2017 Sheldon Kinney Lecture – Navigating the New Norm

Mr. and Mrs. Wiernicki (center left) and President Doumbia-Henry (center right) with staff and students in attendance at the Sheldon Kinney lecture.

On 10 October, the Sheldon Kinney Lecture took place at WMU, delivered by Mr. Christopher J. Wiernicki, Chairman, President and CEO of ABS. The lecture topic was Navigating The New Norm: How Technology, Skills and Expectations Are Shaping Shipping’s Future.

In her welcome remarks, President Doumbia-Henry noted Mr. Wiernicki’s passion to prepare the next generation of maritime leaders which made him an ideal speaker at the relaunch of the Sheldon Kinney Lecture Series. “We could not have had this lecture at a more appropriate time. The shipping industry is currently experiencing a technological revolution with an unprecedented impact on operations as well as the skills needed to fulfil current skill gaps and expectations of all stakeholders,” she stated.

In his lecture, Mr. Wiernicki emphasized that the industry needs to be prepared for change that will occur at an unprecedented speed and scale. He highlighted the importance of technology to our collective future and identified four megatrends shaping the future of the maritime industry: the growing world economy and population, societal and regulatory pressures on the industry to be more clean and transparent, the shift of global gravity to the East, and the new technologies and the rapid rate of change that are propelling us into the fourth industrial revolution. Further, he asserted that the next generation of regulations need to be holistic in their approach and integrated over the lifetime of the vessel.

Mr. Wiernicki proposed that over the next five years, turbulent change will determine the industry’s footprint for the next 20 years and beyond. “In the past, the market cycles that the industry responded to were primarily impacted by globalization and emerging economies. In the future, market cycles will be impacted by technology and regulations,” he stated.

“This means governments and organizations like the IMO will become even greater global shapers as they provide a framework that must be synchronized with these emerging technologies,” he added. “Some may be frightened by this concept, but I see this as exciting and full of opportunity. Our business environment is changing, and we have a new definition of what normal means. Normal will mean change, it will mean disruptive change, and it will mean impactful change,” he stated.

Despite the importance of technology, Mr. Wiernicki maintained that people will remain key players in the industry. He noted that success will require new mindsets, new skill sets and new regulation and classification relationships in leadership roles.

About the Sheldon Kinney Lecture

RADM Sheldon Kinney was a distinguished US Navy veteran and former Rector (President) of the World Maritime University. In honor of the 20th anniversary of WMU and RADM Sheldon Kinney, the United States Friends of WMU established the Sheldon Kinney Lecture as a public lecture featuring internationally renowned guest experts in different areas of maritime transportation. The lectures took place annually from 2004 through 2008 and have been relaunched in 2017 as an annual event. The Sheldon Kinney Lecture is funded by a small endowment from the US Friends of WMU and by WMU.

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