I met Captain V S Parani during a Shipping event in Limassol three years ago. His passion for the seafaring career he devoted his life to, is evident to such an extent, that he decided to write about it and influence the lives of many with his touching stories and inspirational leadership thoughts.
He recently launched his first book “Golden Stripes - Leadership on the High Seas”. He talks about his commitment to write, even when he did not feel like it and this is one of the biggest lessons in life: to stay committed to our goals and determined to succeed, by overcoming challenges and our own emotional state.
Muriel: “Captain Parani, congratulations on writing ‘the world's first book on leadership specifically for mariners by a mariner’! How did you take the decision to write this amazing book?”
Captain Parani: “Early in my career, seeing my ship nearly crash on to the rocks opened my eyes to a reality - leadership makes the crucial difference between a ship reaching port safely and sinking to the bottom of the ocean.
During my spare time, I read maritime accident reports and share with my colleagues - so much so that my wife quipped that we had ‘nothing positive to share’. I reflected on this. There are many news articles and investigation reports but only a few focused on the lessons learnt from them, from a larger perspective. The Titanic and the Costa Concordia occurred exactly 100 years apart - what are the lessons we still haven’t learned? This is the question that made me write Golden Stripes. This is my humble attempt to share insights from my own career and from case-studies in an easily accessible format to all maritime professionals.”
Muriel: “It is a great tool for maritime professionals, indeed. What were the major challenges you faced throughout your writing project?”
Captain Parani: “Time, and commitment to write even when I didn’t feel like it. A good book requires years of research and writing. Working a high-pressure corporate role allows me to write only in the early hours of the morning and on weekends. But it has been worth the effort, and my family supported me every step of the way, though sometimes, (laughs) grudgingly.”
Muriel: “How is it like for you, to live on the high seas and what did your experiences teach you about the seafaring life?”
Captain Parani: “My childhood dream was to become a sea captain, which I eventually did at the age of 29, becoming one of the youngest in a fleet of over a hundred ships. I was simply thrilled to be sailing the high seas.
Each day at sea was memorable with new lessons to learn. The sea is unforgiving, and there is no room for error. I was faced with several decisions having life or death, or huge commercial consequences, and I learnt to make these high-stakes decisions early in my career. It involves humility before the sea, respect for the ship, professional knowledge, and constantly working on building a great team.”
Muriel: “This is amazing! And when you look back at you career at sea, what is the advice you would give today to all mariners?”
Captain Parani: “Develop a passion for shipping by working hard. Aim to shine in whatever you do.
I would also recommend everyone to keep a professional journal. You’d be surprised how much your own experiences can teach you. My own journal going back twenty years was a great resource for this book.
Learn from the mistakes of others so that you don’t have to make them yourself. Doing my part, I have narrated many of my ‘learning’ moments in Golden Stripes.”
Muriel: “Keeping a journal is indeed a great and valuable idea. Who should read “Golden Stripes” and what will they learn from your experience on the high seas?”
Captain Parani: “I wrote Golden Stripes asking myself this: ‘what do my seafaring friends need to know to succeed at sea?’
Until now, we haven’t had a resource to inspire us to be a better seafarer, much less a great captain or chief engineer. How do you lead? How do you run a ship? How do you act in the face of danger? How do you keep your crew and cargo safe? How can you rise through the ranks, become a senior officer, and avoid maritime disasters?
Golden Stripes is full of real-life stories to help mariners discover how to ‘run a tight ship’, practical strategies to develop your expertise, tools to lead your team on board and to communicate with confidence.
But the lessons from the sea are applicable everywhere, and this is what Mr. Richard Koch, author of million-copy-selling The 80/20 Principle had to say about Golden Stripes: ‘This is an extraordinary book, from a real captain of the seas. Leadership is usually a mushy subject, but I was gripped by this. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to lead anything, anywhere.’
Muriel: “Are you planning to write another book soon?”
Captain Parani: “Golden Stripes-Leadership on the High Seas is the first of a trilogy. I do hope that my readers will give me candid feedback and suggestions on what they would like to read about in the next book. I’m all ears at parani.org.”
Captain VS Parani is an executive with a multinational shipping company, after having become one of the fleet’s youngest captains at the age of 29. He is a Fellow of the Nautical Institute, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers and a Chartered Marine Technologist - IMarEST. He can be reached at www.parani.org
Muriel Matta (BSc, MSc, MPhil, Cert CTT Practitioner) is the Founder of Maravilhosa.
She is a multilingual Human Resources Management expert, with extensive cross-cultural experience, spanning 26 years in MENA, Europe and CIS.
Through her work with Organizations and Individuals, she helps solve the toughest HR challenges by customizing unique training and coaching solutions to inspire change, positive thinking and transformation.
Muriel can be contacted via email: Muriel@maravilhosa.net