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The endgame is important, but it’s the journey that counts

Posted 09.02.2021
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How did it come about that you joined the shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?

After graduating with a degree in History, I moved to Tokyo, Japan and spent two years teaching, where I also picked up a few jobs along the way in copyrighting, which really triggered my interest in journalism. When I returned to the UK, I trained as a journalist and began moonlighting for The Sun, and did some voluntary work with Japanese newspaper The Independent to gain as much experience as I could. My first ‘proper’ job was with The Yomiuri Shimbun, which was the biggest newspaper in the world at the time, before getting a role writing for maritime magazines and contributing to Lloyd’s List with market reports.

Over the past 12 years, BLUE has specialised in the marine and energy markets, but we started in the marine fuel segment as a result of that time. BLUE’s – and, I hope my own - expertise has now expanded, largely around sustainability, decarbonisation and digitalisation. With a strong team of more than 30, our knowledge now spans right across all parts of the marine and energy spectrum, including shipping’s professional services, offshore, oil and gas, and renewable energy.

What about your current job/role most excites you and why?

My role has always been the same (Managing Director) since founding BLUE with Executive Director, Nick Blythe. I’m slightly less hands on with the day-to-day operations, and today I primarily work with clients on a strategic level as well as consulting, which we’re increasingly doing through our new practises BLUE Insight (business consultancy) and BLUE Inspire (brand discovery and development). We’ve had a very strong year in terms of new growth - which is very pleasing, particularly in the current environment, and shows that the shipping and energy markets are increasingly grasping the importance of communications, brand and reputation. 

How would you define success?

For me, success is defined by finding something you are genuinely passionate about as a career, and that doesn’t feel like work. In that sense I feel very lucky.

Who is the most influential person/mentor to you and why?

I’m actually not going to give you the PR answer here. My grandfather is my biggest role model, who I fortunately knew well through my childhood, and also as an adult; he was a pilot in World War II and a headmaster. I learned from his experiences to hopefully behave in a respectful way, but challenge with humour; and that remaining positive is always important. 

What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you've ever been given and why?

A number of people have encouraged me to embrace perceived risk – which in my case probably resulted in starting a business from an idea. The worst piece of advice was a recommendation from co-founder Nick to buy some shares in an Australian company a few years back, and to put it bluntly, it didn’t work out too well! 

What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?

Regardless of what you do, you need to build a knowledge of the sectors you’re working in, so constantly learning and reading is essential, and this is something we greatly encourage and do within the BLUE team. 

If you could give a piece of advice to your 18-year-old-self one thing, what would it be and why?

I’d tell myself to keep the hair long because it won’t last long! But more importantly, not to be scared of risks - as Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “[there is] nothing to fear but fear itself.”

In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your business life?

To all our clients, we’ve always advocated the importance of living their values, something my fellow directors Nick and Amie (Pascoe) brought to BLUE from their previous roles, and I’ve been surprised at how vital and important it’s been for us, as well as many of our clients. I’m really proud that we do such a good job of living up to our values. 

What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and why?

On a personal level, I see a huge opportunity in the energy transition, not only for shipping but across the energy sector too. My frustration, and the challenge for all of us, is slow progress - can we, and how we accelerate change – the clock is ticking but climate change is so imperceptible we tend to ignore it. Thankfully we are seeing signs of people realising the energy as huge opportunity, not just for society but for the global economy.

What is your personal motto?

Not sure I have one, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the journey is invariably far more rewarding than the end game. Enjoy the ride.

Article original published by SAFETY4SEA.


Alisdair Pettigrew

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