“The IMarEST is the perfect vehicle to address industry challenges”

Singapore-based naval architect and company director President Elect Yves De Leeneer says education is key if maritime is to attract, train and retrain. 

Singapore-based naval architect and company director President Elect Yves De Leeneer says education is key if maritime is to attract, train and retrain. 

Yves De Leeneer QA 2 to crop

IMarEST President Martin Shaw (left) pictured with President Elect Yves De Leeneer CEng CMarEng FIMarEST FRINA, Trustee, Member of Council and F&IC 

1 What should IMarEST members know about you?

I’m a naval architect based in Singapore for the last 27 years. I run my own engineering firm and also provide submerged environmentally friendly breakwaters. Offshore Energy, both traditional and renewable is my focus.

2 What inspired you to join the maritime industry – and why? 

I fell in love with the sea, as a teenager, during a storm on a 10m sailboat off the coast of the French Riviera. I knew I wanted to be involved with and connected with the sea and oceans. Life at sea is different to life on land with little space for error and politics. 

The maritime industry has brought me around the world and has allowed me to meet, work and socialise with people from different backgrounds, cultures and nationalities. As the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne said: “les voyages forment la jeunesse” so for the last 30 years, I’ve been travelling and what better way to travel than on water!

3 Describe your early career

After graduating, I spent nine years as Naval Architect, Subsea Manager and Project Manager with a major Norwegian company based in Singapore which designed and leased out FPSO & FSOs. This brought me to the USA, West Africa and Egypt for a few years. During that time, I was involved in engineering, conversion, project management and offshore installation of FPSOs. After that I joined a local Singapore company and kept the role of Project Manager.

4 How did you get to your current role?

After learning my trade as an engineer, naval architect, subsea manager and as overall project manager on large projects, I decided to make the jump. In 2008 I started my own company and 15 years on, and more than 100 projects later, we’re still going strong: providing design, engineering, equipment, project management and personnel to the offshore energy industry, both traditional and renewable.

5 Describe maritime’s biggest challenges. 

As with any industry, challenges co-exist simultaneously. While most are technical and can and will be solved through engineering, science and technology, which is of course where the IMarEST’s expertise lies, the cultural and educational challenges are harder to tackle.

A worldwide shortage of STEM students along with a lack of knowledge about our industry means not enough young people are choosing a career in maritime. This is happening at a time of increased ship automation, when a more technologically-educated crew is required. Thankfully, the IMarEST is providing support and education for on-going career development and for the transition from seagoing jobs to land-based careers. 

6 What are you most passionate about in maritime today?

The seas and oceans themselves. 70% of our little blue planet is water. The oceans offer all that humans need to survive, thrive and live successfully on this planet. 

Unfortunately, we have abused the oceans through dumping our land trash into them, overfishing and polluting them with plastic and other contaminants worldwide. While extremely learned professionals, professors, engineers and PhD students are working to find solutions, a global mind shift is required to end the polluting and overfishing of the oceans. Early education is necessary so young people know how to support the oceans, seas and waterways that are crucial for a healthy life on this planet. 

7 When did you join the IMarEST and what does it mean for you? 

16 years ago, I became involved in the Joint Branch in Singapore and a few years later become branch chair. I was then nominated as a Council member and a board of Trustees member.

It’s an immense honour to become President Elect. For me, the IMarEST is the perfect vehicle to promote ocean knowledge and to address industry challenges as it’s one of the few institutes taking a holistic approach and combining science, engineering and technology. 

8 What is the best career advice you’ve been given? 

Do more than is expected from you in your job, and always tell the truth, even when painful and stressful. You’ll be recognised and appreciated as a person of character and will be successful.

9 What advice do you give to those starting out?

 Follow your guts, your heart and your passion and amazing things will happen. And join the IMarEST for growth, recognition and support in your profession using all the tools IMarEST has put at your disposal. 

10 What's next for you?

As President Elect, I’ll be meeting lots of very interesting industry professionals and collaborating closely with the team in London and branch members in 50 countries. And as a company owner, many more vibrant and challenging years in Offshore Energy.

Read IMarEST’s President Martin Shaw’s Q&A published in January before taking up the role.