The rise of a new maritime leader for a digital age

A new kind of leader is emerging as seafaring and shipping enters the Algorithmic Age. Dr Cristina Dragomir looks at the outcome and asks what needs to change.

Algorithmic age is an actual time context where automated technologies and decision-making systems start to influence world scale transport economies, affecting directly and indirectly, end users and beneficiaries.


In the Algorithmic age, digitalization contributes to upward economic and social convergence, promoting sustainable growth of economies and in our industry, encouraging the creation of high-quality maritime jobs and added value in the transport sector.


Digital technology supports the process of transforming the way in which existence can be facilitated by integrating maritime stakeholders and fields of activity for the benefit of seafarers, their families and maritime businesses overall. Reacting properly and duly in situations of digital and technological crisis is a key aspect during challenging advanced maritime operations.

A new leader rises

In such contexts, a new type of leader is emerging in the maritime industry: the maritime digital leader, which is the icon person who explores the growing use of digital technologies in maritime operations, addressing risks in fast-moving digital and real environments, while adapting the role of mentorship for both non-tech and high-tech skilled followers.

The emergence of the Algorthimic Age in shipping will have a “Butterfly Effect” across the sector

While the Covid-19 pandemic had a profound impact on seafarers that were refused crew exchange, lost their jobs or experienced significant income loss, the same harsh period catalyzed the use of digitalization in maritime activities.


The current generation of professionals had to upskill to keep their jobs in a new work environment while for young people, the entry to the maritime labour market became challenging during this period.


Access to enhanced digital skills through Maritime Education and Training (MET) had the multiplicative outcome of  ensuring social fairness through access to online education, digital training and dedicated  lifelong learning/re-skilling programs in the maritime sector.


The update of classic MET programs in the wake of the pandemic had the benefit of building resilience to react to future crises, based on the lessons learnt, and to strengthen sustainable competitiveness for resilient societies.

In the algorithmic era, emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence , the Internet of Things, datafication or remote working lead to the need for new and increased digital competences.


Such emerging technologies comes with something more.


We cannot forget the green and sustainability aspects of the maritime sector, which still have to be addressed, however now we need to perceive them in interaction with digital technologies.


How can digitalization in the maritime help itsstakeholders uptake and deploy sustainability needs? 


Such a perspective requires further understanding of current trends, digital services and available products that are the results of innovation and research investments.   


Maritime innovation produces a butterfly effect on  current skills, and , knowledge, as well as attitudes for current seafarers, with the preparation of  the next generation of up-skilled seafarers.

Researching the e-farer

Seafarers need to be able to fact-check online content and its sources (information literacy), they need competences when interacting with AI systems, they have to avail new opportunities offered by technologies, while dealing with the risks occurred from algorithmic developments in social media and maritime digital technologies.


The above information is part of the research grant “Challenges of Maritime Digital Leaders in the Algorithmic Age” awarded by the International Association of Maritime Universities (IAMU) in Japan and the Nippon Foundation between 2021-2022.


The research is analyzing the necessity to update the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) with new digital and leadership competencies requirements for the safe operation of ships.


Partial results of the study indicate that maritime leaders should learn and understand how to use responsibly digital technologies in order to create ethical competitive advantages and welfare in the maritime business.


If you want to contribute to this research, you are hereby invited to take part in a digital change survey, by answering these 10 questions:  


 This article first appeared on WISTA International’s Technology and Future Committee blog. Reproduced with permission

Dr. Cristina Dragomir is a scholar and maritime gender equality expert, with input in developing fair access to education and employment in maritime transport.



Cristina is an associate professor at Constanta Maritime University from Romania in the department of Management in Transports. 


She gives lectures on Transport Technologies, Management of Ship Commercial Operations, and Human Resources Management since 2008, being invited as a lecturer in other universities and as a speaker at international and national events

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