Recently appointed to Regional Head of Sales for Northern Europe and the Americas, Kirstie Williams has gone from strength to strength since joining GTMaritime eight years ago.
Kirstie joined the company as a sales and service coordinator back in 2011, enticed by the unknown and bringing a healthy curiosity to find out more about a sector which, despite spanning the globe, remains mostly invisible to outsiders.
Building on what was initially a junior role, she drew on substantial direct contact with end-customers and resellers to accumulate knowledge of and insights how the shipping industry functions and its struggles with cyber-security.
“Working so closely with our partners and customers allowed me to gain first-hand experience of how GTMaritime’s solutions are used in the field. Nearly every day I discovered something new. It’s a remarkable industry. You never stop learning.”
The learning curve was steep and the fascination with the sector proved enduring, but these are not the only reasons Kirstie has remained at GTMaritime. “It’s a fantastic company to work for. I think the fact that when people join, they stay speaks volumes. We have a low attrition rate, which means you get to know your colleagues and build a strong rapport. I know it sounds like a cliché but it feels like an extended family.”
In 2015 Kirstie was appointed Sales Operations Manager, allowing her to become more involved in managing customer projects including the planning and coordination, initial user acceptance testing including white labelling and full-scale implementation of GTMaritime solutions, alongside improving other internal processes.
She adds that working for a relatively small organisation has other benefits: “You are not lost in a corporate hierarchy, so there’s opportunity for sharing ideas between departments and playing an active role in development forums. It also means there’s always room to grow and expand your horizons.”
This October Kirstie was promoted to Regional Head of Sales for Northern Europe and the Americas, looking after global accounts and supporting sales initiatives. Her new role brings a strategic dimension to her work.
The maritime industry is keen to embrace digitalisation, says Kirstie, but at the same time it understands that alongside the various commercial and operational advantages of enhanced data exchange between ship and shore comes new risks – not least cyber security. “Shipping companies are exposed in all sorts of ways, but by working closely with operators we can assist in driving positive change and operational efficiencies through our solutions, which will make onboard IT systems run more smoothly and, ultimately,make better use of IT resources.”
Becoming Regional Head of Sales has reaffirmed Kirstie’s belief in the importance of connecting with customers and resellers. “These relationships are vital for establishing the trust that allows you to get under the skin of their requirements and grasp the underlying drivers. For many people the temptation is to solve the immediate problem in front of them. But pausing to reflect on the bigger picture – to consider less obvious factors behind it – often leads to a better, longer-lasting solution or way forward. Knowing that your work makes a difference is a great motivator!”
These insights also help anticipate future needs and steer the direction of GTMaritime’s ongoing programme of continuous development that ensure its software suite delivers the utmost in cybersecurity protection and data management. “In recent times, vessel operators are wiring up onboard machinery and other systems with sensors and we’ve seen email used more and more for sending the resulting data to shore rather than traditional messaging,” explains Kirstie.
“We’re on the verge of introducing a new service, which will offer operators a better way of managing data from multiple sources and transfer them in a multi-stream encrypted environment that is also capable of prioritisation. With no end in sight to the growth of data from ships, this will be a major focus for GTMaritime going forward as we support our customers to ensure the data works for them and their suppliers.”
Kirstie’s time at GTMaritime has also heightened her senses to broader issues affecting the world’s oceans and she has been impressed by the change in mindset driving efforts to leave a cleaner marine environment for future generations. “Dcoumentaries like the ones created by David Atteenborough have really opened up on people’s eyes to the damage plastics and other forms of pollution are doing to the seas and to marine wildlife.”
She believes the need for change has been understood for some time, but what we have witnessed in the last couple of years is a sudden change in levels of engagement. “People are coming together, organising themselves and starting all these fantastic projects and campaigns with the common goal of reducing our impact on the oceans, both as consumers and as companies. That’s really heartening.”