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DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS & AGENCY DIRECTOR (BERNUTH)
Container shipping could lay claim to being the world’s first truly global industry and the one which, more than any other, makes it possible for a truly global economy to work. It connects countries, markets, businesses and people. Chris Maraj, Director of Operations at Alstons Shipping, understands every aspect of this business and he is convinced that his tendency to always volunteer his time for multifarious duties, at any time of the day and night, through Christmas, weekends and public holidays, played a major part in his success.
“Once shipping gets into your blood, the business never leaves you”, says Chris.
At 39 years of age and sixteen years at Alstons, he is still youthful with a passion for shipping. He has enjoyed tremendous career growth, moving through the ranks of Shipping Clerk, to Cargo Supervisor to Operations Manager and was promoted to Director of Operations in 2005.
Chris is responsible for managing the daily operations of Alstons Port Office, the BERNUTH Department, Alston’s San Fernando Office and all new business, marketing, special projects and port operations. He is proud of the longstanding relationships built with global carrier Hapag Lloyd and regional carrier BERNUTH Lines, and describes himself as the custodian of their cargo. Due to sustained team efforts, he appreciates his very professional relationship with Customs and the Port Authority. Together they work towards utilizing ASYCUDA World to streamline the processing systems.
Chris is proud of that feat that Alstons Shipping has never breached any of the bonds under which they operate. He predicts that with improved measures championed by the government and with serious investment, Trinidad & Tobago can become the premier hub of the region.
Chris is committed to excellent service, timely turnaround of vessels, exchange of information, strategic marketing and seeking additional business.
In order to excel in this industry Chris believes in people development, multi-tasking and the ability to delegate and follow-up.
“Our staff at Alstons Shipping must follow due process and application to their duties in an accurate and timely manner – time is money in the shipping industry and vessels do not make money in port,” he states.
Ninety percent of the world’s bulk traded goods are transported by sea, making shipping the lifeblood of the global economy. Advanced technology has made shipping the most fuel-efficient and carbon-friendly form of commercial transport available. With approximately 50,000 merchant ships traversing international trade routes, Chris sums up the freight market in two words: Volatile and Complex.
He expounds, “Ship owners, operators and charterers have to navigate an intricate, multifaceted and inter-dependent freight market and are at the mercy of hundreds of events that can impact the cost of transport and profit margins. Everyday there is piracy which leads to re-routing, congestion in the world’s strategic shipping lanes, seasonal differences and the size of the product. But even these fluctuations provide a more predictable framework of operations compared to demand for commodities, which can change rapidly in response to the ebb and flow of the global economy and industry production in specific countries. The industry demands unprecedented investment in vessels, container, terminals, offices and information technology to manage complex logistics. It is clear that the present day industry is truly global and touches all our lives in ways we cannot imagine”.
Chris loves what he does. He makes it his business to learn and he remembers spending hours with captains taking notes on information related to vessels, stowage, tonnage and stability. Chris now teaches his staff of seventeen the intricacies and value of shipping. He describes them as willing, hard-working and thirsty for knowledge. His team gets involved in charitable works and has assisted the people of Grenada, Haiti and Saint Lucia by moving containers filled with products to them in their time of need.
With such a busy work life including time spent as an Executive on the Shipping Association of Trinidad & Tobago, there is the possibility that the home-front may have borne the brunt of his work commitments. Thankfully, Chris is blessed with a wonderful, tolerant wife and two children. Christmas and Divali are his favourite times of the year, so much so that he takes time to build elaborate bamboo structures with his son and daughter in their yard each year. He is the last of ten siblings and respects the legacy left by his parents.
“I am very proud to be part of ANSA McAL’s dynamic team. The Executives allow you to make your mark and rise to the top even though the Group is large. Some persons may think that their work is in vain and goes unnoticed. Not so.
I am an example of someone who had a humble beginning and through my own sacrifices and volunteerism I continue the climb.”
September 06, 2011