Stories on Maritime Leadership

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What my Nautical Institute Fellowship means to me

nautical institute smallWe all have goals: We want to matter. We want to be important. We want to have freedom and power to pursue our creative work. We want respect from our peers and recognition for our accomplishments. Not out of vanity or selfishness, but of an earnest desire to fulfil our personal potential. -  Ryan Holiday


Ever since I was a young boy growing up in the faraway Andaman Islands, with the sea and ships almost always in sight, there was only one thing I dreamt of – a career at sea, as a ship captain.

I was fortunate to find a position as a cadet after high school, and I was so grateful for the opportunity that I promised myself to be always at my best, and make myself worthy of the opportunity that I’d been given.

Few years down the line, I was a Chief Officer on the verge of getting my command. My maritime professor recommended me to read the Nautical Institute on Command. The book is the Institute’s flagship publication and distils the best advice available for aspiring officers, new Masters and experienced Masters. Commanding a ship requires all the skills and knowledge, professional and technical, gained up to the point of taking up command, plus soft skills. The book’s expert authors cover these in short practical articles that guide the transition from chief officer to Master and serve as reference for years to come. If you see my list of favourite books (, it’s still featured here.

Next, was a chance meeting with Captain Sivaraman Krishnamurthi, who would eventually go on to become the Nautical Institute’s youngest ever President. It just took a little persuasion from him, and I was convinced enough to join the Institute. Very quickly I saw I had made a great career move.

I was invited to seminars most seafaring officers usually don’t have the opportunity of attending. The after-event conversations were even more enlightening. One on one discussions with more experienced maritime professionals opened my eyes to information I didn’t even know existed. On ships, I did have good mentors but not always- but here at the Nautical Institute, everyone seemed to have a mind-set of abundance, sharing their own experiences and knowledge which was very helpful.

I got my very own command soon after, and the advice I had received recently from other members at the Nautical Institute, including their books on command and manoeuvring came handy.

In the last fourteen years that I have been with the Nautical Institute, I moved from a sea-going role to a corporate one. Here too, books such as Managing Risk in Shipping came handy. My involvement with the Institute became even more active. I was on the committee in both Hong Kong and Cyprus. I was part of the team organizing events for the shipping industry, and helping mentor younger maritime professionals.

The journal of the Nautical Institute, Seaways continues to carry articles at the leading edge of the shipping industry. I’ve also had the opportunity to have two of my articles published here.

It’s also been fun. My colleagues at the Institute, many from different companies have become trusted friends and mentors. I was part of the Institute’s dragon boat team in Hong Kong, and social barbecues and dinners have made me feel at home far away from home.

Recently, I was elected Fellow of the Nautical Institute and I was honoured to be presented my letter by the President of the Institute, Captain Duke Snider, FNI- who is also an expert polar navigator, recently having completed the earliest ever transit of the Northwest Passage as the senior Ice Navigator of the Nordica.

NI photo 2

With the Chairman of the Nautical Institute, Cyprus Branch, Captain Graham Cowling, FNI, FICS. My wife Vidhya received flowers for her supporting role; she also helps from time to time with the Institute’s events.

The other Nautical Institute member who was elected to Fellow that day was Captain Michael Quain- who received his navigator’s license even before I was born. He is an expert on tanker operations and his recent presentations on vetting-inspections were very enlightening.

Mr. Alexandros Josephides, Deputy Director General / Marine Manager of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber received the Honorary Fellowship for his role in promoting the Nautical Institute in Cyprus. Due to his efforts, Nautical Institute and the Cyprus Shipping Chamber reached a closer working relationship where members of both organizations could benefit from the information exchange.

It’s both a privilege and a humbling experience to be in such great company.

In my book, Golden Stripes- Leadership on the High Seas, (also endorsed by the Nautical Institute) I’ve described the Porthole Model of Expertise. This is an easy to remember process map for developing expertise as a leader. One of the strategies is Intentional Knowledge (IK), a term that I’ve coined to describe the structured process by which one gains deep knowledge of their field of work, a pre-requisite for any leader. One of the ways to gain IK is through our peers. My view, based on research, is that experts rarely thrive in isolation and most professionals help each other raise awareness through a mutual sharing of ideas and experience. I can also support this with my own fulfilling experience with the Nautical Institute.


Nautical Institute:

Command seminar link:

Cyprus Shipping Chamber:

Golden Stripes – Leadership on the High Seas, ISBN: 978-1849953146:


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