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Time to collaborate or risk obsolescence

Sharing ideas is not just a good idea — it’s a question of survival

Celebrating excellence in shipping has value, but to capture this potential, and not simply fall victim to the emerging changes being thrust upon us from external dynamics, the shipping industry needs to upgrade its foundations, argues Lloyd’s List Editor Richard Meade

LAST night Lloyd’s List hosted the European Shipping Awards 2019.

Each year at these events, I stand before the great and the good of the shipping industry and claim that the Lloyd’s List Awards are more necessary than ever, precisely because they reward successful endeavour in the face of seemingly intractable problems.

And I stand by that.

But I also think that the collective view of excellence and endeavour that these awards offer has a more practical purpose.

Sharing ideas is not just a good idea — it’s a question of survival.

I also hosted our annual Outlook Forum earlier in the day, and what came out loud and clear from that discussion was that the challenges continue to come from every angle.

From the regulators certainly, but also from the banks, clients — even employees. The very nature of the macro-economic system is shifting around us.

Companies have to adapt or risk obsolescence.

But doing that alone is not going to work.

Collaboration is the competitive advantage we need.

It’s is also the required key to unlock the door to a very necessary period of innovation for the shipping sector as it responds to an unprecedented series of regulatory and commercial challenges.

Last night we had represented in the room some genuinely important innovation and industry leadership.

But to capture this potential, and not simply fall victim to the emerging changes being thrust upon us from external dynamics, the shipping industry needs to upgrade its foundations.

This requires more accurate data and analysis, and of course insightful and credible journalism that doesn’t just inform, it adds to the overall transparency of the industry and allows for more effective risk management. 

My message to the crowd last night was simple — change is coming, with or without you.

It is time to adapt and innovate or risk becoming yet another footnote in history.

Consider this: In the 16th century, Portugal developed the spice trade but it was the Dutch, then the English who were the long-term beneficiaries.

Bulk shipping and containerisation in the 1950s and 1960s was not led by the established national shipping lines. The lead was taken by a new generation of independent owners and most of the traditional shipping lines disappeared.

Ultimately, when it comes to innovation, only the most agile survive.

My request to the finalists in the room last night is something I would like to extend to all Lloyd’s List subscribers — let’s build on the successes we have celebrated in the Lloyd’s list Awards this year, but let’s also collaborate and come together as industry leaders.

We need your award-winning mentality more than ever.

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