Name: Francesco Mazzella
Country of Origin: Italy
Country of Current Residence: USA
Job Title: Technical Operations Director
1. Why did you become a Technical Operations Director and how long have you been in this role?
I followed the shoreside career path in marine technical operations, after moving from the same company’s shipboard engine department in 2012. I have been in this position for three years.
2. What is a Technical Operations Director responsible for?
The Technical Operations Director (also know as the Fleet Director) is in charge of the overall strategic plan and the technical side of the ships operations. They are also responsible for ensuring compliance with international, local, and company procedures and regulations and manage a group of shoreside superintendents, who assist the ships with the day-to-day repair and maintenance.
3. What specific qualifications and/or experience are required for this position?
A Bachelor’s Degree in Naval Architecture, Marine Engineering or related field and ten years of shipboard experience as a Senior Officer in the Engine department, holding Chief Eng. license.
4. Please describe a typical working day for you.
Most of my time is occupied by operational status reviews and updates, and with technical planning. I would say that in this position there is not a “typical” working day, as the pace of operation often requires us to review our daily schedule and make last minute changes. The core of a normal day turns around repair and maintenance assistance to the ships, dry docks, and special projects preparation. The largest portion of time is focused on safety, environmental, and health procedures and compliance.
5. What personal qualities do you consider to be drivers of success for this position?
I believe the quality to adapt to changes, and the ability to rapidly shift focus according to the dynamics of the operations is essential. Within my peers I personally love working with detail oriented people, who are still able to think out of the box without losing the sight of the big picture.
6. If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what other job would you be doing and why?
Over the years my ambitions shifted, and while I remember my first contract on a cargo ship, telling the Captain that my dream was to become a good Chief Engineer, later on I realized that I wanted to contribute to the technical developments of the industry from ashore. So, if I didn’t move shoreside, at this time I would be still sailing as a Chief Engineer, which is something I have studied for, and worked hard to reach; besides, for me shipboard technical management has always been a pure passion.
7. What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love that feeling that remind me of the “TETRIS” arcade game, when all the pieces of a plan come together and precisely fit into each other, despite sometimes unexpected makes that difficult.
8. What do you enjoy least?
Organising my inbox, filing folders and archive. This is something extremely necessary that must be done on a regular basis due to the large flow of important communications.
9. Which of your co-workers would you like to give a ‘shout out’ to and why?
I never lose the opportunity to recognize people who go the extra mile without asking for anything in return – those who are genuinely committed to a safe and reliable operation, and to guest satisfaction.
10. Tell us something about yourself that not many people know! 😊
Many years ago, when I was still working on ships as engine officer, I went through a difficult period and I wrote a book about my first experience at sea. Initially I thought that it would discourage the any readers aiming for that type of career, but instead I have received many letters from excited young students, who read the book and were intrigued by the stories.