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Which was the first young shipping professional network ever?

Which was the first young shipping professional network ever?

Today most of the world’s maritime centres have young shipping professional networks…. But how did they come about? How did it all start? Who started it?

Meet the man who re-invented how young people in the shipping industry get together… the founder of the first ever young shipping professional network, Mr Arnout De Bruijn.

SPNL: When did you decide to start a young shipping professional network?

When I was graduating, beginning of 1988 until August 1988, I realised that I actually only knew the few people I studied with and that the “Whole Big World Out There” was completely unknown to me: nobody knew me, I knew nobody. Whom to call if I wanted something arranged ?

I started to look for a network like Diners, Round Table Club etc but for younger people, me being not a Captain of Industry (yet  ) I realised importance of having a network!
But, since those networks were only available for people “who had made it”, I figured I “then had to start one myself, for younger people up until 40 years of age”.
But how ? And with whom ? And what would bring people along ?

Coincidentally, in the same period, by the time I graduated, there was a lecture organised by my Professor, which was also other students, from different disciplines (namely: Frank, Marc, Danielle) and Rob form my own study.

We talked about the idea to “create” a network and – in short – after about one year of calling, visiting, meeting you name it, the idea was fixed and ready to launch:
Every third Thursday of the month we would have the Penthouse-hall in the Atlanta Hotel in Rotterdam and free parking down stairs; every meeting we would invite one of the Captains of Industry to tell a great story about his business area or something big he had experienced. After that: an informal drink where we all could meet one another.

This idea was spread around in our “business card box”-databases; remember, there was no internet, no social media whatsoever !
After a couple of months, there already were more than 100 people attending every now and then.
After a year the amount of paying members was 180, after two years 250.

I left the active shipping world in 1995 after some change of work, but in 2010 I was invited by the then sitting Board to tell about the beginning of LinkMaritiem.

It still exists, however in a somewhat different approach nowadays.

SPNL: What inspired you?

What inspired me the most was the “boost” I was given by the idea to get really started in the Real Life, after my study.
I started to become someone who created something the world had not seen yet, rather than be an anonymous student.
The fact that the other members of the first board were also enthusiastic supported by people who said they would come to the meetings (and actually came!) not to mention the people who gave lectures sharing their knowledge and experience!
That really inspired me; it was hard working, negotiating about everything: from the location Atlanta Hotel, to the logo of Link, the way to communicate with everybody – everything.

Anyway, it worked out well and it still lives in Rotterdam!

Since then there has been a clear mandate the world over to replicate the success in the Netherlands (Rotterdam), with the mid-2000’s seeing launches in NY, Oslo, Greece and not to mention ourselves in London (with the SPNL).
This effectively means that Link Maritiem was the first ever young shipping professional network and Arnout could be regarded as the “Godfather of the young shipping professional networks”.
Similar to SPNL, Link Maritiem was driven from the grass roots with a group of passionate people in conducting this in the spare time in parallel with their professional “day jobs”.

Alongside Arnout de Bruijn, the founding board members were: Rob Heijliger, Frank Teeuwen, Mark Menon and Danielle Simons
To visit he Link Maritiem website: CLICK HERE

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