As global shipping enters a new era, BIMCO’s newly elected president – Turkish ship owners Sadan Kaptanoglu – has set herself the goal of gathering as many shipowners around the table as possible, to find ways of steering a course through the walls environmental challenges.

Entering in an important New Era of 2020 and on the environmental front there can be seen a lot of change challenges. The BIMCO president believes that we must be in dialogue with our members and with our non-member friends because we are all in the same boat.

Kaptanoglu says, 47, is the third generation of the Kaptanoglu family to run the family business and she believes it is fundamental that business leaders should always say “we” and not “I”. Owners and employees, she believes, exists solely for the sake of the company and this is one reason why she admires BIMCO.

The guiding principle of the BIMCO organisation is that every member has a voice and that it is about the shipping community as a whole. It is all about us- “we”.



The BIMCO president is constantly talking about 2020 and then you sulphur regulation coming into force but she points out, “very soon” that issue will fade away and the really tough challenges of achieving the reduction of 50% in greenhouse gas emission by 2050 will become the primary focus. She also highlights plastics in the ocean as a massive test ahead for the world.

It is time for everyone, individually, regardless of being in shipping or not, to take responsibility for our environment. A shipowner, a shipping company, a shipping agency, even a shipping employee cannot be an exception. Whatever we do, from a little to a lot, it will count for something. As our environment and climate are in danger, she says and highlights that for example, with 8 million tons of plastics going into the ocean every year and 80% coming from land-based sources, the engagement to solve that problem will have to be very wide. She points out that the shipping industry has already done a lot the sector has cut its CO2 emissions by more than 30% since 2008, relative to the amount of goods transported; throwing plastics overboard and has been illegal since 1988; and the number of oil spills has been dramatically cut since the 1960s, to name a few examples.

Concerning the issue on everyone’s lips – the 0.50% sulphur limit – she considers herself a realist. There will be problems, simply because of the scale and complexity of the switch. Even if we are very, very ready, there will be problems that we have to face, because it is not only ship owners who are exposed – it also involves bunker suppliers, port states and manufacturers. There are so many involved. Therefore, I say; be realistic. Be prepared and solve the problems when they appear.


Shipping’s image issue

The industry does not have the image among the public of being environmentally responsible, despite it being the world’s first international industry to commit to reduce emissions. Changing our image must be a joint effort for all shipping people. We need to talk about it with our friends our families and more formal settings with regulator and politicians. Resting on our laurels is not an option. The industry must find partners to find and develop solutions. Shipping will be regulated more on the environment, and ship owners must continue to support this. This should be our motto. She regrets the more reluctant voices in the maritime industry who talk of a sense of being overburdened by the environmental rules heading for shipping, as it hurts the perception of the sector. The challenges ahead will encourage the in industry to become sustainable and responsible and create an opportunity to improve prove that image.


Leading is learning

Sadan wrote her PhD thesis on “sustaining competitive advantage of family business through cooperative decision making” and her motto of saying we aligns perfectly with being the head of the world’s largest direct – membership organisation for shipowners. To be a good leader she says, you must be able to learn and adapt to have a long-term business, the entire leadership team must be involved in mentoring and helping others in the organization. It is like a relay race you want to make sure you can handle it over to the next person.

Today, BIMCO has 1900 members in 120 countries. The organisation engages people from all the main shipping communities through committees, conferences, seminars, and via online insight and products. As BIMCO is able to bring all these different parties together, we hear a lot of different ideas and I think that is why we have often been ahead of our time, on the regulation front for example.



She can reference many mentors and role models. Her professional relationships with past and current leaders in BIMCO have been tremendous importance to her. She particularly highlights the input and friendship of BIMCO’s first Turkish Vice-president is Esref Cerrahoglu, who introduced her to BIMCO. But there is one role model who stands above everyone else – someone who fought hard for her right to be the person she is today.

If you ask me about one person that I want to be, I will have to say my mom (Atiye Kaptanoglu ed). I would love to be my mother. I am not sure how to explain this, but she has a capacity to communicate with everybody. She had four kids and a very determined and demanding husband, and yet she never change her course in life. She is a very strong woman and so she is someone I would admire, even if she was not my mother.

Ceniz Kaptanoglu is not only my father, he is the father of Turkish shipping as well, and he is such a high achiever. He is able to work 24 hours straight and he never forgets anything. He will never forget a name or a face or a story. We in the younger generation, have come to an agreement that we all respect him very much but can’t try to be him, it’s too much, she says laughing. Both her parents set the example by always doing what they said they would do- and she tries to emulate that in her private life and in her role as a leader.

When my father said, every night you will be home at 8:30 because we will have dinner together, you could not avoided because he was there at 8:30 to have dinner what us. He was available to us. I know that, for a hardworking man, is such a rare quality, and specially then – I am talking the 70s and 80s. The mentoring in my family was excellent. Kaptanoglu, herself the mother of two daughters, aged 11 and 15 says, without my husband’s support and support of all my family, I would never be able to be where I am today. In June, she took her two daughters to see her professor and mentor in London, Costas Gramennos. He told them of the three pillars of success, hard work, hard work, and hard work. Today, the Kaptanoglu family eats earlier than 08:30 pm, but everyone still sits down for dinner. The mentoring continuous..


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