Diversity, Tech on Tap at WISTA Conference

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

October 28, 2019

Despina Theodosiou (Photo: WISTA International)

Despina Theodosiou (Photo: WISTA International)

A top hostage negotiator, the CEO of a company which supplies environmental products to ship owners and operators and the heads of two maritime technology firms are all part of an impressive line-up of speakers scheduled to speak at the 2019 Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) AGM & Conference which takes place next week from Tuesday, October 29, to Friday, November 1.  

The four-day event is being hosted by WISTA Cayman Islands and is expected to bring over 200 maritime experts from 30-plus countries.  

This is the first time that Cayman is hosting the WISTA AGM and Conference.  The conference theme this year is "Founded Upon the Seas", a nod to Cayman's maritime heritage.  Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, President of WISTA International, says the emphasis for this year’s gathering will be on doing business differently as it relates to diversity, technology and environmental issues in the maritime industry.  Ms. Theodosiou will be participating in two panels at the conference – one about how organisations such as Women In Maritime Association (WIMAs) and WISTA can work together to challenge gender bias and another called Technology / The Digital World / Autonomous Ships / Cyber Security. She is joint CEO of Tototheo Maritime, a leading global maritime solutions provider, specializing in maritime satellite communications, bridge systems, digital technologies and fleet optimization services. She was also chosen as one of the Top 100 Most Influential people in shipping and Top 10 Women in Shipping in both 2017 and 2018 by leading international shipping publication Lloyd's List.

“The focus will be on the need for diversity, whereby we see the skills and knowledge of a person regardless of their gender, ethnicity or any other distinguishing factor. Our industry has changed so much over the last five years, that we must look at it with open minds,” said Ms. Theodosiou. “The relevance is that people and organisations with the right set of diverse skills, and a willingness to think afresh will be able to move forward in an industry where the old ways of doing things no longer apply.”

Ms. Theodosiou will be joined on the technology panel by Cynthia Hudson, CEO and founder of HudsonAnalytix, Inc., a global maritime risk consultancy.  A leader in her field, Ms. Hudson believes that the rapid advance of technology and digitalization in the maritime transportation business has changed and will continue to change the very fabric of businesses like hers.

“These exciting changes mean new opportunities but also bring new risks and challenges; perhaps the most critical of those is cyber risk.  Learning about what cyber risk means and how to implement cyber security is absolutely critical to protecting what is of value in our organisations,” said Ms. Hudson.

Alexandra Anagnostis-Irons, founder and President of Total Marine Solutions agrees. Anagnostis-Irons will tackle the important topic of doing business in a global environment.  She started her shipping career in the cruise sector and enjoyed over 16 years serving in a number of executive roles within Marine & Technical Operations. She left the cruise industry as Royal Caribbean’s Director, Technical Purchasing to launch Total Marine Solutions, an organisation with a focus on supplying maritime pollution (MARPOL) compliant solutions to ship owners and operators.

“Shipping has always been a global industry. With increased digitization we are transforming into a real-time data driven industry, allowing the entire world to be accessible and visible,” said Anagnostis-Irons.  “This brings its own challenges, including cyber and physical security, IT standardization and system integration. It also makes it essential to build a network of relationships around the globe. This panel will tackle those topics head on and share best practices.”

Hostage negotiator Suzanne Williams will be speaking on the topic of Business Negotiation in A Global World and moderating a panel on the same subject.  For the past 28 years Ms. Williams has been negotiating the release of hostages detained in very challenging parts of the world.  Her negotiation skills were recognized by Said Business school at Oxford University, where she is now a regular lecturer on the Oxford Program of Negotiation (OPN).  Using the techniques of hostage negotiation, she demonstrates how simple tactics and preparation can make attendees better negotiators within the kinder and easier world of business negotiation.

“Negotiation and good communication are both activities that are fundamental to every aspect of our daily lives both at home and work. They underpin decision making, conflict resolution, management and leadership as well as the more obvious profit and bargaining functions,” explained Ms. Williams.  “Lessons learnt in this session will give attendees the skills to adapt their own negotiation style within different contexts in an ever-changing business environment.  They will learn how to secure the ‘buy in’ of various stakeholders at so many levels.  I believe this 30-minute session will change the way they do business forever.”

The 2019 WISTA International AGM & Conference is sponsored by Maples Group, Port Authority of the Cayman Islands, Ministry of Health, Environment, Culture and Housing, NetClues, TotoTheo Maritime, Cayman Islands Shipping Registry, Fiorenti Holdings,  Jones Walker LLP, Marshall Islands Registry, BlankRome Maritime, Cricket Square Ltd., Total Marine Solutions, Hyde Agencies Ltd., Cayman Management, MF Shipping Group, Cayman Armoured, Island Electronics Security & Monitoring, Cricket Square, Waterfront Shipping Company Limited and Seaboard Cayman, AL Thompson's, Methanex and Bina Motor Yacht.

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