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Interview: Antony DSouza, EVP & Regional Manager, DNV

Antony DSouza
Courtesy World Affairs Council of Greater Houston

Published Jun 6, 2021 1:29 PM by Jack O'Connell

A true global manager, DSouza heads DNV’s fast-growing Maritime Americas operation. He says curiosity and engagement are the keys to success – and to making the world a better place.

Tell us about yourself. Where are you from?

I was born and raised in India where I received my secondary and post-secondary education. In my twenties I migrated to Australia where I did undergraduate work. Later, I pursued a Master of Science degree in the U.S. and completed executive management and leadership education/training in Switzerland, France and the U.S.

Wow, that’s a lot! How did you find your way to the maritime industry?

That happened in the 1990s when I had the opportunity to work at a major shipyard in Singapore building FPSOs, and I’ve stayed in the industry since coming to the U.S. in 1998. I’m actually a mechanical engineer by training and started out in the energy industry.

Okay, tell us about your responsibilities as DNV’s top executive in the Americas.

As EVP and Regional Manager of DNV Maritime, I lead our shipping and offshore-related businesses in the Americas region. That includes business development, customer service management, finance, HR, QHSE, classification and advisory services.

What were some of your previous positions? Have you worked for DNV your entire career?

Prior to joining DNV in 1998, most of my career was in project engineering and management involving mega-projects in the energy and space industries. Since joining DNV I’ve held various senior-level positions including Regional Manager for the Middle East & Indian Subcontinent, Director of Operations for West Africa & the Gulf of Mexico and Director of Newbuilds in Asia Pacific & the Middle East.

How big is the Americas operation within DNV’s Maritime business?

The Americas is one of seven geographic regions in DNV’s Maritime business. We have a robust presence in the Americas with offices in ten countries. Since establishing our first office in New York in 1898, we’ve amassed 123 years of uninterrupted presence and have expanded to serve all market segments in both maritime and energy. We have excellent rapport and relations with all Flag Administrations in the Americas including full authorizations from the USCG.

What are some of the services DNV provides to the U.S. maritime industry?

As the world’s leading classification society and a recognized advisor to the maritime industry, we provide a broad spectrum of services to the shipping and offshore industries in both the U.S. and the Americas, not just with our local presence but also through our global network of subject matter experts.

Our classification services for ships and offshore assets include plan approval, site surveys at newbuilding yards, certification of materials and components, approval of service suppliers, fleet-in-service surveys and audits. Through our advisory units, we provide technical, risk and marine advisory services including noise and vibration, mechanical systems, environmental performance, energy efficiency and fleet performance management, cybersecurity assessments and more.

Our other business areas beyond Maritime provide services to our industry in management system certification, certification of infection prevention, sustainability and technical software.

Tell us about the company’s new corporate identity and the name change from “DNV GL” to simply “DNV,” which became effective on March 1. What was the reasoning behind the change and how does it affect customers?

Back in 2013 we merged two leading companies – DNV and GL – with complementary legacies, strengths and market positions. The new brand is meant to simplify our name and carry all the strengths of our proud legacy from different companies to build an even stronger brand built on the trust that our customers place in us.

DNV is a global leader in decarbonization and the maritime industry’s quest for zero carbon emissions. Tell us about some of the initiatives in this area.

We’ve been working hard to convey the message that the time to act is now. While there is no “perfect” fuel, we must come together to develop solutions, and flexibility will play a critical role as we transition to a lower carbon future. DNV’s work in this area began more than two decades ago, long before there were specific requirements surrounding GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, with the release of the first rule sets in the market for LNG as fuel followed by battery hybrid-powered ships.

Today, our annual “Maritime Forecast to 2050” examines the future of shipping in a rapidly changing global energy landscape. We see LNG as a bridging fuel that offers an immediate carbon-reducing option and can be used to future proof vessels built in this decade and beyond. In the deep-sea segment especially, dual-fuel solutions and “alternative-fuel-ready” solutions could smooth the transition by laying the groundwork for a future retrofit.

In the long-term, beyond LNG our research suggests that ammonia, biodiesel, liquid biogas and electro-fuels are promising carbon neutral options in the deep-sea sector with battery-hybrid, fuel cell and hydrogen solutions as leading options for the short-sea segment.

In the Americas, we’re working with a number of operators taking steps toward a low-carbon future including Washington State Ferries, which has committed to all-electric ferries as part of the Washington Maritime Blue strategy, and Seaspan Corporation, which recently signed an order for 5+5 15,000-TEU, LNG dual-fuel containerships with Samsung Heavy Industries.

We saw that DNV recently joined the Smart Maritime Network, a collaboration dedicated to enhancing industry cooperation on digitalization. Why is digitalization so important to the future of the industry?

The Smart Maritime Network is dedicated to supporting collaboration and standardization in the development of IT systems for the maritime sector, something we’ve been doing since 2017 when we launched our Veracity Data Platform. Veracity makes it easier for organizations to undergo their digital transformation by providing a platform for the storage of high-security data with safe sharing mechanisms, data contextualized according to industry standards and easy access to sector-specific applications. The Smart Maritime Network is highly relevant as it will affect how fast the maritime industry can move forward in deriving full value from its data.

Sustainable Oceans is another DNV priority, involving such areas as offshore wind and aquaculture. Tell us about that.

DNV was the project manager and lead editor of the “Ocean Stewardship 2030” report presented last September by our Group President & CEO, Remi Eriksen, at the U.N. General Assembly. It’s now subject to annual review by the U.N. Global Compact. Based on that, we’re applying our expertise from many decades of working on bottom-fixed offshore wind and near-coastal aquaculture into new technologies like floating offshore wind and offshore aquaculture.

We see potential for strong growth in these areas that will translate into opportunities for those in the maritime industry. This is the U.N. Decade of Action when we simply must make progress for a healthy and productive ocean.

“When Trust Matters” is DNV’s new tagline and an apt summary of the company’s vision. What does it mean for DNV’s clients?

At a time when the world is transforming faster and more digitally and relying on others to get work done, trust, independence and unbiased opinion will matter most. DNV’s vision is to be a trusted voice to tackle global transformations.

What’s your biggest challenge right now?

We’ve stated many times that this will be a decade of transformation, especially for the maritime industry, and that gives us a huge opportunity to help our customers and the industry decarbonize and digitalize – goals that our stakeholders and society demand.

What’s your vision for DNV’s Maritime Americas? Where would you like to see it in five years?

We see some transformations already taking place in certain market segments and anticipate other segments changing permanently due to COVID-19. Oil and gas companies are transforming into energy companies, and the cruise segment will change with an enhanced focus on infection prevention.

As a leading technological and professional services organization with a reputation for independence and knowledge derived from the diversified industries where we work, DNV is ideally positioned to contribute positively to our stakeholders in the maritime and energy industries.

You’ve lived all over the world during your nearly 40-year career and are a great example of a global manager. What lessons have you learned from that experience?

I can think of two things: Learning more by staying curious and taking interest in the local community and its culture as every place has something positive to offer, and the second is that diversity helps greatly in bringing new ideas to the world.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Empowerment. DNV is a relatively flat organization full of exceptional people. We invest heavily in knowledge-based training and trust our people so that they feel empowered to execute their roles with pride. I try to keep a balance between long-term objectives and supporting our short-term needs.  Trusting my managers and empowering them to carry out delegated responsibilities helps greatly in keeping that balance. 

What excites you most about your job?

Engaging with the industry, especially our clients and people. Mentoring young people in our own organization and through other organizations that I am engaged with and seeing them grow in their personal, family and business lives brings great happiness to me.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Spend more time with my family when I get the opportunity as both our children are away at universities. I love to read, play the guitar and listen to music.

Thank you for your time! Any final message for our readers?

We’re living in an exciting time when just a decade brings extraordinary transformation that took centuries in the past. Staying curious and engaged not only brings happiness but also makes the world a better place for future generations. – MarEx

Jack O’Connell is the magazine’s Senior Editor.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.