Captain Philip Bacon FICS tells us what is the best part of being part of ICS

Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Getting to know… Captain Philip Bacon FICS



"The qualities of life and work don't come our way for free; they exact considerable personal cost, and the principle of sowing and reaping comes into play - we need to keep planting and tending, some things flourish, others die."

Ahead of the ICS Chartering Workshop taking place on the first day of the Breakbulk Europe event(Tuesday, 17 May 2022), we are catching up with the knowledgeablePhilip Bacon FICS who will deliver the much-anticipated workshop in Rotterdam.

What is your current job/role? Is every day the same?

I am Vice-President for commercial operations at Siem Shipping, which is an owner and operator of a fleet of multiple ship types - from state-of-the-art large LNG-fuelled Pure Car and Truck Carriers shipping the VW 'stable' to Canada, US and Mexico (VW, Bentley, Lamborghinis, etc) through Ro-Ros (heavy machinery from China to Europe and North America, tonnage provider to European ferry operators) through to Reefers (bananas, fruit and frozen fish) and operating some Handies. We have in-house shipmanagement, and the parent group is equally broad from subsea to renewables and finance, so the short version is - no, there are definitely not two days the same!

What excites you about this work?

Variety and opportunity are two keywords I'd use to synthesize what I enjoy about my last 40 years - because I started practicing for it at 15 years of age. I was driving a ship by the time I was 20, enjoyed it a lot, and felt very professionally fulfilled. I could have just settled down and I don't find fault with anyone who does, but some people want to keep walking steadily towards a new target. Shipping, in its general sense, is a broad enough universe for those that want to keep expanding learning and practice from early years through to retirement!

How does what you do fit into the overall shipping landscape?

Today I have a broader remit, but I came ashore to the more specific role of commercial operations. This is a key function for any organisation which effectively controls any asset - in our case, a ship, but it could be an FPSO, a port terminal, or an FSRU. In short, it is a function that, on a timeline, sits later than the signing of a contract or charterparty and earlier than accounting (or sometimes legal, claims). Chartering or commercial functions conclude a deal, they hand it over to commercial operations, who need to do absolutely everything necessary to a. deliver what has been promised at the same time as b. collect all the revenue related to the deal and c. pay all the costs related to it and d. make sure all the loose ends are tied off e.g. who picked up the cargo was entitled to it, that accounts have all they need to pick up the Receivables and Payables and do their bookkeeping and make their provisions. It is very much the hub of an operative organisation.

How has the ICS experience helped you to get where you are today?

Coming from the sea, I had only seen the end-products of the commercial world: a concluded charterparty, drawn-up Bills of Lading and so forth. What exactly were the interests at play, what happened before and after the carriage of the cargo were all a bit of a mystery. This is where formal study of the Chartering side at the ICS was so helpful in filling in some considerable blanks in my knowledge and positioning a few pieces of the jigsaw which I had not managed to quite place when looking from shipside!

Having worked ashore alongside colleagues from many different pathways over the last 25 years, I realise that for everyone it is a similar experience. This is where the panoramic of an ICS module or pathway is helpful whether someone has been in Shipping for a long time like I had, or if they are moving in from another pathway.

What piece of advice would you give to those thinking about studying with the ICS? What's the best thing about being part of ICS?

If you have any experience, choose your first modules to match that experience because there is the strength of mature study - building over what we have already experienced. The other aspect of mature study (the expression means, learning after leaving schooling, rather than being old!) is that you learn A LOT from your colleagues rather than just from the programme; and that is the best part of being part of ICS. Even meeting up with other shipping people at socials, we absorb knowledge from beyond the borders of our own work or study.

What is the best thing about the shipping/maritime industry, in your opinion?

It is about the breadth of the industry, the number of different roles within it, and a large degree of transferability between the sectors and segments within the sectors. Maritime touches on hundreds of different industries and services across the whole globe, and even the same type of service can take on many distinct aspects depending on the particular setting.

What workshop are you running at Breakbulk Europe 2022?

TheBreakbulk Chartering workshop is going to open a one-day window into the commercial world behind Breakbulk. This is the carriage of things too large or heavy for a container but the wrong shape, size, weight or quantity to carry efficiently or safely in a conventional bulker.So we'll identify the main examples of those cargoes, and how their carriage gets contracted and executed. Anyone who has an interest in the logistics of these cargoes, or that works in one segment of a breakbulk supply chain and would like an overview, will find this workshop an essential "panoramic" of the A to B transportation by sea of breakbulk cargoes!

Last words…

If you want to keep learning throughout your professional career, shipping is one of the big broad fields in which one doesn't run out of opportunities, and the ICS has some very useful maps and networks by which to navigate!


Register for the ICS Chartering Workshop at the upcoming Breakbulk Europe event or view the full workshop agenda here: https://europe.breakbulk.com/page/chartering-workshop

If you are inspired by Philip and would like to embark on a shipping study programme with the Institute, don't hesitateto contact us today: T +44 (0)20 7357 9722 | E education@ics.org.uk | W www.ics.org.uk