Interview to Dionysios Politis
Captain Dimitrios Mattheou recently re-elected Chairman of the Green Award Foundation and is the CEO of Arcadia Shipmanagement and Aegean Bulk. Dimitrios Mattheou is an inspiring Leader with an executive talent, committed to his job tasks, innovative in his roles and loyal to the corporate spirit. A result-oriented Manager, with an exceptional working performance throughout his career path, he has been demonstrating high level of expertise, self-confidence and excellent leadership skills. Dimitrios Mattheou is a visionary that arouses inspiration and motivation in demanding and crucial working environments. Through his actions and hard work he has earned the respect of everyone in the maritime community and has been awarded as a Best Manager and as a Significant Personality (Exceptional Personality of Shipping Award / Vaporia Marine Awards 2018, Best Manager award / Efkranti Awards May 18, 2016, Personality award / GREEN4SEA Awards April 4, 2017, Personal award / Masters & Mates Union of Greek Merchant Marine).
Dimitrios Mattheou is highly recognized for his contribution as an active member of International Organizations, Foundations and Institutions. Aside from his position as a Chairman in Green Award Foundation he is an active Vice Chairman of Hellenic Mediterranean Panel in INTERTANKO, a Governor of the International Propeller Club of the United States and an Executive Committee Member in Norwegian Hull Club, INTERCARGO, HELMEPA and ALBA Graduate Business School.
As an experienced sailor, he has never neglected the new generation of the seafarers. Therefore, he provides frequent industry-based tuitions for post-graduate students, as a guest Lecturer at various Academic Institutions for Maritime studies, such as the Piraeus Maritime University, the ALBA Graduate Business School & the Metropolitan College.
Dimitrios Mattheou is a prominent personality who worthy holds leading and challenging positions in global Shipping.
Discovering Green Award Foundation
Green Award is a non-profit, independent and international quality assessment certification scheme that inspects and certifies ships that go above and beyond the industry standards in terms of safety, quality and environmental performance.Established in 1994 has been acting both as a quality mark for high performing vessels and as a global network of ports, ship managers, charterers, maritime service providers and authorities, governed by the key industry representatives. With a worldwide presence in 30 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and South and North Americas has been delivering. Audits and certifies ships and shipping companies bringing benefits to its holders and contributing globally to sustainable waterborne transport. Until today, over 900 ships have been certified (inland and sea) and over 120 incentive providers which include ports and maritime service providers participate in the green scheme.
Captain, what are the greatest achievements of your previous 3-years-term in the helm of the Green Award Foundation?
I am frequently asked whether time is sufficient enough to make a meaningful impact as a Chairman in such a remarkable as well as demanding foundation as the Green Award. Approaching the end of my three years term, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I had been able to influence the course of events through continuous personal efforts to highlight the vital importance of the environmental and social responsibility in the shipping industry. However, the main objective of my efforts had been the establishment of win-win relationships among the parties involved which had the effect of significant long term economic benefits for both incentive providers and certificate holders.
After having reviewed my actions, I realized the substantial contribution to the development of our foundation taking into consideration of the list of the global enterprises and organizations that joined our Green Award team especially at a time of global economic crisis. Specifically speaking, during my three years chairmanship term, among the certificate holders and incentive providers that joined our scheme are: ABS (Global), Alba Graduate Business School And Deree-The American College Of Greece, Alpha Marine Consulting Ltd, Bureau Veritas, DANAOS Management Consultants DNV GL (Global), DYNAMARINe, ELSSI Drug Testing LTD, EPE (Environmental Protection Engineering) S.A, ERMA FIRST S.A, FRANMAN Group, GAC Greece, GAC UK, Gard AS , HudsonAnalytix (US), Katradis Group companies, Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR), MacGregor (Global), Magsaysay Maritime Corporation, MarineTraffic, Masters & Mates Union of Greek Merchant Marine, NanoPhos Marine, POSEIDON Marine Supplies, Setel Hellas, The Republic Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry , T&T Salvage (USA), VANOS S.A, The port of Thessaloniki ,etc.
After your reelection in the Chairmanship of Green Award Foundation can you describe the goals and objectives for the next three years?
From the outset of my term, my goals were specific with a clear description of what needs to be achieved, challenging but yet realistic and achievable, consistent with high quality standards and relevant with higher level of expectations and goals.
In particular, the central pillar of my Green Award official annual report as a Chairman this year was the Human Connection. Everything starts and ends with people. As a foundation we serve our mission with the simplicity, speed and delight of our services, but we are very clear on whom we serve; we serve people. We are truly committed to our people, our stakeholders, and our reinvention during the past year has been driven by assisting them to cultivate a prominent performance to serve their customers. Furthermore, we are clear on the industry we serve. Green Award is global in presence and mind-set. We have earned trust, by driving the highest standards in environmental performance and safety in Shipping. We will continue establishing strong human connections and grow our services in a sustainable way in order to establish win-win relationships among the parties involved concentrating upon the expansion both of our incentive providers mostly focused on ports, and of our certificate holders, specifically the ship owners. I have never been more optimistic in my Green Award chairmanship; optimistic about our vision, about our people, about the world we are building together.
What are the benefits for a shipping company or entity to join the membership of the Green Award Foundation?
Green Award certificate holders benefit in many ways from their participation in the scheme. Not only they receive recognition by the maritime industry and get expert assessments, but they are also entitled to various financial, operational and promotional advantages. Ship management companies can join as Certificate Holders. Ships and shipping companies in a possession of the Green Award certificate will benefit from:
- Independent audit performed by experienced and skilled surveyors working exclusively for Green Award
- Results of surveys on board and onshore are strictly confidential, only you will be informed about points for improvement
- Potential prevention of PSC detention or serious incidents
- Tool to maintain and improve safety, quality and environmental standards
- Advice onBest Practices
- Competitive advantage– Green Award helps to differentiate your company from competitors
- Financial incentives– discounts on port dues and maritime-related services and products
- Higher ranking in the RightShip and recognition in the Equasis database
- Green & high quality image to the industry, authorities and the public
- Publicity and Promotion: use of Green Award logo, listing on Green Award website and other promotional materials, invitation to Green Award annual events etc.
How do you feel as an ambassador of the values and principles of the Green Award Foundation and the Greek shipping industry?
I have been privileged to serve Shipping for more than forty years and I have been executing quite demanding roles through time. As a Green Award Chairman since 2015 and today after three years I feel excited and honored for earning -once again- the vote of confidence and trust of the Green Award committee members that allows me to continue my both demanding and challenging task as a Chairman. I feel very proud to represent once again the Green Award Foundation, and at this point, allow me to express my gratitude as well as my strong commitment to continue sharing my maritime knowledge and culture, my passion and inexhaustible energy driven by the Ethos and Values that qualify me as a person aiming to the unceasing evolution and excellence of the Green Award scheme. As an experienced man of Shipping, a public and well respected figure in all Maritime sectors, such as Shipping companies, clusters, classifications societies, Maritime Academic Institutions worldwide, but above all as a Greek originating from a nation that keeps the position of the leading country of Shipping and the native country of Seamen, I am willing to intensify my efforts to promote Green Awards’ Mission, Vision and Values, mainly because they reflect my own ideals, my personal mission, vision and values for Shipping. Hence, with a sense of pride and full responsibility I will keep leading through my vision and inspiring through my actions the Green Award, the Pride of the Oceans.
Do you cooperate and coordinate with other shipping associations in order to promote a common voice in the regulatory bodies and maritime authorities?
With respect to the objectives of our Foundation and the requirements of the regulatory bodies and maritime authorities, we do certainly take actions with other shipping associations. It is of great significance to mention the fact that the Green Award Boards consist of members representing the international maritime industry, including both public and private interests and therefore we all substantially contribute greatly with our knowledge and experience in ensuring the international standards and regulations governing shipping by moving in a parallel track with a common scope: to cultivate genuine innovation, environmental awareness and the concept of ‘Quality Excellence’ worldwide. More specifically, Executive committee members of the Green Award Boards represent associations such as: Port of Rotterdam, International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), The Society of International Gas Tanker & Terminal Operators Ltd (SIGTTO), INTERCARGO, International Union of Marine Insurance e.V. (IUMI), INTERTANKO, The Nautical Institute, Port of Amsterdam, ClassNK, Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport, US Coast Guard, HELMEPA, Centraal Bureau voor de Rijn- en Binnenvaart, Expertise- en Innovatie Centrum Binnenvaart (EICB), European Fuel Oxygenates Association (EFOA), etc.
The Port of Thessaloniki recently joined the league of Green Award stakeholders as an incentive provider what are your next steps?
The affiliation of the Port of Thessaloniki in the Green Award scheme is a great achievement of strategic importance. The Port of Thessaloniki is one of the largest Greek seaports and one of the largest ports in the Aegean Sea basin while constituting the most important port in Macedonia and one of the most important ports in Southeast Europe. The port enjoys a privileged position being located at the crossroad of land transportation networks. It has been characterized as a Port of National Interest in the Country’s Coast-guard System and one of the five Greek ports, which belongs to the Core Network of Trans-European Transport Networks.
We are very pleased to have such a value oriented organisation in the Green Award scheme and we are confident for its willingness to clearly demonstrate a commitment to achieving the Green Award Foundation’s objectives, mission and vision with a unique orientation on environmental excellence and safety in shipping. As the Chairman of the Green Award Foundation, I feel very proud to welcome the very first Greek seaport as our new incentive provider to the Green Award Foundation and I certainly expect that this frontrunner role worthy taken by the Port of Thessaloniki will both stimulate the local and peripheral shipping society and generate high interest of other ports to follow this eminent example and become part of this global green team.
I have noticed in your interviews and speeches that you often refer to the workforce as human capital and you highlight the dynamic relationship between people and organizational performance in Shipping.
Yes, indeed. It is my deepest belief that the way forward for the Maritime Industry is Skilled and Trained Seafarers beyond STCW basics. And allow me at this point to analyze my point of view. The value of a business is a function of how well the human capital is managed. We need to leverage -in a constant base- the skills and abilities of our people, by encouraging both individual and organizational learning, and by creating a supportive environment where knowledge can be created, shared and, above all, implemented. Our primary role should be to synthesize the available resources of the organization and to integrate them into a process that leads to the creation of true value for the stakeholders and to a sustainable competitive advantage for the organization itself; it is this successful process that can actually develop and place a company in a leading position in the shipping industry. The interactions between the organisation and the people that run its operation are particularly important in order for employees to have the motivation to develop and utilise their skills, experience and knowledge. We should encourage group bonding, improve effective communication between our people and motivate their productivity & efficiency by rewarding them in various ways. I must say that Human Capital reflects to effective Leadership; it is definitely a link to Success.
Do you consider the connection between technology and human element crucial and vital for an organizational performance?
Technology is a combination of physical objects (hardware), human skills, as well as organizational structures and functions; it is a system. This system has been created by the people for the people and uses knowledge and organizational principles to produce tools and techniques useful for the achievement of a purpose. It is a big challenge for shipping to adopt such an operating system. However, it depends on how we perceive and respond to that challenge. In other words, we should wonder how effectively and efficiently we perform with the absence of technology. In order to comprehend with the presence of technology and digitalization and cultivate a SMART shipping industry with SMART resources, we must first realize the fact that technology in shipping management should be an integral part of the value chain in shipping itself. Shipping will not lose its interest in people by being technology driven; rather, technology is a key to address the increasing needs of our people, our seafarers or shore based employees. In our field, we must work with caution and bridge the gap between technology and people. There is no doubt that technology will continue to advance our industry and allow our daily operation to become easier and more efficient, but technology can take us only so far. People have to step in and make technology understandable and usable for others. Certainly fatigue, health, familiarity, carelessness, family problems, pressure, shipboard living conditions can all play a part. People remain a basic component with all their strengths and weaknesses; they can both cause a disaster and prevent it. Our task is to sort out the issues and to build on the strengths and correct the weaknesses. This means that matters concerning seafarers need to be woven into the fabric of all international regulatory regimes. Not enough thought has been given to desirable attributes, such as mental and physical strengths, attitudes and personality to enable this century’s mariners to command a modern ship loaded with current and future technology. We are not there yet. The dramatic technological changes in shipping permitted the development of larger, faster and more complex ships than have ever been dreamed of previously. Yet, while significant gains in safety have undeniably been made, unfortunately casualties and incidents still do occur. In my view, we should applaud the safety improvements which are attributed to technology but if we are to achieve further gains, we must put the same amount of effort and energy into the one area begging for attention and that is human element. Ship owners will have to provide sophisticated and technologically advanced assessment centres to attract and retain talented people. Governments and shipping companies have to work jointly in order to protect the maritime culture, by recruiting the right type of young people who can be trained and developed into seafarers with the right attributes to become efficient and reliable watch keepers. In order to face this challenge we need to recast our education and training systems to develop these young minds so they become diligent.
However, we cannot ignore the emergence of cloud computing, digitization, test and learn strategies that have transformed human resources into a series of data centres and platforms. It seems that the human element may start to become digitized and commoditized through artificial intelligence. Digitalisation has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of human input needed by automating most of the workload. But no matter how fast digital technology is seeping into shipping HR departments in several fascinating ways, it cannot replace the human element. As Millennials take more positions within corporations, the influence of technology will increase, and provide a culture that values connection across the Shipping Industry. The challenge is now upon us, as it is upon the rest of the world. We must continue to adapt, or risk becoming obsolete. Furthermore, digitalization will provide the maritime sector with a platform to interact with modern e-commerce companies and charterers, which will ensure its survival and continued relevance in the coming decades, at the same time offering the potential to deliver safer, greener and more efficient carrier operations.
As a manager do you think inside or outside of the box?
I am afraid I will disappoint you. I simply see no box. And I also consider that seeing a ‘box’ is the main obstacle on the way we think; we are not able to liberate our thinking and therefore we cannot implement our vision. As human entities endowed with logic and sentiment, we should take full advantage of our physical charismatic tools, our mind and soul, and contribute actively and drastically by all means for the sake of the global community.
Do you believe that the IMO vision with reference to greenhouse gas emission limitation and long-term reduction will be directly adopted by the Shipping industry?
The IMO’s vision is to gradually minimize ship-borne exhaust emissions by the end of the century. Partial targets are to reduce pollutant emissions by 50% by 2050, while reducing the carbon content of ship fuels by 40% by 2030 and by 70% by 2050. These percentages are based on measurements of the year 2008. In order to achieve the above objectives, the technological solutions that will be applied in relation to the construction of their ships, their engines and the types of fuels of the ships to be developed will be necessary. In order to achieve a 50% gradual reduction in harmful exhaust emissions, it will require zero-carbon fuels with a low energy footprint. The results from the program proposed by the IMO for the collection of statistical data, its submission and evaluation by recognized organizations (IMO DCS – Data Collection System for Monitoring, Reporting and Verification of CO2 emissions from ships), will shape the Organization’s strategy , for the second half of this century.
The European Union also presented a corresponding data collection and assessment program for ship exhaust emissions
Indeed, the EU through Regulation EU MRV-regulation 2015/757, which refers to the recording, reporting and verification (Monitoring, Reporting and Verification) data related to ship exhausts, enacted against higher prices, aims to reduce emissions CO2 in the atmosphere from the exhaust gases of the ships. This regulation has been in force since 1 January 2018. Although these two regulations (MRV of the EU and DCS of the IMO) aim to collect marine fuel data to produce effects on harmful exhaust emissions, they differ in the type of data collected and the method verification, resulting in an obligation on the part of shipping companies to meet the requirements of both regulations in parallel.
Will incentives be given to ships that adopt alternative types of fuel and use environmentally friendly sources of energy?
Similar incentives are already provided, the so-called Green Port fees, from a limited number of ports worldwide, but there are doubts about their implementation and effectiveness. Few ships, compared to the world fleet, are entitled to reduced port taxes based on CO2 emissions. It is necessary to re-examine and broaden the basis for calculating pollutants so as to allow the inclusion of a larger number of ships enjoying reduced port dues. The current system for determining «environmentally friendly» ships does not include the category of GHG emissions in the categories assessed.
What is your assessment for the future on reducing greenhouse ‘gases’?
Alternative fuels and different sources of energy that can be used to propel ships are the obvious answers to the question. Machines for propulsion of ships burning fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) or other derivatives (LPG, Liquid Hydrogen, Ethane, Methanol, compressed natural gas (CNG)), as well as engines capable of moving from one type of fuel to another (dual-fueled engines – gas / liquid). However, they are not widely used as the technology is still in progress but also because of insufficient coverage of the supply network for such fuels on a global scale. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from marine combustion gases is an international challenge and a concern for many actors and stakeholders in shipping. Everyone agrees, state authorities and port organizations, professional bodies and organizations, shipownership and the workforce, how the environmental footprint and the influence of shipping on the life and future of our planet will be governed by regulatory practices and will be subject to a strategy will aim at preserving the transport of goods by sea to the status that has always been and is, the world’s largest and most environmentally friendly sector of activity.
As an experienced Captain who is actively involved and strongly committed to the protection of the marine environment, I believe you can sense the wind of change. What is your vision of Global Green Shipping?
The world is changing. And seamen are the first to sense the winds of change. I strongly believe that Environment is and will be for the years to follow our vision definer and our change provoker.
We need to know where we are today so that we can take the appropriate route to get where we want to go. Climate change is a physical fact, with scientific measurements being taken from a multitude of subsystems of the phenomenon and a wide number of regulations and laws that frame it; however the mental build-up of climate change does not refer to this fact. Climate change as a fact cultivates a social phenomenon that can be framed according to diverse ideological perspectives. Scientific, holistic research has been encouraged to better understand the anthropological bearing of climate change argues that climate change is but one of a convergence of crises that include political, social and environmental dilemmas and that these dilemmas should be looked at simultaneously to avoid an impending disaster.
We are all aware that when human actions or technologies are involved in environmental changes or disrupt natural processes, both risk and danger become more elevated, more disturbing and more threatening. Climate change has something of this hybrid nature of natural / technological disaster, with human society ready to reap a bitter harvest and a dramatically changed environment. In other words, Climate Change is not just about carbon dioxide levels and melting polar ice caps. It is about our public health, the protection of the human kind and our Earth. We should keep always in mind that our decisions taken today will define the environment’s future performance and our today’s actions bear our signature for the future of the next generations.
Environmental enhancement requires a glorious vision that can lead to vigorous actions. The only problem I see is that we stuck our minds on environmental legislations and ways to cope with them. Of course we need law and regulations to guideline our path but allow me to say that everything starts within. We are responsible and it is our mission to cultivate environmental awareness, environmental protection and excellence. I prefer conscious and not imposed actions; the first are long-lasting, the latter have a short end.