Meet Edward Buttery FICS: "Proof that persistence pays off"

Posted on Friday, July 7, 2023

Edward Buttery FICS

Edward Buttery FICS has taken quite an adventurous route to get where he is today - founder and CEO of Taylor Maritime Investments as well as CEO of drybulk carrier Grindrod Shipping. He started on his career path conventionally enough, undertaking an undergraduate degree at Oxford University, before realising this was not the direction he wanted to take.

Self-taught shipping

"I didn't stay at university, so I went into shipping. So, I embarked upon a 10-year self-teaching regime. I wanted to know about chartering, setting up new companies, shipbuilding, banking and finance."

His first stop was at the Tanker desk at Clarksons, which led to his ultimately taking on a role on the Supramax desk, where he enjoyed a year learning about shipbroking. After that, he spent a year at Pacific Basin, where his father, Chris, is Co-founder, Chairman and CEO.

"I became Chartering Manager for the Atlantic Fleet. I did this for a year and a half, and then Asia Maritime Pacific (AMP) was founded. There was a lot happening there, they were ordering ships, taking delivery of new ships and setting up offices. I went in as Deputy COOand opened the Shanghai office. Here, I learned more about ordering ships, working with Chinese shipyards and about technical management. It was a very interesting time for me."

Persistence pays off

There were, however, other aspects of the industry he wanted to discover as part of his self-teaching regime.

"I wanted to go into banking to learn about ship finance. I applied to Cass Business School, now known as Bayes Business School, but I didn't have the degree required to get in. I was persistent though - I sent them an email once a week and called them once a week. Eventually they called me - I think they just wanted me to stop," he says with a smile, "They told me, if you do well in your ICS exams, we'll let you in. So, I studied very hard and got my place at Cass - thanks to ICS."

"I had a good time during my studies for my ICS exams. What I particularly enjoyed was the prep week - the Institute should look at reintroducing that. This gave me a good opportunity to meet people in the industry. Some of the people I met at that time are still friends now. I had an amazing time at Cass too, where I also made some lifelong friends in shipping and graduated with Merit."

This was what Edward needed to get the role in finance he was looking for; following his education at Cass he took up a role as Assistant Relationship Manager at the Nordea Bank in Singapore.

"I was there for three years, and I learned how credit committees work, how credit memos work and, with Nordea being such a huge company, how a large corporate works."

Milestone maritime moment

After that, the market started dropping. Seeing the writing on the wall, Edward decided to leave finance. This marked a turning point in his career; it was then that he founded Taylor Maritime.

"I wrote a business plan, and I had a partner, a shipowner from Japan. But he had to go back home and work for his family business, so there I was with just a plan - no business, no money. From 2013 to September 2014, I was busy rewriting the plan and raising the money I needed."

Dreaming big

His hard work paid off - he was soon able to purchase his first ship - the Caribbean Frontier - with the help of institutional investors and family offices, followed by four more.

"My dream was to have ten. I raised some more money and soon we reached that target. I doubled down and raised more money. Eventually we reached a peak of 51 ships."

At this stage, Edward decided to list some of the vessels on the stock market, figuring that, with a debt free business, he could be secure in his ability to pay a dividend to shareholders - what followed was the listing of 32 vessels from his fleet.

"In our first year we returned 83% of the net asset value to our shareholders. At this stage I thought, 'let's buy a shipping company', so I bought Grindrod. I love shipping. Do you know what it is I love about it? There are opportunities everywhere if you're prepared to take a risk - a calculated risk, of course."

The tools to do the job well

Despite the positive outlook, Edward accepts that it's not always easy, especially having gone public.

"You've got to run a fleet, understand the finance, be a HR manager, be a politician, partially… but the tools I have gained from ICS - and from Cass and Nordea, which were facilitated by ICS - I use these tools all day, every day, seven days a week. I'm very grateful to ICS, I wouldn't be where I am without them."

Today, Edward says, he continues to benefit from his ICS membership as a senior manager within the industry.

Edward Buttery FICS ship visit

"I think there are a lot of benefits associated with ICS membership. For people taking up positions in other parts of the world, their access to a network of like-minded people can be very helpful. For me, today, my membership primarily offers me a long-term benefit. Our industry needs bright people. Through the ICS I get to meet students who, like me, are passionate about shipping. I'm always very keen to encourage people to come into our industry. I take my children onboard with me any chance I get!"