Meet our new CEO, Bob Sanguinetti
The UK Chamber's new Chief Executive is looking forward to getting stuck in
After just a week in the role, Bob Sanguinetti is settling in as Chief Executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping.
“I’m struck by the breadth of the UK’s maritime sector and by its excellent reputation both at home and abroad. By virtue of the fact we’re an island, we enjoy a rich maritime heritage and, looking to the future, the shipping sector can only increase in importance as the economy grows," he says.
“It’s crystal clear that the maritime industry is a fundamental component part of the UK economy in terms of job creation, wealth creation and facilitation of business. More generally, it affects us all – especially when you consider that 95% of goods that arrive in the UK comes by sea.”
That free flow of trade is, of course, something the Chamber seeks to protect as the UK negotiates its exit from the European Union.
"I have a good understanding of the importance of freedom of movement of people and goods across borders to allow business to flourish, so I think I’m well placed to pick up the challenges posed by Brexit,” Bob explains.
It helps that he already has some key experience as a business leader with dealings on both sides of an EU border.
Bob returned to his native Gibraltar in 2014 and spent almost four years as CEO of the Port of Gibraltar Authority, following a thirty-year-long career in the Royal Navy.
“With respect to Gibraltar and Brexit, the key challenge was reinforcing the continuing importance of the port as a fundamental pillar of the economy regardless of Brexit, but also the importance of maintaining the smooth flow of goods and people at the border in support of port operations,” he says of his previous role.
“To me, this showed the importance of working very closely with industry and Government to make sure everyone fully understands the impact of policy and policy changes, and the need to identify and seize opportunities in developing policy that best supports the shipping industry.”
The first half of Bob’s career in the Royal Navy was spent at sea, during which time he rose to the rank of Commodore. He subsequently served ashore in senior management roles in strategic planning, operations, personnel and finance.
The highlight of his military career, Bob says, was "the privilege of commanding, separately, a mine hunter, a frigate and a multinational task group".
His commercial experience, meanwhile, was consolidated while working for the Gibraltar Port Authority. In this role, Bob says he introduced a number of initiatives aimed at improving efficiency in the port and he worked closely with the local port community to optimise the speed, quality and range of services delivered to ships calling at Gibraltar. “We also pursued a robust marketing campaign internationally and turned around declining levels of activity into double-digit growth,” he says of the programme.
Gibraltar is the busiest bunker port in the Mediterranean, supplying over 9,000 ships a year. During his time at the Port Authority, Bob built on its solid reputation and aimed to consolidate the port’s productivity. The port's success, he says, is underpinned by consistency. In this way, the Port Authority was able to provide quality governance and oversight, while creating a safe environment in which business could flourish.
“I hope to build on the excellent work done by my predecessor in further raising the profile of the UK Chamber and by extension the UK shipping industry, both nationally and internationally,” he says of the road ahead.
“I will be engaging widely with our membership over the coming weeks to build a good understanding of their issues and concerns, in order to promote their interests, influence government and, more generally, help raise awareness of the importance of the UK shipping sector.”