Filipino officers showed ability, proficiency and improved confidence at the Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) Fleet Leaders’ Meeting (FLM) held November 22-23 at the New World Manila Bay Hotel, Manila, Philippines.

A mix of 70 junior and senior officers participated, proudly displaying on their shirts the theme, Leading the Way Forward to promote the “Leadership” theme of the meeting and supporting BSM’s vision of being a leading industry ship manager.

BSM is an integrated maritime solutions provider, weathered 135 years on oceans, managing over 640 vessels in more than 34 locations, employing 18,000 seafarers, the biggest block of which are Filipino.

Andrew Cummings, Fleet manager, Bernhard Schulte Ship Management Center Singapore, says “The distance between people on the ships and in the office could be smaller when they actually meet and listen to everybody’s opinion.”

Cummings is pleasantly surprised things are changing. In Singapore, they think Filipino officers lack confidence. Now, he saw young people talk to a big group. Management skills develop when Second Officers stand up to give opinions, expectedly doing the same on board.


Confidence builder.

The theme of the two-day meeting is leadership and management, where BSM encourages  seafarers to develop skills and knowledge imparted on board to actively engage with their colleagues and practice the skills. Only by doing this will they further develop qualities needed to command BSM vessels.

Capt. Joseph Raluta, Director-BSM Maritime Training Centre-Philippines, believes that there may be an overload of technical knowledge, but a shortfall on qualitative skill – the human element part.

Raluta says, “The emphasis should now be “one competency against ten competencies working on a certain task is better.” IMO has not focused on lack of emotional quotient, a policy trend that is counter-productive when adopted by leadership and management.


Goals and agenda.

FLM is an implementation of the 2017 Human Element, Leadership & Management (HELM) subject. It is also a forum for officers to interact with shore staff in an open environment.

Rather than numerous different subjects for short periods, HELM topics are delivered in one continuous flow for 1.5 days, followed by how to apply these in operational situations.

FLM is interactive with exercises and workshops to reinforce presentations, as well as to stimulate discussion and generate learning outcomes and transferable skills.

The focus on HELM within FLMs is mainly to support skill development for our seafarers and further enhance operational performance. This contributes to promoting safe practices by sharing experiences or ideas in an informal and relaxed environment.

FLM is for all BSM Deck and Engine Officers, where attendance is required as part of the promotion process for senior officers.

Stewart Bankier, Personnel Development and Projects Officer, Bernhard Schulte: “For officers to progress in their career path, we have a competency management system on board that helps them develop their skills and knowledge, as well as training courses ashore, where we add value to the basic industry standard of STCW.  FLMs allow and support these systems and training allows our seafarers to come together and share experience.”

Captain Jenlou Bordaje, 44 years old and 21 years with BSM: “There is an in-house training programme and concerns may be expressed without fear at FLMs, be it on finance, training or employment, guided by knowledgeable experts.”

Earl Brian Gallego, Second Officer, 27-year old and graduate of the University of Cebu under the International Mariners Employment Council (IMEC) cadetship programme. Gallego impressed BSM managers with his wit and wisdom: “I’ve been at BSM since a cadet in 2010, now sailing on tankers, chemical ships and car carriers. I’ve been through teaching courses that gave me confidence to relate to people.”

Gallego wants to be a Master and one day move ashore at one of BSM’s offices (after his sailing years). He loves the FLM for improving his knowledge, working with his crewmates and developing himself through learning about the leadership skills we need.

Captain Armando Santosidad, Director-BSM Crew Service Centre Philippines, gave the audience an ongoing situation in the office to pump out discussions on leadership types. He admired Captain Bordaje for sharing great answers, asking the audience for a big hand to the captain.

John Pritchett, BSM Corporate Manager-Fleet Personnel Training and Development, shares that “Leadership is a relationship, it’s a lot more personal between the people that you are dealing with. It’s about selecting talent, identifying the best resources to do different jobs, different tasks. It’s obviously about motivating people, giving people a reason on why they’re doing something, coaching or mentoring.”