When I first came ashore into a conventional office environment, it became obvious pretty quickly that I was going to have adjust how I operated, what pace I operated at, and I was going to have to build up some skills I had not yet fully developed (or in fact needed) when working onboard.
So what were my 3 biggest challenges?
- Working environment. You have to start almost from scratch to learn the operating system ashore. There are different named departments (finance, legal, operations, technical, chartering, commercial, HSEQ, etc etc) that may or may not have to be involved in certain decisions and meetings. Depending upon the size and complexity of the office or shorebased organization you come to – this can be either just a short learning process, or a major brain recalibration…
- Dealing with Captains and crew. Believe it or not, at first was an issue. Having been poacher turned gamekeeper as it were, it was challenging for me for the first few years to get things right in terms of tone, pace and method of communications with the crew to be an effective manager. I know I am not the only one…I remember having to speak frankly with a technical superintendent who reported to me some years ago about the same issue – he was emailing the crews in CAPITAL LETTERS ONLY and so everyone got the hump because they felt he was shouting at them…!
- Finance. Onboard you may have some limited exposure to the finance side of the ship, but it’s only when you come ashore and start to be responsible for budgets, OPEX and CAPEX, that it really hits home how much of a knowledge gap there can be.
For those considering coming ashore, I would certainly recommend doing some short courses to supplement your existing STCW based qualifications. Mariners coming ashore are experts onboard, but the reality is there are knowledge gaps and gaps in understanding that take some time and perhaps some additional training to bridge those gaps and allow them to be most effective.
I would always advocate talking to your employer when you first come ashore about seeing if they are willing to provide some training where needed. Bringing this up in an interview can also show a willingness to learn, and humbleness, which potential employers will find positive.
My top short course recommendation for Mariners coming ashore, both Deck and Engine, is finance for non-finance managers (or similar). No matter where you end up ashore, having a decent understanding of cash flow, profit and loss accounts, and what a balance sheet is etc. will really stand you in good stead for the future.
If you are a Mariner thinking of coming ashore, or looking for your next move in your early shorebased career, please go ahead and register interest on our website at
Mariners also please do join our Linkedin group to join other Mariners looking to come ashore, or already in successful shore based careers. https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13921345/