As chairman of OCIMF, Andrew Cassels’ leadership focus was on safety first
Andrew Cassels was presented the Tanker Shipping & Trade Lifetime Achievement Award for his long-standing service to safety guidance during his time at BP Shipping, and during his secondment from BP to OCIMF, where he was director.
His decision to take on a leadership role was never in doubt when he went to sea. “I never considered being anything other than a ship’s officer and as a ship’s officer, every rank has leadership demands. It certainly was not a conscious decision, but the career path I chose demands good leadership skills,” he says.
And the skills he learnt at sea have remained valuable. “Even when I came ashore, if I wanted to progress, I had to constantly show my leadership potential through my behaviours. I guess my leadership skills grew organically; however, my career path was premeditated” he says.
For those keen to advance their career, Mr Cassels says “At sea, I would always learn the duties of the rank above me so that I could step into the role effortlessly. On coming ashore, it was natural to consider potential next roles so that should an opportunity arrive, I was well prepared.”
Throughout his career he has experienced both the best and worst leadership examples. “For much of my career I learned leadership from observing both good and bad leaders in action and seeing the results. It is clear that bad leaders can get the result demanded, but equally clear that good leaders have the team covering their backs. The best results come from team effort led by an honest, trustworthy and respected team leader providing inspiration, vision and direction. Later in my career I was fortunate enough to work for a leader who achieved great results following these principles.”
Mr Cassels aims to minimise distractions to achieve his goals. “I like to work with an organisation that is running smoothly. As boring as that might sound, achieving that is good for staff morale and allows them to focus on delivering their particular roles. From that solid foundation, change can be made more easily. Delegating and empowering the team puts horsepower into an organisation which, in the case of OCIMF, meant we updated or produced the guidance and recommendations that are essential to the smooth operation of the tanker fleet, resulting in the tankers being the safest and cleanest in our shipping industry.”
Since his retirement, he has become chairman of a maritime charity, which has proved an interesting challenge. “This sector is home for about 140 charities, of which around 70 cater for the merchant and fishing subsectors. There is a need to consolidate to reduce duplication, thereby using charitable funds to their most efficient.”
And while mergers are hard to achieve in the charity sector, Mr Cassels has a plan to follow. “Some charities have a dwindling number of beneficiaries and should focus on their core strength rather than expand and risk duplication; these are the areas that need our attention,” he says.