environmental protection.  

And finally, what maritime trend do you think will make the most impact in 2024? 

The drive towards ever improving environmental, hence efficient, performance will require continued focus and commitment from all levels of ship operation and management, where IMarEST will be a valuable resource. 

Top image: IMarEST’s new chief executive officer, Chris Goldsworthy; credit: Chris Goldsworthy