Technology attracts talent

Technology attracts talent

One of the world’s largest shipping giants had a very public debate last month (Dec 2021) about the type of company into which it has evolved. A.P. Moller – Maersk (APMM)  has operated and owned ships since 1904 and port terminals since 2001, but so technologically driven is today’s supply chain that the Danish company’s Senior Engineering Manager, Søren Vind, said in an interview that the business now “operates some ships and terminals, but at its core we are a technology company”.

The interview, which first appeared on Danish media website Version2, later drove conversation on LinkedIn sparked by a Maersk captain who is also a member of the (APMM) board. He pointed out that the group’s 12,000 seafarers were fundamental to business and should not be sidelined. Of the dozens of comments that followed most were in support of the captain’s sentiment and I agree that seafarers will always be central to maritime operations and their vital role in world trade should never be overlooked.

The debate acknowledged, however, that what was once a ‘hidden’ industry is slowly evolving into a digitally-enabled and transparent link in the global end-to-end supply chain, and Vind’s comments to Version2 about recruiting the right talent in technology cannot be ignored.

As a statistician who has worked in and around the Greek shipping industry for the past eight years I have witnessed first hand how technology is not only affecting container lines, but also tramp and bulk cargo shipping.

Over the next decade all decisions made in shipping will become data driven. Maritime companies will increasingly require technology competencies across their workforces if they want to stay relevant in the near future.

Technology and attracting talent go hand in hand. Maritime needs bright young minds the same as any other sector and shipping’s transformation into a technology-focussed industry makes it more desirable to young potential employees. We will see an employee market over the next few years, where companies will compete to secure the best emerging talent to support their data-driven agendas.

As an Athens-based startup, Harbor Lab has access to an extensive talent pool of Greek mathematicians, and we work closely with  leading universities and nurture this talent through Harbor Lab’s Academy. We have been tapping into this enviable resource recruiting fresh, young talent as data analysts, since we rolled out our disbursements accounting tool (DA) online platform in 2020.

Our work is data-centric as our analysts unravel matrices that determine individual ports’ fees and create the complex algorithms that drive out our online DA Tool. More and more companies are turning to our software as a transparent and time-efficient way of working instead of relying on paper-heavy and error-prone DA checking procedures  that require manual resources.

As the company grows we will need more minds to drive our products and we cannot afford to be complacent. Covid-19 has proved that working from home is not only possible but desirable from a recruitment perspective, as it opens up a huge international talent pool. Athens-based talent could in future work for German companies, for example, that offer higher wages, and still take advantage of the city’s low living costs and desirable way of life.

As much as I would like Harbor Lab to recruit exclusively from Greece, in reality we will need to broaden our search as homegrown talent finds opportunities abroad.

It’s one reason why Harbor Lab is so focussed on providing our employees with a positive work environment, where people are heard and talent and hard work is acknowledged. We recognise that job satisfaction is not only related to financial remuneration, but also job security, respect and the trust of your employer. We were humbled and delighted to be recognised and certified as a ‘Great Place to Work’. With these credentials we recruit high calibre talent that we hope to develop and grow with the business for the long term.

Of course, not everyone in shipping needs to be able to write algorithms. Masters should always have a presence in shipping companies’ boardrooms, and ships will always require some level of onboard crewing, but maritime companies will also need the right people to create data-driven decisions.

Already A.P. Moller – Maersk has publicly stated that its position as a market leader hinges on its ability to recruit data scientists and software engineers. And with Q3 2021 its best quarter ever, it’s a strategy that’s paying dividends.

Related Articles