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Celebrating the The International Day for Women in Maritime

Welcome back to Nor-Shipping’s An Industry for All series, where we shine a spotlight on the talented individuals helping steer shipping to a more diverse, inclusive and sustainable future.

With today being The International Day for Women in Maritime it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase the achievements of Cristina Aleixandri, COO and co-founder of Spanish-headquartered bound4blue, and the recipient of the Nor-Shipping Young Entrepreneur Award 2023.

Cristina and her team are leading the charge to bring wind power back to shipping with their breakthrough eSAIL® technology. The unique ‘suction sails’, which can be fitted to both newbuilds and existing vessels, across a diverse range of sizes and segments, work by dragging air across an aerodynamic surface to generate exceptional propulsive efficiency. In doing so they drastically reduce main engine loads, OPEX, fuel consumption and emissions.

Cristina sees them as a proven, available, and effective solution in shipping’s urgent decarbonization voyage. And, with orders from companies including Odfjell, Eastern Pacific Shipping, and Louis Dreyfus Company, the industry clearly agrees.

What is your current role and how long have you had it?

I’ve been COO at bound4blue for almost 10 years. However, moving forward, my focus will be more on the strategic direction of the company and accelerating growth.

How did you get involved in the maritime industry?

It wasn’t exactly part of the plan. Growing up in Barcelona, shipping wasn’t something I saw myself diving into. I ended up studying aeronautical engineering, where I met my two co-founders – José Miguel and David. 

We saw the scale of the challenge looming in shipping: cutting carbon emissions without affecting profits. We saw the potential of bringing sails back to ships, but with a modern twist, whereby they’re more similar to the airplane wings we’d been studying for so many years.

At the end of the day, we are engineers, so we love to solve problems regardless of where they’re coming from. That’s how we ended up starting bound4blue. And here we are, still riding the waves!

Why do you believe people should consider a future within the maritime industry? 

Shipping drives the world, connecting markets and sustaining economies worldwide. This is what captivates me about the industry: its global impact and the opportunity to work in a diverse environment. Interacting with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and expertise has broadened my perspectives and helped me develop personally.

Cristina Aleixendri Munoz wins Nor-Shipping 2023’s Young Entrepreneur Award

Moreover, the maritime industry offers a professional journey filled with possibilities for innovation and positive change. As concerns about climate change escalate, the industry is not immune to this problem and is increasingly taking actions towards its decarbonisation. This shift opens up exciting opportunities to develop innovative solutions that can transform how shipping works.

In essence, the maritime industry offers a dynamic, fast-paced, and rewarding career path for those who are drawn to its global impact, diverse opportunities, and the thrill of overcoming today’s challenges. Who wouldn’t want to be part of such a vibrant and impactful industry?

What key lessons have you learned during your time in the industry, or what advice would you give to others?

If there’s one piece of advice I’d offer to newcomers in the shipping industry – or any sector, really – it’s this: be yourself. This is particularly emphasized in shipping, where it’s all about people. 

In the early stages of your career, it’s tempting to mould yourself to fit certain expectations or emulate others you see around you. But here’s the thing: authenticity pays off.

Showing your true colours and staying genuine not only opens doors to opportunities but also connects you with like-minded individuals. Whether you’re dealing with clients, colleagues, or partners, authenticity builds trust and lays the groundwork for lasting partnerships.

What do you think are the industry’s key strengths and weaknesses – how would you like to see it evolve? 

When looking at the shipping industry’s strengths and weaknesses, there’s a lot to consider in terms of where it’s thriving and where it could use some improvement. On the positive side, the industry feels like a tight-knit global community, almost like a family, and its role in the world economy is undeniable. However, there are some areas where it’s lagging. For instance, it struggles to attract talent from other industries quickly enough, and there’s a noticeable lack of diversity in top management positions. Also, the industry tends to stick to what’s tried and tested, which can make it slow to adapt to new ideas and opportunities. Moving forward, it would be great to see more efforts to bring in fresh perspectives and embrace innovation to keep up with the rapidly changing demands of the global market.

What do you like best about your current role?

Having an impact, seeing the results of my actions and my work. Meeting new people around the world, expanding the way I see and understand the world, and thus how I approach the problems. Diversity brings you precisely this, and we need a lot of it to solve the challenges that our industry is facing in terms of decarbonisation – from technology development to its implementation, and even the regulations. 

What are your professional ambitions for the next five to ten years?

Making sails a standard way of supporting the industry on its path towards decarbonisation. 

Any other comments for our readers?

While wind propulsion alone may not be able to fully decarbonize the entire industry, it definitely stands out as a viable solution capable of delivering significant fuel savings in double digits today. Instead of only relying on alternative fuels, which still face challenges in availability and affordability at all ports, let’s explore a balanced approach. By harnessing the power of wind propulsion alongside advancements in alternative fuels, we can chart a more sustainable course for the maritime sector.

Nor-Shipping wants to help support greater participation in shipping, creating the fair, welcoming, and thriving industry we can all benefit from.

If you know of any talented individuals that are making a name for themselves in the industry – showcasing ambition, diversity and inclusion – please do get in touch (Glenn Løvberg, Head of Communication & Marketing, gl@nor-shipping.com) and nominate them for An Industry for All.

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