Prashant Widge

“The Blue MBA helped me transform into a thought leader”

Having been born and brought up in Mumbai, Captain Prashant S. Widge has spent over two decades in the shipping industry, working within multicultural teams across the globe. During that time he has become a strong advocate for investing in continual learning as a key ingredient to holistic development. Rising from his time as one of the youngest Captains to lead the Responsible Ship Recycling (RSR) department at A.P. Moller – Maersk, Prashant believes the Blue MBA at CBS presented him with the toolbox and know-how for driving sustainable value and creating a positive impact.

“To me, leadership and learning are entwined with one another. After a fulfilling career at sea, in 2012 I came ashore to pursue my constant quest for learning, growth and development opportunities. I continued my career with Maersk in a role aimed at systemising risk and crisis management in the areas of shipboard HSE, security, navigation and cargo management. In 2016, I humbly accepted a role leading the strategic shared-value RSR programme, anchored in the former sustainability function. Working across brands and geographies, my task was to tackle the industry the International Labour Office – the UN’s agency setting standards for workers – termed ‘most dangerous’, with 90% of ships undergoing recycling at sub-standard facilities in South Asia.

‘Black spot’ industry challenge; leading sustainable change

“In the absence of a global mandatory regulatory framework, ship recycling is a black spot in the shipping value chain. While we knew it would be challenging for one company to change this, we decided to act, and conceived a flagship programme to transform the industry. Over the past five years, through engagement on the ground as a catalyst, we selectively collaborated through relational integration, created a win-win proposition for yards to invest in upgrades and increased transparency in the value chain. As a change agent, I manoeuvred through the complexities of an international political landscape, identifying measures to incentivise the local ship recycling industry to step up and reach international standards. I also convinced shipping stakeholders, local and global NGO groups to play their part.

“The journey has been a high-impact one – from leading high-profile delegations of customers, investors, and top media houses, to joining debates in the EU parliament, communicating our strategic priorities and the impact achieved.

“To date, we have responsibly recycled over 25 ships globally, far exceeding the regulatory framework.”

A generalised-specialist MBA; an ‘outside in’ view

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. Academic studies have always been close to my heart and learning has been key throughout my journey.

“After choosing to come ashore in 2012, to spend more time with my young family, I explored the opportunity to enhance my knowledge and perspective tools through an MBA. With the know-how of maritime, shipping, and logistics and its significant role in the global trade, I wanted to leverage my experience and continue pursuing my professional journey in this phenomenal industry.

“Having reviewed shipping education offerings globally, I decided that a century-old triple-accredited CBS-offered Blue MBA was a perfect fit. Offering high-quality executive education, this carefully crafted programme for senior management professionals provided a holistic view of the shipping industry and an opportunity to be part of an unrivalled international network. Ours was a truly global class of 30+ diverse and inclusive leaders learning from the best international experts as well as from each other. While the Integrated Strategy Project (ISP) offered a nuanced approach to apply classroom learnings in the real world.”

Becoming a thought leader

“In 2020, I was appointed the first ambassador of this programme in India with a responsibility to enhance the already strong links between Danish academia and business, and the maritime industry in India. Since then, we have partnered with the Gujarat Maritime University to develop curriculum for its MBA and collaborated with industry stakeholders to increase the focus on ship recycling through its inclusion in the IN-DK Green strategic partnership.

“With global ship recycling volumes projected to double by 2028 and quadruple by 2033, the potential solutions will be driven by increased global demand for scrap to produce carbon profile steel, circularity and reducing carbon emissions. Our push for differentiation based on performance has resonated with investors, with whom we now collaborate to drive industry-specific and metric-driven standards. These focus on financial materiality and enable integration of ESG considerations into investment and stewardship decisions.

“Three focus areas with tremendous potential are managing our workforce with constant care by investing in building and nurturing a diverse and inclusive talent pool, green shipping – sustainability, transparency, ESG and transitioning towards zero emissions – and digitisation.

“The Blue MBA, albeit a challenging assignment to embark on, is one that I would highly recommend to a top-quality maritime professional willing to invest significant efforts in staying ahead of the curve. With the acquired tools and experience, I feel the future is exciting and believe I am well-positioned to meaningfully contribute to our society, community, and the shipping industry at large as it moves into a decisive decade of large-scale sustainable organisational transformation.

“And it’s thought leadership, that I am confident will hold the key.”