Lifetime Achievement Award For Harry Theochari

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  • Harry Theochari is the former global head of transport at Norton Rose Fulbright and now senior consultant to the firm.
  • He is also current Chair of Maritime London, Chair Emeritus of the Maritime Industries of the United Kingdom and Chair of the Belfast Maritime Consortium.
  • Mr Theochari will be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tanker Shipping & Trade Conference, Awards & Exhibition 2022 in November in Athens.
  • The industry leader award recognises an individual who sets and achieves new industry standards and exemplifies best management practices.

A recent news article published in the Riviera talks about Lessons from a life in shipping: Harry Theochari, Maritime London.

A short talk with Harry Theochari

How did you enter shipping?

I was given the choice by my father of being an accountant, lawyer or doctor. As my maths is abysmal and I cannot stand the sight of blood, lawyer it was. On qualification and purely by chance, I saw an advert for a shipping finance lawyer, with Greek language skills preferred, for Norton Rose Botterell & Roche (as it then was). Possibly the most fortunate moment in my professional career.

Who are your heroes?

Smokin’ Joe Frazier, the heavyweight boxer. Always gracious and humble in victory, honourable and philosophical in defeat. A very generous man with an unbreakable spirit.

What has been your best moment in shipping so far?

I suppose being elected Chair of the Maritime Industries of the United Kingdom by my peers. It was a great honour to lead MUK and to have the opportunity of working so closely with government to push the industry forward at this pivotal time.

What has been your worst moment in shipping so far?

Completing the delivery of a vessel in Brazil from Greek to Indian interests, discovering the vessel was listing and that the class surveyor, who had just issued a clean classification certificate, had disappeared.

What has been your funniest moment in shipping?

Client confidentiality prevents me from repeating most of these. In the 1990s a particular bank, which had never used us before, suffered a number of financial scandals instigated by a senior officer. I was invited for lunch with their senior directors, none of whom I had previously met. On entering the room, I was advised that I was useless, incompetent and uncommercial, and would never work for that bank again. After some initial confusion, I explained who I was. The director looked very embarrassed and apologised, before asking for the other firm to be brought in.

Who have you learned the most from?

I joined the firm when possibly the three finest ship finance lawyers in the world were heading the team. My boss, Donald Freeland had the best client bedside manner, Jeremy Lansdell was probably the finest technical lawyer of his time and Douglas Hamilton was simply the doyen of ship finance lawyers worldwide.

What is your guilty pleasure?

As I have grown older and wider (I do mean wider and not wiser), my guilty pleasures have changed a little. I enjoy eating, smoking cigars and drinking whisky.

Do you have a favourite meal?

If I tell you that two of my favourite restaurants in the world are Smith & Wollensky and Sparks in New York, you will be able to guess that I am a great lover of US prime beef.

Where is your favourite location?

I am very blessed to actually live at my favourite location, my small farm in Hertfordshire. I love digging holes, shovelling muck, pruning plants (whether they need it or not) and riding about on my little tractor, indulging my guilty pleasures. I am assured that you cannot be found guilty of being drunk in charge of a tractor on your own property.

What is your one regret in shipping?

Most of my career has been at a time when shipping has remained relatively unchanged. My great regret is that I will not be around to see the pivotal changes that will be taking place as a result of decarbonisation and the advent of new and disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence and autonomous shipping.

What would be your advice to a young person starting out in shipping?

This is a conversation I have had with my own children, one of whom is a transport finance lawyer. The advice is very simple, be prepared to work very hard, understand there will be many sacrifices to family life and be ready for the great changes that are inevitably coming. If you are prepared to face these challenges, being a shipping finance lawyer is a hugely interesting and very rewarding career.

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Source: Riviera

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