Millennials in Maritime Series: An Introduction

by Matthew Wittemeier

Something different happened at TOC Europe this year, and it happened mostly under the radar. A quick session on Wednesday morning took place on the TECH TOC stage, and while it was only a brief, 75 minutes in duration, it was undoubtedly different from everything else that happened at the three-day event. The session was titled “Millennials in Maritime,” “MiM” for short, and it solely featured Millennial-aged panelists debating topics across four main categories: people, environment, industry, and technology. Challenged by the session’s moderator, Dirk Schlemper of INFORM’s Logistics Division (distinctly not a Millennial), many of the answers offered a unique perspective on our industry, its role in the broader global marketplace, and the role of Millennials therein.

The panel was comprised of six Millennials stemming from across the maritime industry. The aim was to build a panel that represented the diversity of our industries’ makeup. Panelists were carefully chosen and invited to ensure a balanced perspective:

Behind these six individuals was a range of backup panelists and other experts who also added tremendous value along the way. What follows is a series that offers a snapshot of the MiM session enriched with anecdotes and supporting interview content where appropriate.

Why Millennials Matter

“Millennials,” “Generation Y,” “Digital Natives,” “Generation Avocado Toast” – These are many terms that describe a group of people who were born between 1981 to 1996. Today, they are the largest generation on this planet, and, by 2025, they will make up 75% of the global workforce. However, one only needs to take a look around to see that in our industry, Millennials are underrepresented.

Take, for example, the tech talk sessions at TOC Europe. Having gone through the list and counted the number of Millennial speakers across all three days (excluding the MiM session), the number of Millennials was 7 versus 65 Baby Boomers or Generation Xers. What's worse, many of these industry veterans are going to retire in the next decade, and we need to attract younger people to fill the gaps their retirements will create. In short, the Millennials are about to inherit the legacy of the Baby Boomers. But, is it the legacy that they would want?

The MiM session looked beyond the stereotypes commonly held for Millennials – they’re materialistic, arrogant, lazy, selfish people. This series will follow the same split that the MiM session adhered to with four following articles on people, environment, our industry, and finally, technology before a final wrap-up article to tie everything back together. Focusing in on just the highlights of each of the four topics, the subsequent articles will follow from the transcript of the MiM session as it was recorded. So, to get us on our way, over to Dirk…

Since we didn't dare to ask our Millennials to switch off their mobile phones, we will integrate them into the session. And, each topic will start with a Twitter question. Okay, folks, are you ready? Let's go…

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About the author

  • Matthew Wittemeier

    Matthew Wittemeier is Director Marketing and Sales at INFORM's Terminal & Distribution Center Logistics Division where he’s become a thought-provoking contributor to many industry publications and conferences. He’s also co-author of the award winning 2038: A Smart Port Story - a story about the future of technology and the social challenges it may bring.

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