Dr. Kirsi Tikka has joined Foreship’s Board of Directors, in a move reflecting the company’s drive for continued growth and diversification, its intensified commitment to sustainable shipping, and its dedication to attracting the right people to help fulfil its ambitions.
Kirsi, who was appointed as a non-executive board member at Foreship’s shareholders meeting in March, is well-known across the maritime industries, with her appearance as a speaker at the IMarEst 2023 Annual Dinner in London in March just the latest example. Her maritime career has included roles with Chevron Shipping in San Francisco and Wärtsilä Shipyards in Finland. However, she is perhaps best known as an executive at ABS, most recently as EVP, Senior Maritime Advisor responsible for aligning strategic planning, client development, and product and service offerings with the industry’s technical needs and requirements.
The first part of 2023 has seen an acceleration in Foreship’s cruise ship refit business, with newbuild projects also restarting and workload now approaching pre-pandemic levels. Kirsi’s appointment reflects renewed ambitions to extend its reputation for excellence as naval architects, marine engineers, project managers and consultants into additional markets, in line with plans outlined on its acquisition by Vaaka Partners in 2019.
One key to that reputation has been Foreship’s leadership in designing for sustainable cruise shipping, whether based on advanced hydrodynamics, on evaluating, installing or optimising low and zero emission power alternatives, or on offering the consultancy owners need to make informed choices. In her advisory role, Kirsi brings a wealth of comparable insights and experience of the sustainability issues facing owners in commercial shipping to the Foreship table.
Having been a driving force in establishing the ABS Sustainability Program, for example, Dr. Tikka was recently appointed to chair Ardmore Shipping’s Sustainability Committee. Her outlook was also summed up in the title of her IMarEst keynote address last month: ‘Engineering for a better Maritime World’.
“Maritime regulations and their relationship with new technologies, fuels and power sources are having a huge impact on our industry,” she says. “Customers seek guidance on ROI that is based on experience, innovation and technical expertise, but also on an understanding of the regulatory landscape. Owners need to know that their pain points have been considered, and that the assets they are investing in are not at risk of becoming stranded assets.
“A large section of the commercial fleet is already taking advantage of technologies available to improve both the technical and operational efficiency. We need the first movers who pilot and implement solutions, but it is equally important that the rest of the world fleet makes incremental improvements.”
Decarbonization is not only about technology, but challenges business models, contractual arrangements, legal and regulatory framework, working conditions and required skills, Kirsi adds. “I look forward to being part of the strategic discussions at Foreship that are necessary for any engineering company today engaged in serving market needs for greater decarbonisation and sustainability.”
Dr. Tikka spent five years of her career as a professor of Naval Architecture at the Webb Institute in New York, where she was also awarded an honorary doctorate in 2018. She has also carried out extensive research on tanker structural strength and risk analysis, as well as being actively involved in the U.S. National Research Council Marine Board studies on double hull tankers.
Understandably, she sees attracting the right talent, and its cultivation, as another area where her knowledge and experience can be of great use to Foreship. “Foreship prides itself on the way it takes care of its people, and I am looking forward to learning more about how they do it and offering any suggestions for improvement, if relevant,” she says.
“I’ll also continue to emphasise that young marine engineers entering the workforce will be designing, building, and operating ships, systems and equipment that meet a new set of sustainability criteria. This requires a creative and innovative mind set and, alongside a solid understanding of engineering and scientific principles, keeping sustainability firmly at the forefront of their thinking. Today, that’s part of the academic curriculum and professional training, but it’s also imperative that it remains central to the companies next generation engineers join.”