Real Time Graduates - Questions for Interviews
A discussion with Mrs. Stavriana Asprogiannidou - Associate Director - Willis Towers Watson
- What will you advise a young graduate who starts his professional career in shipping?
At the beginning, be prepared to dedicate your spare time during the working day (and maybe beyond) on learning all aspects of your job, either by reading or by asking questions to your peers and senior colleagues. It's worth it. Work hard, be consistent and always remember that what you put in is what you get out!
- What are the most important qualifications a person should have to work in the shipping sector?
Education is crucial but doesn’t have to be specifically shipping. Economic, engineering, law and of course shipping related majors are all very important tools for your career. These get you in the door but what keeps you there is how you operate. Be consistent, work hard and always keep a professional ethos. It is extremely important to know how to listen and learn from the most experienced people. Be inquisitive and curious and challenge the status quo when you deem necessary.
- Why did you decide to work in the shipping sector?
The sea has always fascinated me and anything that has to do with it. I always thought of shipping as a dream job but never actually thought that I could pursue a career in shipping. When doing my MSc in London I attended a presentation by WTW. As a result, I got asked whether I wanted to join them on the shipping side. 8 years later I am still here and very happy about my decision.
- What do you remember from your first years working in shipping?
There was always a new case, a new client, a new issue that I was asked to deal with. You will never have the same day during your shipping career and it takes a lot of passion and “filotimo” to get used to it. Whether it is a client, a colleague or someone on the other side of the phone always treat them with respect and in the same way you yourself would like to be treated.
5. Do you think that the shipping community needs to embrace new practices to attract young talent in the shipping sector?
I think shipping seems very attractive to young talent. However, I believe that there should be new practices to retain the appropriate talent. Shipping like many other established industries are going through an evolution so being patient and constructive in helping it evolve will not only attract talent but retain it.
- What are the most important changes that occurred in the shipping sector the last five years?
Unfortunately, the hard shipping market has forced some shipping companies to leave the industry.
On the other hand, technology has been fully embedded in the shipping industry (including the deployment of blockchain on some occasions) and I am sure the next couple of years will be very interesting.
- What do you think about the situation of Maritime Education in Greece?
Given the strength of the “Greeks” in the shipping industry we can certainly do more on the education front. We should leverage this position in the industry by offering more maritime modules even at high school level and show young people how fascinating and satisfying a job either at sea or onshore can be.
- What changes do you believe that the new generation of shipping executives can bring to the traditional shipping sector?
The new generation of shipping executives will be more open and better equipped to the use of technology, to improve safety of the people on the water and onshore, increase profitability and mitigate risk. I hope this will also simplify and streamline the enormous amount of transactions occurring on a daily basis,
- How important are internships to both the graduates and the shipping companies?
It is a great opportunity for young people to understand what each profession does and have a clear picture about how we all work together to support the shipowners and the shipping industry as a whole. Spending some time with different companies or different teams in the same company will help each candidate to decide what he or she is more attracted to and make a better career choice.
- If you were to give advice to your younger self, regarding your professional life, what would it be?
I was quite shy when I first started so I would advice myself to ask more questions and ask to get more involved. The more you take on the better you become.
- What does your daily schedule from the moment you wake up, look like?
I wake up quite early, so I can have my whole day ahead of me. It also helps when I am in London to be in working mode when the Greek offices open.
I always check my emails when I first wake up and respond to all urgent matters as soon as possible. I then go to the office (unless I have client or underwriting meetings) and deal with whatever the day throws at me.
- If you were to advise a young person to NOT do one thing in their professional life, what would that one thing be?
Do not lie in order to please your audience. If you do not know the answer to a question, go back and check with your peers for help. But never ever pretend you know something that you don’t.