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CSM sailing in Italy – Interview with CSM Italy Managing Director Xanthos Kyriacou

With over 40 years of experience and dozens of business centers around
the world, Columbia Shipmanagement opens a new office in Genoa.

The Group, which offers the entire range of services dedicated to the maritime world, with a strong focus on training and strategic consulting, also aims to establish itself on new horizons. But how is it possible to grow, even in a historical moment characterised by great uncertainties and profound transformations? «It is at times
of uncertainty that a quality manager comes into its own», Xanthos Kyriacou, Managing Director of the Italian division of the company, says.

«By understanding the needs of our clients as well as the challenges of the market, CSM can drive in solutions that can result in efficiencies and bottom line gains being achieved. Whether it is rolling out the suite of CSM Group products and services that can drive in operational value or create additional efficiencies through
the work of CSM’s Vessel Performance Optimisation Control Room, we offer our partners a scaled and tailored offering, a “second party” shipmanagement operation, an integrated maritime services platform providing management, logistics, procurement, technology, IT, crewing, catering and people».

«We are able to adapt and are prepared to respond rapidly to our client’s requests», adds the manager. «We invest in our people, both ashore and onboard, and try to be ahead of the challenges faced in the marketplace. By combining the strengths of our CSM Group with those of our partner companies, we are able to grow in the right way to meet the needs of the market». Why does a company as CSM decide to open a physical office in Genoa, when the world is shifting operations towards digital? « Genoa has a proud maritime tradition and
was an excellent choice for a regional office. The Italian shipping industry has been long established and so it was a natural step for Columbia Shipmanagement to establish a local presence to support our existing clients as well as welcome new ones. Local representation in Italy means we are able to maintain high standards of
support on a local scale more effectively and efficiently».

Targets and Strategy

What is CSM’s strategy for Italy and how do you intend to proceed? «Our ultimate goal is to help regenerate the Italian shipping cluster by partnering with local Italian shipping companies. We recognise the need for a more modern and realistic approach to achieving scalability in ship management. CSM Italy will provide the
highest quality and professional integrated management services by continuing to provide added-value through our commitment to be world-class ship managers. CSM Italy has started working with key Italian players such as Premuda but also offers the full range of management and maritime services provided by the CSM Group to the entire Italian maritime cluster. The share capital of CSM Italy will be potentially open to other participants – Italian owners and operators – willing to join the spirit of such an initiative». The Cyprus-based company has also recently established a new financial arm, capable of leading the transition to the Italian market, while also developing a new model for Italian shipowners who want to reenter the sector.

«CSM has also established a new finance arm that will spearhead the move into the Italian market and we have developed a new model for Italian shipowners seeking to re-enter the sector. CSM Finance offers a range of financial products including debt finance, equity contributions and use of family offices. Even where owners are currently able to secure employment of assets, they may lack the means, desire or confidence to invest in the assets themselves. CSM’s financing venture makes it affordable and attractive for these families to come back». What can be an “added value” for a global company like Columbia Shipmanagement? «It is all about understanding the market and the client and knowing where savings and efficiencies can be made that not only enhance the quality of the shipmanagement operation, but make a difference financially to the client’s bottom line», Kyriacou emphasizes.

«Columbia has developed a unique set-up that enables it to provide flexible packages of modular management & maritime services, fully-customised and specifically tailor-made for each client. Our turnkey solutions guarantee costoptimised operations and benefits obtained from economies of scale.

We collaborate with partner companies to provide a wide range of additional services that provide added quality through integrated maritime services including catering, mental health support, independent procurement services, waste management, impactful sustainability and ESG strategies, cutting-edge IT software development as well as aircraft management. The fact that the office is smaller and more customer-focused means we can also deliver the type of personal service that a boutique style of operation would be able to offer while maintaining the benefits of a large company such as the Columbia Group».

Mental Health and support to the seafarers

Seafarers’ Mental Health and other particular issues are now finally having a new perception. What is your point about it and how you want to follow the path? «Columbia aims to change the conversation on seafarer’s mental health by tackling the stigma, which is why we have put all our efforts to become the first shipping
company offering its crew and staff psychological support. Columbia Shipmanagement collaborates with Mental Health Support Services (MHSS) which has a team of psychologists able to provide one-on-one support in the strictest of confidence 24/7, 365 days a year. At CSM, through our ICARE philosophy we work
hard to place our people and their mental and physical well-being, their fitness and nutrition at the top of our list of priorities».

«During these complicated times, we have continued to stand by our seafarers and their families. Together with the support of our clients, we have raised $1.3m to put directly into the CSM Solidarity Fund, created to support seafarer families affected by the conflict in Ukraine. Recently we ensured safe accommodation for CSM seafarer families at guest houses at our disposal in Poland and Romania, providing them with financial as well as help with their mental health issues».

How do you think is going to change the seafarers’ lives onboard, thanks to technology and other developments? From a private point of view, it is evident that technology is allowing seafarers to be much closer to their families than ever before. The addition of internet onboard ships means that seafarers are a lot closer to their loved ones and this has positive benefits when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. Technology also plays a major role in making vessel management and operational processes more efficient. It is all about driving value to the bottom line and CSM is an industry leader when it comes to harnessing the powers of digitalisation and SMART Technology. Our Performance Optimisation Control Room (POCR) provides the highest rate of optimisation and efficiency for vessels and shore operations. Monitored by specialists 24/7, the POCR allows clients to have a greater level of transparency and visibility of their operations. But it also ensures that the seafarer onboard ship is able to do his/her job to the highest level
because of the technological support they are receiving from the POCR operation ashore.

«Our partnership with Adobe and OneLearn and the creation of our industryleading E-Learning and internet based Learning Management System is the greatest benefit and tool for our People as it provides tailored learning based on each person’s individual needs. This has been further enhanced with the introduction of portal-based training where course experts or tutors can contribute virtually to group training sessions or important client meetings, as holograms thousands of miles away, so maximising efficiencies, cutting costs and driving in mentoring quality. The equipment we use is high tech but very portable and takes the whole issue of speaker contributions to conferences or business meetings to a completely different level. A fleet director in one part of the world can mentor ships’ officers attending a conference in another, while customers and suppliers can have more intuitive and interactive meetings without having to step on a plane and fly thousands of miles to a meeting. This is ‘tomorrow’s world’ happening today».

Read the full interview here: https://www.shipmag.it/columbia-shipmanagement-genova/