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Sunday, July 14, 2024

ABS Head Delivers Commencement Address to Webb Institute Grads

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

June 19, 2023

ABS chairman, president and CEO Christopher J. Wiernicki (Photo: ABS)

ABS chairman, president and CEO Christopher J. Wiernicki (Photo: ABS)

“We will need your leadership vision, not to mention every ounce of your ingenuity and sweat, if our industry is to meet both the challenges and opportunities we face today.”

That was the message from Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS Chairman, President and CEO to the graduating class of 2023 at the Webb Institute. He explained that Webb Institute alumni can expect to answer the call to leadership during their careers because of their education and training.

“Remember, you have been expressly trained to become the maritime leaders of tomorrow. I have seen that everyone can be a leader, and all of you will be leaders in different capacities and in different ways over the course of your lives.”

In a heartfelt speech outlining his approach to leadership, he emphasized the enduring importance of people in an increasingly technology driven industry.  

“On a personal level, it’s important to recognize that human dignity and respect are the cornerstones of leadership; it is harder to be kind than it is to demonstrate your intelligence. Your integrity defines you as a leader and you need to trade on it every day, doing what is right rather than what is easy.

“Over the years, technologies have changed and will continue to change, but never forget these technologies are useless without people. People, not new fuels and technologies, will be the real heroes on our journey through the global clean energy transition. Because, at the end of the day, technology has no sense of humor, intuition or common sense.”

He illustrated the point with a powerful story about his parents’ life journey through World War II and ultimately to a new life in the United States. He challenged the graduates to write a letter to their future selves setting out the thoughts and values that would guide them through the unknown challenges to come, as he had done.

“It is these foundational principles of leadership combined with strong personal values that have sustained me through my work guiding a world class company through the turbulent waters of decarbonization and digitalization, not to mention the aftermath of a global pandemic, and rapid technological advancement,” he said.

“I wonder what it is that you will write? What is it that inspires you? What are the foundations of your own leadership style? I urge you to commit to envision your future, and then make it happen.”