Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, one of the world’s largest ship management companies, partners in an ERM-targeted joint venture with BCD Travel. About 20,000 BSM employees enable the management of around 600 vessels across the globe. The company’s fleet personnel managers coordinate crew assignments. To get the job done, they rely on a customized crew-booking technology available exclusively through BCD Energy, Resources and Marine.
BSM Fleet Personnel Manager Sofronis Theodosiou explains how the technology makes his job easier, what he loves about his work and how life on the high seas has evolved.
Tell us about your seafaring career
Sofronis Theodosiou: “I graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy in Hydra, Greece, in 1990 and sailed on tanker vessels as a deck officer until mid-1994. Then I joined Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement and climbed the ladder to my current position.”
What do you love about your job?
Sofronis Theodosiou: “No day is the same as the day before. Every day we learn a new thing. And I appreciate that BSM has given me the liberty to build and develop a talented team that delivers good results.”
What’s challenging about your job?
Sofronis Theodosiou: “Seafaring is one of the world’s oldest occupations, but if you cannot accept change and follow technological development, then you will not succeed in it today.”
What makes the proprietary crew management tool offered through BCD Energy, Resources and Marine different from other crew-management solutions out there?
Sofronis Theodosiou: “The tool, called smartPAL, is a web-based enterprise resource planning software that puts essential data and reports in one place. Within that application there’s a travel management system called Trip Planner, which can stand alone or be integrated with human resources, crewing and accounting systems. This combination brings together data beyond the typical travel profile. I can access crew qualifications, annual leave requirements, vessel and port information and more. It’s easy, quick and user-friendly.”
How does Trip Planner simplify your job?
Sofronis Theodosiou: “Trip Planner pulls data together to automate a travel booking. Let’s say I need three crew members for a particular vessel. I can input a requirement to find only those with the appropriate certifications and book their travel right in the system. All the additional information needed for the travel booking is auto-generated. That saves me a lot of time.”
Does automation come into play in other ways?
Sofronis Theodosiou: “Yes, Trip Planner is designed to create a seamless booking process, and that requires automation. For example, the tool automates the ability to drive savings by comparing marine and offshore fares alongside published, corporate and low-cost carrier fares in one view. It even adds cancellation and split-ticket options.”
How is smartPAL tailored specifically for seafarers?
Sofronis Theodosiou: “I’ll describe a common scenario. Let’s say a vessel is disrupted and won’t reach port in time. I can use smartPAL’s route-planning capabilities to make necessary updates—the new arrival date, additional crew hours, anticipated reduction in onboard supplies and any impact on crew changes—all at once. It’s easy and super efficient.”