As the Maritime Personality of our Issue 09, we interviewed Captain Nazim, Managing Director of Maldives State Shipping to learn more about his remarkable 20-year journey in the shipping industry.
From Mariner to Managing Director: Captain Nazim’s Uplifting Journey
Individuals often embark on unconventional journeys in the pursuit of a prosperous life and elevated living conditions. For Captain Mohamed Nazim, the incumbent Managing Director of the Maldives State Shipping (MSS), this journey began out of a desire for financial stability and a fulfilling profession. With a maritime career now spanning over two decades, Captain Nazim’s story is one of tenacity, determination, and a vision for a better future.
Early Aspirations and Pragmatic Choices
“I gave up the idea of working at a resort after thinking deeply about the future,” says Captain Nazim, reflecting on the pivotal moment when he decided to forgo a comfortable life on the idyllic islands and instead pursued a career at sea. In his quest to secure financial stability, Captain Nazim recognized that two options beckoned him: the allure of a resort job or the adventurous life of a seafarer.
His decision was firmly grounded in pragmatism. He devised a financial strategy that favoured the latter path. Boarding a ship not only offered a higher salary but also swift promotions. Ample growth opportunities await those who choose the maritime route. With these prospects in mind, Captain Nazim boldly set sail, prioritising long-term benefits over immediate comforts.
Undeterred by the potential heartache of being away from his family, he first boarded a ship without informing his parents, eager to prove the viability of his chosen path. When he finally revealed his intentions to his parents, they were initially taken aback, but his resolve to make his dreams a reality helped ease their concerns.
Charting a Course Towards Education and Expertise
The nascent phase of his maritime journey saw Captain Nazim join the ranks of the then national shipping company, Maldives National Shipping Line (MNSL), where he shuttled between the Maldivian capital of Malé City and the bustling port city of Singapore. After six months, he transitioned to MNSL’s foreign fleet, embarking on voyages that nurtured his skills and honed his expertise.
Captain Nazim’s commitment never wavered. He understood that experience could not be rushed, and he dedicated three years to labouring aboard ships, garnering vital knowledge and hands-on experience. His ultimate goal was to attain the esteemed position of an Offcer, which required rigorous training and education.
“After completing three years of sea time, I went to Sri Lanka to study further.”
He diligently balanced long stints at sea with conscientious study, however, the challenges of securing steady employment in the maritime industry in the Maldives during that era posed a significant hurdle. The limited number of available ships compared to the multitude of aspiring seamen led to intense competition for coveted positions.
Captain Nazim’s resourcefulness came to the fore once again. Realising that alternative avenues were necessary to continue a fulfilling career, he embarked on a new journey and joined a German ship owning company. In pursuit of higher education and career advancement, he spent six years in the same company and then shifted to several more internationally renowned companies and attained the distinguished rank of Ship Captain. His journey to becoming a Ship Captain is a testament to his tenacity towards his chosen path, with a well-structured plan in mind.
“I gave myself a timeline. I joined as a Deck Cadet at the age of 19 and I was thinking of getting o the ship after 20 years. So, I stopped sailing after 20 years at sea,” he recounts.
It was this clear roadmap that guided his trajectory, but even after celebrating his 20th anniversary in the maritime industry, his passion for the field remains the same. Though he may no longer find himself at sea, Captain Nazim’s dedication to the maritime sector continued to manifest in various ways. In his post-seafaring phase, he shifted his focus to providing essential services to ships arriving in the Maldives, showcasing his commitment to this dynamic industry.
A Pivotal Opportunity with MSS
The next decisive moment in Captain Nazim’s career unfolded with the government’s decision to establish a new national shipping line, Maldives State Shipping (MSS). Following the dissolution of the initial company operating in this domain, this move symbolised hope and optimism for Captain Nazim and many other workers in the maritime industry. From seafarers to support staff on land, it signified a fresh start and a renewed commitment to advancing the maritime sector in the Maldives.
“I am proud to say I was the inaugural employee of MSS,” says Captain Nazim.
The establishment of MSS coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, marked by severe challenges in importing
essential goods. In this globally tumultuous time, MSS assumed a pivotal role in maintaining stable freight rates, emerging as a resilient pillar of support for the nation. Captain Nazim identifies this achievement as the company’s crowning glory in its initial three years of operation.
“It underscores MSS’s unwavering commitment to the Maldivian people and our readiness to tackle unforeseen challenges head-on,” he says. As a subsidiary of the State Trading Organization plc. (STO), MSS has today firmly established itself as the most dependable public enterprise within the nation. With a mission rooted in serving
the interests of the Maldivian people and fostering economic growth, MSS has not only carved out its niche in the maritime industry but has also become an integral part of the country’s economic infrastructure.
In Captain Mohamed Nazim’s remarkable career, the timeline he set for himself not only marked his ascent to the rank of Captain but also highlighted his unwavering commitment to the maritime industry, a commitment that continues to shape the future of this vital sector with him now at the helm of MSS.
Dispelling Fallacies to Inspire Future Mariners
From a young age, Captain Nazim had transformed an uncertain vision into a thriving reality. Today’s youth, too, are presented with the opportunity to chart a similar course, considering the promising future benefits.
In contrast to the circumstances faced by Captain Nazim during his formative years, the maritime landscape in the Maldives has undergone a remarkable transformation. MSS, under Captain Nazim’s astute leadership, has expanded its burgeoning fleet to encompass five vessels. This growth has translated into abundant career prospects for the nation’s youth, who now have the opportunity to explore fulfilling careers in the maritime sector.
Nevertheless, the reluctance among young Maldivians to embrace this promising path persists. The perception of seafaring as a hazardous occupation that separates them from family and familiarity, while wholly untrue, remains a considerable deterrent.
Captain Nazim is quick to dispel these apprehensions. He assures parents that their children’s safety is paramount in the maritime industry, which is governed by stringent regulations. “Seafarers lead comfortable lives and are rewarded with generous salaries,” He says, quelling any concerns regarding their well-being.
Captain Mohamed Nazim’s life is a living testament to these assertions. He chose the open sea over the Maldives’ dominant tourism industry and, in doing so, ascended to the highest echelons of his country’s maritime domain. As the current Managing Director of MSS, he ensures that the company not only thrives, but has assumed the role of a
torchbearer, fostering the aspirations of young individuals through scholarships and training programs. It paves the way for future leaders who will follow in his footsteps, ensuring that the legacy of success and opportunity continues to flourish within the maritime industry of the Maldives.