Home CSN news “My Way” an interview with Capt. Eberhard Koch President of Cyprus Marine...

“My Way” an interview with Capt. Eberhard Koch President of Cyprus Marine Club

Capt. Eberhard Koch, President of the Cyprus Marine Club and Stella Violari, Editor of Cyprus Shipping News

Capt. Koch is the Chairman, CEO and a Partner of Oesterreichischer Lloyd Shipping
Group. He received his diploma in Nautical Sciences (Dipl-Naut.) at Hochschule für Nautik in Bremen (University of Bremen) in 1974. He has extensive industry experience as a Captain, Manager and Owner. From 1977-1984 he served as Manager of Transport / Business Admin for VEBA OEL AG Group (nka EON) and from 1984-2001 he was Managing Director at Krohn Shipping Group in Vienna.

Capt. Koch joined Oestereichischer Lloyd as a Partner in 1991 and became Chairman
and CEO in 2001. He is member of the Board o f Cyprus Union of Shipowners and a Member of the Advisory Board of CCS Mediterranean as well as the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Cyprus Maritime Academy, Vice President of the Cyprus Germany Business Association and President of Cyprus Marine Club.

  • Capt. Koch what is the Cyprus Marine Club (CMC) and explain us its Motto.

The Cyprus Marine Club is a non-profit organisation that embraces and encourages a plethora of maritime industry stakeholders for friendly membership. Shipowners, Shipmanagers, Crew Managers, Service Providers & Suppliers, Agents, Terminal Operators, Legal and Financial and more, come together with a focused effort to promote and celebrate the Cyprus maritime industry and share experiences. @Fellowship of the Seas@ – the motto of CMC speaks for itself.  We salute our membership and encourage continued efforts in fostering commerce, safe and reliable trade, connectivity with members and the community to serve and ensure a focus on advancing the industry throughout our activities on a national and international basis.

Cyprus Marine Club is open to all companies and individuals from shipping industry but also welcomes professionals from other sectors who can mutually enjoy benefits of partnership with the Club.

  • CMC has undergone a series of transformations since its establishment. Tell us about its history.

 17 years after establishment, In 2016 Minister of Transport, Communications & Works, Mr. M. Demetriades, at the Opening of Limassol hosting venue recognising the Cyprus Marine Club as a shipping entity forming part of the Cyprus Maritime Cluster. One year later, Cyprus Marine Club’s Presidency was handed over to myself with 35 members  and I have been proudly holding the function ever since.  Epsilon is home of CMC since 2017 as well.

At the present moment, CMC consists of 129 members and since 2017 has been steadily expanding, improving and steaming ahead.

Our second motto “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is a success.”

  • What is your overall assessment of the future of Cyprus shipping? Is it prosperous industry and what can be improved for positive progression?

Let’s face it, shipping was, is and will always be indispensable to the world considering 90% of the world’s trade is proudly carried by ship. 

Cyprus Shipping is a sea of opportunities. We have a wonderful infrastructure and our industry is one of the core pillars of the economy.  More and more shipping companies trust Cyprus as the base of operations and the progress made thus far with the country’s economic recovery is amazing and should be considered as highly attractive in terms of verifying the country’s determination and solidarity to succeed.  Cyprus Flag, third in the Europe and 11th in the World, and Cyprus is one of the biggest ship management centres in the world. The relationship and trust between the private and public sector is strong and can thus only continue with positive progression. The excellent services Cyprus offers the best prospects for continuous growth and development to companies choosing the country as its business destination platform of excellence.

One should also remember the beauty of one of the most competitive tonnage taxes for shipping companies in the EU and double tax treaties with almost 60 countries to mention only a few advantages. 

  • Would you encourage others in the international maritime sector to follow your example and establish operations on the island?

Yes- Without second of hesitation.
The Cyprus flag is a top-quality sovereign flag which duly adheres to all safety and security standards deriving from the Paris and Tokyo MoUs and is in the “White List” of both MoUs. More than 150 dedicated maritime specialists at the Shipping Deputy Ministry offer tailored, excellent 24/7/ 365  service from our offices in 7 different countries.

Cyprus is amongst the countries having a prominent role in forming global shipping policies with a strong presence and a powerful voice in all maritime fora and international organizations such as the IMO, the ILO and the European Union. Excellent possibility to hire well educated and loyal staff.

And the cherry on the top: climate, beauty and safety of the island- “ The Shipping Star of Mediterranean!”

  • Is there anything else about CMC that you feel requires greater emphasis?

As a Non Profit Organization, It is thanks to invaluable help and support of  sponsors and membership fees, that we may grow and  provide the best quality of networking possibilities   Our second motto “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is a success.”

All that would not be possible without people who MAKE the Club. Huge thank you to all of them.

  • What opportunities for CMC do you see for the future?

Expansion/ Possible cooperation  with other  international Clubs and the great dream to have our own home where we could facilitate all our events in cooperation with our present caterer. A place which would give our members to the right atmosphere for business and leisure meetings at the same time.

  • Do you consider the Shipping industry to be more challenging for women?

The facts speak for themselves – yes, the shipping sector, has traditionally been male-dominated until a recent past , but it is changing for much better. It is being  acknowledged that females have become valuable members of the ship’s crew as equally important in management positions ashore within our industry. We see women at the top of shipping companies, service providers and associations and actually Cyprus is a very good example that career opportunities for women have been improving. We have female Captains, officers and students at Cyprus Maritime Academy. For our industry to flourish, women are needed.  I have the honour of not only knowing but considering many female friends, colleagues and associates in Cyprus and abroad who either have their own businesses, run companies at the top or hold senior management positions as friends – each of whom are highly talented and lets’ not  forget that  their jobs/their careers are only one of the many roles they play and their multitasking ability, for me is just amazing.

Succession planning  in Greece shipping involves women as a matter of course.  Daughters push on as Greek shipping moves along with a changing world. Back to Cyprus, since last week we enjoy parliament’s first female speaker. Being only 35 year old, she is a great victory for women.

  • Do you have a Mentor, a person who has inspired and motivated you through your career?

Yes, I do. A German/ Austrian  entrepreneur/shipowner who entrusted me with the CEO position in the age of 33 to run a fleet of over 30 vessels. The final motivation  received from him was the offer for a management buy out. Great businessman and shipping figure.

  • If you had a boss how do you think would she or he would describe you?

Extremely well organized, and punctual workaholic /A confident, sometimes   strong -tempered, devotee with  very good leadership skills/ Man made of steel (strongly opinionated)  but gentlemen in and out with a great sense of humour.

 A boss woman might would have said I may be very sensitive and sometimes act under emotions.  

But I believe they would give me a promotion at one point of time and good references:)

  • How would your employees describe you in three adjectives?

That depends of course on which employee is asked the question but according to my source they all would  say:-

determined in achieving goals / ambitious/accountable/courageous/ romantic. I know, it’s more than three but hope can be accepted.

  • For what do you value Cyprus the most ?

Climate, Sea, Limassol being a real international Shipping centre, multicultural centre , smart and beautiful women.

  • What makes you excited about Mondays?

Being back to exciting work, back to my great team ashore and on board.

  • What makes you excited about Fridays?

That Monday is only two days away😊

  • Why are you working in this industry?

Because I love it and it is my calling. Could not be otherwise.

  • Have there been any days in your life that you did not think about your job?

No

  • When and where did you decide to become a Captain? Any family connections?

Growing up in the port city Bremen, my father was  the Technical Director of a small shipyard in Bremen in the fifties and early sixties. I joined some launchings of new buildings and shipping was certainly on the table at home.

In the age of 5  on the the bridge of the  ferry between Glückstadt and Wischhafen to cross the Elbe river, I announced my strong will to become one day a Captain and the owner of a 599 GT coaster.

I never deviated from  this course, became one of the youngest Captains in Germany, shortly after joined an oil company in Germany to become the Manager Transport for 13 crude oil tankers.

After two lay -up periods due to the oil crisis I asked the board to be released from my duties and decided to look towards the Far East, when I had a stop over in Vienna, where Österreichischer Lloyd Shipping Group was looking for a second MD in 1984.

In 1987 I bought my first second hand coaster with 3800 tdw. In 2008 I became the sole shareholder of the shore based OL Shipping Group organization.

  • True or False – Behind every man there is a strong woman?

True

  • Did you go through training/ university or straight to work?

9 months training as officer apprentice / 6 semester Master Mariner Nautical Science Studies

  • Who would you be today if you had not chosen shipping?

No idea really and I am entirely grateful that I could facilitate career in that industry.

This is what I wanted to do since I was a young boy (see picture). I am passionate  and I feel ambassador of shipping.

How do you relax and let the everyday stress go away?

Spending time with my wife at beautiful beaches of Protaras and Pissouri/travelling/watching football/ F1/ networking at CMC events. Good discussions/ reading press/ watching tv news.

  • When and where are you the happiest?

see above😊 and adding my office.

  • What would you change in shipping if you could?

I would immediately start with slow steaming. It is the initiative  which would reduce emissions from the global trading fleet almost overnight and without any investment. It would be good for the environment and brings efficiency to global trade. I fail to understand why this has not been implemented. Furthermore, I would like to build up so much needed – strong shipping lobby.

  • Is politics important to you?

Yes, very much. Politics frames our daily life.

  • Name 5 people – dead or alive – whom you would like to invite for dinner

1.Kamala Harris -US Vice President/2. Vladimir Putin – President of Russia/3. Helmut  Schmidt – ex Chancellor  of Germany from 1974 to 1982/4.Giorgos Vasou Vasiliou – Ex  President of Cyprus/ 5. Aristotle Socrates Onassis– Greek Shipping Magnate who amassed the world’s largest privately -owned shipping fleet.

  • What keeps you awake at night?

Planning/making decisions regarding my business/ thinking about  the next container and bulk market trends and how we can capitalise on them to bring more value to our shareholders.

  • What is your favourite song?

 “My way” by Frank Sinatra.

“I’ ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more
I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do…(..)

Let the record shows I took all the blows and did it my way(…)”