ABS Chairman and CEO lays out vision for a ‘new generation of technical leadership’

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Christopher J Wiernicki, President and CEO, ABS
Christopher J Wiernicki, Chairman and CEO, ABS

During the recent CMA Shipping 2015 conference in Stamford, Connecticut, ABS Chairman and CEO Christopher J Wiernicki  (pictured) provided the conference’s keynote address to set the agenda for discussion over the following two days.

CMA Shipping is an annual meeting of nearly 1,300 leaders of the maritime industry from around the world, the largest gathering of maritime executives in North America and Mr Wiernicki gave the attendees plenty to consider as he laid out his vision for how the maritime industry must embrace a new generation of technical leadership.

In his remarks, Mr Wiernicki focused on the three main tenets of executive technology leadership that will help transform the future of shipping – the importance of techno-economic thinking, the leveraging of ‘big data’, and embracing convergence thinking.

Mr Wiernicki believes that “the new generation of technical leadership will be based on techno-economic thinking. It will be about how we take the collective technical information to make the right overall business decision.”

Technical risks are growing in importance due to the rapid adoption of technology advancements required to meet new and evolving regulatory requirements. “Technical innovation must be on par with commercial acumen, and decisions need to be based equally on both commercial and technical risks. The Chief Technology Officer and Chief Financial Officer must work even more collaboratively,” he said.

In order for the maritime industry to adopt a true techno-economic approach to future decisions, a better understanding and leveraging of big data is required.

Mr Wiernicki believes ABS provides a unique perspective from which to discuss the impact of big data on the maritime industry: “Big data will be the catalyst that ties together regulations of the future, technology advancements and class of the future. Big data will enable regulators, owners and class to provide enhanced decision-making, insightful discoveries and process optimisation that foster a safer and more efficient industry.”

A big data-driven approach to classification opens a number of revolutionary possibilities for the maritime industry. At its core, the harnessing of information through intelligent systems will allow for real-time monitoring of information that can shift class to a more informed, risk-based process that unlocks the full value of information. The ultimate goal of leveraging big data will be to provide information to the right people, at the right place and at the right time to make better informed decisions.

“This is not, in essence, about the data or the information. It’s about the knowledge our people bring – the innovation, creativity and common sense – to know best what to do with the data and information,” said Mr Wiernicki.

“And the new generation of technical leaders will need to think differently in a big data environment. They will need to embrace a convergence mindset and not only consider technical feasibility from an engineering perspective, but also weigh both commercial viability and social desirability of the world we live in.”