Tell us a little more about yourself.
Starting out in a new country with new surroundings, new faces and a completely new language can be overwhelming. That was me at the age of eight when my parents decided to leave Iran during the war and relocate to Australia in pursuit of a safer place to raise their children. We arrived on the shores of Sydney’s notorious Kings Cross in the early hours of the morning in November 1986. My parents, unfamiliar with Australia, and knowing little English, thought Kings Cross was fantastic. Shops were open 24/7; so it must be safe they reasoned and in writing to family back home, would comment on how lively our new neighbourhood was! They both worked in IT (this is going as far back as mainframe computers) but I missed out on those genes and it all went to my younger brother who now also works in IT. I was more interested in the versatility and practical learnings of a business degree at University of Technology, Sydney completing a major in finance and accounting. There I met my future wife. We now have two beautiful kids aged nine and eight.
I have been working at Swire Shipping for over 16 years and have had the opportunity of working in different roles, all of which have given me a depth of knowledge and insight into the different regions we conduct our business. I pride myself in being a long-serving member of the Swire Group while throughout this time seeking new challenges through different roles. All these has set me up with the competencies and skill sets to be prepared for my new position.
I have now moved with my family to Singapore and a little case of history repeating with my two young children starting over in a new country.
What made you join the shipping industry? How have things changed since the time you joined?
I did not know much about the shipping industry prior to 2002 and joined the industry quite serendipitously after leaving my first professional job in an accounting firm. I had quickly realised while there that I would find it more fulfilling if I was working within an organisation in an analytical role, shaping and helping future decisions to make that organisation more profitable. Consequently, I landed on the doorsteps of Swire House for a job interview within the finance team. Today I know a little bit more about the industry and have relished the journey and the learnings along the way. Shipping has a rich history with some interesting characters and fascinating stories.
In terms of change, the industry has become more corporatised with a greater scale of corporate governance, as shipping companies have become larger. At Swire Shipping itself we have evolved from what was once a small-scale family business to a significant and sizeable investment in tonnage with the launch of Swire Bulk. For Swire Shipping we are also stepping into the digital age which will heavily influence the next era for the industry as successful supply chains become focused on speed of service delivery.
What has surprised (or shocked…!) you about Singapore?
I’m being brutally honest here, and this is certainly going to reveal the eco warrior side of me... This has to be the unnecessary and inordinate amount of plastic bags that are used! Even my children have commented on the excessive use of plastic bags at supermarkets and food venues. For instance, during our first grocery run, we mentioned that we did not need any plastic bags. The well-meaning assistant however did not hear us and even double-bagged our groceries for extra protection! I really hope that government initiatives are able to successfully tackle this issue in the near future.