Safety4Sea hosted an interview with our Co-Founder, Philip Nielsen, who is also the European General Manager of Orca AI.

In his current role, he finds it very challenging to cooperate with a variety of people, both ashore and onboard, introducing them the benefits of many existing digital tools which aim at making their everyday processes more efficient, more cost-effective and also being much more meaningful and enjoyable.

SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Philip Nielsen: I came late into the maritime sector, so, in my next life I promise to start in Shipping from day one. It was nearly 10 years ago and at that time I had a successful and innovative tech agency specializing in digital applications. An explosive growth followed an unstable economic environment, so I decided to diversify as I needed new challenges and Maritime seemed the most appropriate field. After all, the “miracle of the Greek Shipping Industry” has always magnetizing me. My initial maritime involvement was in the field of D&A testing. Little did I know that few years later I would end up combining my two passions: technology and marine. That resulted in… digital maritime transformation.

S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
Ph.N: That no two days are the same. I feel like being on a sailing boat and having the ride of my life. It is the magic of seeing a strong and very traditional industry entering a new and challenging era – the digital area, the best being, that I am part of it. People do not easily change their habits (their daily working  methods), so it is our challenge as Oriani (The Maritime Digital Transformation Company) to show them the benefits of many existing digital tools making their everyday processes more efficient, more cost-effective and also being much more meaningful and enjoyable. Also, the excitement to cooperate with a huge variety of different people both at sea and on ashore  (Captains, Engineers, Senior Executives) from all over the world in a 24X365 shift, sharing with you their plethora of experiences. A paradise for workaholics!

S4S: When you think of the word successful who’s the first person who comes to mind and why?
Ph.N: I will give you three briefly: My Mother; who is 90 and she is still working part time. I think it is a remarkable thing to keep doing the thing you love (durability). Steve Jobs; because he got fired from his own company only to come back and create global disruption and success (persistence). Yarden Gross; CEO of Orca AI, who although young has already successfully started his second start up and remains focused on what he does (perseverance).

S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why ?
Ph.N: I can’t single out just one person. Through years I had the privilege of meeting amazing people from completely different backgrounds, each one being a teacher or a guide at a certain time of my life. People, even “simple” people, can enlighten your life when you don’t expect it. One of them, Antony, used to say “Life is uncertain, unpredictable and unfair”, i.e. be prepared to excel outside your comfort zone.

S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given and why?
Ph.N: Worst = Follow the rules. Do what everybody would do.

Best = Do not regret things you tried. Not trying would be much worst

Acta Non Verba =Deeds not words

S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
Ph.N: Starting my own businesses. Creating a company, a brand from nothing (from scratch) and starting with a zero budget, but with an invaluable supply, the daily support of my family .

S4S: If you could give a piece of advice to your 18-year-old-self one thing, what would it be and why? What piece of advice should you ignore?
Ph.N: Listen to others but don’t do what they tell you to do. Don’t follow the crowd. Be yourself and take calculated risks. I would ignore any advice that kills ones creativity.

S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
Ph.N: Good nutrition and my passion for Sports, especially the following three: mountain running, alpine skiing and cross training. If your body is fit and healthy, your mind will be sharp, focus and responsive.

S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
Ph.N: I would like to see a flirt, and hopefully a marriage of solid seamanship with big data. Get many young Greeks to enter the maritime sector. Make Maritime the highlight in the vocational guidance courses and show Greek teenagers the benefits of a career in maritime. Help them spend a few years on vessels and then give the good ones mentoring and space to thrive. It is not only about inheriting a glorious past but creating a bright future, as people and as a nation.

S4S: What is your personal motto?
Ph.N: Again, let me give you three:

“Game’s not Over” meaning that nothing is lost or final. The clock is always ticking and there is always another option…

“What does not kill you only makes you stronger” I seem to witness this on a daily basis…

“Keep Learning”, a paraphrase from the advertising slogan of a famous whisky’s brand…

Philip Nielsen is a multilingual & multicultural European. Philip was born in Denmark, educated and worked in England, currently living in Greece. He is passionate about using technology in a creative and versatile way for solving business issues. For the past 10 years he has been working in the Maritime Industry and its digital transformation, assisting global Shipping Companies to unlock their full potential by adopting; e-solutions, using efficiently big data and user-friendly analytics. Today he is the European General Manager of Orca AI, an innovative Israeli Maritime startup and a shareholder in Oriani Hellas, a company specializing in Maritime Digital Transformation.