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Could Silicon Valley’s Top Minds Be Recruited To Help Shipping?

John Konrad
Total Views: 1020
June 29, 2023

By John Konrad (gCaptain) Shipping, a stalwart industry often found clinging to antiquated practices and methodologies, has rarely been associated with progressive technological transformation. Apart from a small handful of sucess stories like Flexport, it’s even rarer to hear America celebrated as a beacon of digital innovation in our industtry. Yet, Paul Sells, CEO of ABS Wavesight, sees the winds of change beginning to billow the industry’s sails. He asserts that the creative energy emanating from Silicon Valley has the power to modernize the maritime world. That is if its most talented and creeative minds can be harnessed to help ships.

Over the past 30 years, we’ve seen American innovation gather a pace that’s almost biblical in its fervor, particularly within the technology sector. It may have taken the shipping industry some time to catch this wave, but Sells is confident that Silicon Valley’s talent pool offers a trove of untapped potential.

As he outlined in a recent interview with gCaptain, “The US may be slow in bringing those tools to bear on maritime solutions, but we have a lot of depth.” This ‘depth’ can be found in the skilled engineers, product managers, and technologists of Silicon Valley.

Nonetheless, a looming challenge persists – bridging the gap between the tech maestros and the idiosyncratic operations of the shipping industry. Organizations like ABS Wavesight are stepping up to tackle this issue. With the help of its parent organization, the American Bureau of Shipping’s robust roots in the shipping industry and a wealth of marine engineering and operational talent, ABS Wavesight plans to act as a nexus between these seemingly disparate sectors. 

ABS Wavesight CEO Paul Sells
ABS Wavesight CEO Paul Sells cutting the ribbon at Workboat Photo: John Konrad/gCaptain

Their approach involves a concentrated effort in training and education initiatives designed to provide a primer on ship management to Silicon Valley’s technical minds. This strategy allows for a relationship to blossom between experienced maritime professionals and eager tech innovators, fostering an environment ripe for innovation.

“There’s a particular attraction in shipping for the younger generation,” Sells acknowledges. A landscape of substantial challenges – climate change, stressed supply chains, cybersecurity threats, geopolitical tensions – awaits them. In this crucible, digitalization is no longer an optional add-on but a vital part of the solution. “The opportunity to partake in such a broad-impact industry is a compelling prospect for these young professionals.”

As Sells demonstrates, maritime professionals can make a successful transition to technology, and tech experts can find fulfilling careers within the maritime industry. The combined forces of experienced maritime professionals and tech wizards can spark not just technology development, but also propel the maritime industry to solve problems like how to alleviate logistics bottlenecks, meet aggressive carbon goals, block cybersecurity threats or reduce ship incidents at sea.

Furthermore, ABS Wavesight benefits from a strategic location in Houston, just a stone’s throw away from the emerging tech hub in Austin and a quick flight to Silicon Valley. This grants them access to a deep reservoir of engineering talent. However, Sells warns, proximity alone doesn’t guarantee sucess. It is the access to ABS’s global network of offices and multinational talent pool that will give Wavesight the edge.

Indeed, America brims with talent, yet the power of diversity and multinational collaboration is an asset too significant to ignore. This emerges as a compelling proposition for young tech luminaries yearning to extend their horizons beyond Silicon Valley. They’ll discover that the shipping industry, in collaboration with ABS partners, offers an unparalleled opportunity to engage in work spanning port cities worldwide – a unique experience seldom encountered in other fields.

In this industry, they’re not limited to vicariously exploring the world through a “travel influencer’s” curated Instagram reel. Instead, they are offered the chance to travel and experience the unfiltered world of shipping – warts and all – first-hand.

In closing, we find the shipping industry teetering on the edge of a thrilling epoch, one potentially energized by Silicon Valley’s pulsating rhythm of innovation. Entities such as ABS Wavesight are stepping up to the helm, poised to close the chasm between these two distinct sectors. By doing so, they can trigger breakthroughs of considerable magnitude, guiding the shipping industry into its digital dawn. The key to successfully navigating this journey lies in tapping into the wealth of resources offered by multinational shipping behemoths like ABS and effectively conveying to the most promising tech prodigies the profound influence they can wield by crafting solutions for the shipping realm.

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