Dear YoungShippers, (if you are not yet a YoungShipper, by the end of this you’ll definitely want to be)

When Nicholas reached out to me to share my journey with YoungShip Cyprus, the answer was without doubt a big Yes! YoungShip – as has WISTA – have been such an important part of who I am today, professionally and personally and at every given opportunity I want to share the message.

By means of introduction, I am Gina Panayiotou a maritime lawyer and ESG strategist with an MBA focused on change management and ethical leadership, have held senior roles mainly within shipowning organisations and founded my consultancy firm Oceans Arena in the UK, aimed at supporting industry stakeholders with practical ESG strategies, covering the whole scope of formulation to brand positioning.

Currently, based in London I am the ESG Manager at West of England P&I Club, responsible for leading its’ Environmental, Social and Governance Strategy, representing the Club at the International Group (IG) Sustainability Committee and heading the its’ global ESG working group. I have also acted as a Communications Consultant of the IMO-UNEP-Norway Innovation Forum and I am the UK Chair of the G100 Network Sustainable Brand Creation & Marketing; the Secretary of WISTA UK and Co-Chair the WISTA International Environmental Committee; UK Ambassador of the Seatrade Maritime Club, support the World Ocean Council as an associate on Law & Ocean Sustainable Development and an Associate Tutor at the University of Plymouth’s MLA College.

So what does this have to do with YoungShip? When I joined the industry in 2014 it was a taunting experience; for one I was a female in a male-dominated industry and secondly I was “too young” to be a Manager and in all honesty, as much as shipping was “love at first sight,” I was not sure if there was a place for me in it. Up until I was introduced to an association called WISTA (Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association) and a few weeks later coming out a Cyprus Shipping Chamber meeting Sotiris and Philippos (at the time President and Vice-President of YoungShip Cyprus) who convinced me that joining YoungShip was a must.

Turns out they were right. YoungShip Cyprus has gifted me with so many beautiful moments. A supporter to my radio show “It’s ALL about Shipping” (now Oceans Arena Stage) showcasing young shining stars as well as key industry role models, a part-sponsored MBA at the Cyprus Institute of Marketing, a fantastic experience to act as Project Manager of “ShipCon 2018” and being the recipient of the first Young Leader Award by WISTA and YoungShip Cyprus. All of which have played such an important part in setting the foundations to where I stand today. Beyond that, YoungShip Cyprus and YoungShip UAE, the later of which I had the pleasure of being a Board member and Advisor to, have gifted me with invaluable friendships, inspiration from like-minder individuals and some very few special mentors who left me with no other option than to pursue whole-heartedly what sets my soul on fire and never settle for less. Additionally, YoungShip has allowed me to also be a mentor and empower the youth of maritime, a matter close to my heart.

Having been featured among other things as a “Top Maritime Influencers you should follow” by Marine Traffic, shortlisted for the Inspirational Influencer Awards in the Global Impact category for my work on youth and female empowerment and been featured in the Top 100 Women in Shipping list for 4 consecutive years, I am so grateful to YoungShip for “fuelling” me with the only guaranteed fuel of the future, youth empowerment.

Thank you YoungShip, you will always hold a special place in my heart.