Ajinkya Kadam, Partnerships Manager, features under Spire Maritime spotlight

A version of this interview was first published by Spire Maritime

Describe what your company does and the problems you solve.

Between 1988 and 1991, nearly 100 seafarers were lost on large bulk carriers, mostly off the coast of Western Australia. These tragic events were the result of avoidable industry practices. The ensuing ‘Ships of Shame’ report issued by the Australian government shone a spotlight on an urgent need to improve industry standards.

The incidents led to RightShip forming in 2001, providing vetting and inspection services to founders Rio Tinto and BHP Freight. Over time, our various services have been rolled out to more than 600 other customers, and we’ve also broadened our scope, offering environmental and social expertise and access to data.

We’ve also evolved into a fully-fledged digital and tech company, ensuring our portal is intuitive and easy for our customers to use, making the tasks they undertake day-to-day to keep their ships, cargo and crew safe and sound, straightforward to perform.

Please share a personal story about yourself and how you came to work at your company.

I began my career as a sailing master - I was at sea for 12 years. I wanted to travel the world. But after a time, as many of us do, I came ashore to work for a Scandinavian shipping company, first in business development, then moving onto tech ecosystems.

I came to RightShip in 2021, leading the partnerships team. It’s my job to keep myself abreast of developments in the maritime industry and to watch out for interesting new players - and then try to find out whether we can collaborate with them or share data.

For example, our partnership with Spire Maritime began in 2021 – an arrangement giving us access to top quality data sets via Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) – which in turn helps us enhance our other solutions.

An excellent example of this is in our work with GeelongPort in Australia - they’re using our Maritime Emissions Portal (MEP) to track emissions from vessels that come in and out of their 15 berths. Thanks to MEP, they became the first port in Australia to be certified as carbon neutral, with the inclusion of Scope 3 vessel-based emissions in their carbon accounting.

Another success story is our relationship with the oldest port in Canada - the Port of Québec. They joined a growing list of organisations using our greenhouse gas (GHG) rating tool, also assessing the emissions of ships entering their waters. The Port now offers discounts on port fees to vessels, dependent on their GHG rating and emission efficiency.

Why do your customers choose to work with you? How is your company different from your competitors?

Customers like to work with RightShip because they believe in our vision of a maritime industry causing zero harm and they understand that our data is robust and reliable. We’ve been a big name in the shipping industry for 20 years – and I think we’re confident, but humble, about our outreach and our aims. We know we can’t achieve our aim of zero harm without the collaboration of others.

RightShip has the passion of a start-up but is nonetheless an established player. We’re still the same organisation we ever were – consistent and fair – and we treat every customer or potential partner in the same even-handed open way.

We also offer a range of solutions others might not – many organisations will be looking to create Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reports for the first time.

At RightShip, we have the expertise to help with ’E’ elements - our greenhouse gas (GHG) Rating, our Carbon Accounting, our Maritime Emissions Portal. We can support with the ‘S’ too, via the Code of Conduct and our crew welfare self-assessment. Finally, we also cover off ‘G’ aspects via our vettings, inspections and Safety Score.

It’s the complete package – and yet we’re keen to expand. We want to keep growing our offering with partners who know this material better than we do.

Can you share a time when you worked with a specific customer and achieved better than expected results?

A fascinating new partnership we’ve just begun is with Plug and Play. This gives us opportunities to reach out to start-ups at an early stage in their development. We can provide guidance on how to grow and innovate within the maritime space, perhaps helping them avoid initial errors and develop quicker.

Our expertise will support others to focus on the right issues, and we can also share business cases to them. We can grow and mentor them, particularly with a focus on decarbonisation – there’s real potential for hundreds of connections all over the world.

How does your company culture inspire you to keep innovating?

RightShip feels very different from places I’ve worked before and the fact that it’s transitioning to a more digital and tech-based company is very exciting. I try to absorb new things every day and studying different topics outside our usual sphere of business is really encouraged here. We’ve recently all been given access to LinkedIn Learning and we are asked to include time for personal development in our weekly schedules.

I think there’s a real openness at RightShip that our leaders are not afraid to ‘fail fast’ – better to do that than wait and wait for perfection until it’s too late. I also really appreciate RightShip’s devotion to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

I have two daughters myself and appreciate that every day’s a school day when it comes to making meaningful change happen for their future success. The initiatives we’re signing up to, pledging to encourage a more diverse workforce in the maritime industry and making our organisation more welcoming, really mean something to me.

What is something about your work that makes you feel proud?

Since I’ve joined, we’ve seen six partnerships come online, including those with Shipfix and NxtPort. This has helped broaden our horizons and reach many more potential customers with our solutions.

Traditionally, RightShip was a lot more reticent about linking up with other organisations, but under our CEO Steen Lund’s leadership, we’ve opened up and created this new way of working – a real willingness to share. I really believe we’re championing a vision for zero harm for the entire shipping industry.

Having witnessed incidents on ships such as spillages, accidents and personal injuries, the zero-harm vision really resonates with me. Damage to wildlife is horrendous to see, and really stays with you.

The fact that I am connecting so many people and bringing about efficiencies in the industry - and the ability to save effort, time, money and the planet makes me proud! Not many people can say they do all of that in a day’s work.