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How to do marine business sustainably

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This article first appeared in Maritime Risk International in August 2022.

Maria Theodosiou, of GenPro, shares her philosophy on the importance of sustainable partnerships in business

Clients naturally only ever look for the best in terms of quality and total overall value, but if we as clients only expect the best from our suppliers, then it is only right that we also offer the best to all our stakeholders. I believe this is done through open communication and industry know-how.


We recognise the importance of contribution and diversity in thought and everyone should bring adaptable skills and knowledge, which will broaden the overall expertise; many have been in the maritime industry for a considerable amount of years from all sectors including some less well known roles in ship management, offshore, marine lubricants and shipchandling, in particular.


What is needed to form a sustainable partnership?


For a partnership to be truly sustainable, it is vital that all parties understand what is meant by the phrase and, know what is expected. There are several non-negotiables that should underpin all partnerships. Transparency in business means everyone has clarity on what is happening at any stage in the process and an open-book policy means being as open with suppliers and clients as we like them to be with us. Being sustainable extends beyond the traditional ESG approach and in this way, it is critical that we are all aligned towards a common goal. We are in the business of building strong relationships that have trust at their foundation so that we can expect to work together for many years, with a level of confidence that only comes from dealing closely and honestly with people. There is a lot of work involved in building a good relationship. Constructive feedback is meant to be just that and the hope is that everyone, including suppliers and clients alike, will be accepting of any observations. These are meant to improve relationships and services, not to be some kind of personal sleight we might make, so that we can be mutually supportive and work together to improve.


Working towards a green supply network


We have worked diligently to become sustainable and we have committed to being a completely green supply network by 2025, but we don’t expect our suppliers to get there without support. We have defined a 2025 Sustainability Road Map which includes actions and initiatives which we will be taking in the coming years, all of which have been formulated in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. By sharing our knowledge and expertise in the “green” arena, we are confident that together we will co-exist in a green supply network by 2025.


Collaboration leads to success


Working together in sustainable partnerships allows businesses to assess challenges within the entire supply chain and look for solutions that can impact all partners rather than each entity attempting to resolve issues in isolation. By working collaboratively all stakeholders benefit from combined knowledge and experiences, creating long-term and mutually beneficial relationships which can evolve as markets change or mature. These relationships have been built on robust foundations that will enable them to continue for years to come. But, of course, by being mutually supportive we can find solutions that offer the best possible outcome for us all leading to more profitable partnerships.

As mentioned before, we positively welcome constructive feedback and aim to form successful partnerships with others who share our ethos. By taking on board and acting on the comments and suggestions that others have made, the entirety of our supply chain has access to the best advice available so that everyone plays an integral part in any improvements that have been made to products, services and processes. This means that the complete network is able to work smoothly together as part of a highly functional entity which is greater than the sum of its parts.


A fresh look


In the past it was more common to view every other company as potential competition but today we are able to appreciate that coordinated efforts can reap rewards for all concerned. For example many sectors of the maritime industry are joining forces to search for alternative sources of fuel so that we can all achieve the IMO GHG goals for 2050. We should all strive to achieve the best possible sustainability results and share our expertise and knowledge with others in maritime.

I truly believe that the most dangerous phrase in the English language is “We have always done it this way”. If it has always been done that way then it is time that we take a fresh look at our systems and processes, opening up to a different mindset. The tools that can make all of this happen are already in our hands, we just need to identify where to use them and implement changes in an impactful way. We need to commit to making change where it is needed so that we can be around in 50 to 100 years.


The ONLY way forward


Choosing the right business partners is key to overcoming challenges. Working together helps tackle challenges and answer questions such as: What’s in the future? How do we prepare? How do we remain relevant in business? Providing that all stakeholders in business share a vision for a more collaborative future where everyone seeks the best outcomes for all, we cannot fail to be successful.


A sustainable future


Sustainability is about far more than simply looking after the environment. It encompasses doing everything possible to ensure the continued resilience of your business, its operations and people, so that it can be sustained for many years into the future.

Everything from profits to productivity, marketing to staff retention fall within its sphere and one of the surest ways to achieve sustainability is through good partnerships.

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