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STARTING LINE Q


Setting sail


German Tobias Rennekamp is on a three-month placement in London as the UK P&I Club Robin Travis scholarship winner. He shares his experience of the marine insurance sector


Words: Ines Nastali


“I wanted to be a football player, as every guy does,” Tobias Rennekamp confesses about his original career plans, which took a slightly different path towards the marine insurance industry. The assistant operations officer at Liberty One Shipmanagement, attributes his interest in shipping to his family. “When I was a boy, my grandpa took me to


see the big ships at the harbour in Hamburg,” he tells us. This prompted Rennekamp to study maritime technology and shipping in northern Germany’s Hochschule Emden/Leer technical academy. The town, which boasts a population of just 30,000, has a strong maritime flavour and is the registered headquarters of about 20% of the German merchant fleet. However, Leer was not all smooth sailing


and the job market proved so difficult that Rennekamp had to move to Bremen in order to complete his practical semester. “Finding work experience during my


studies was close to impossible – I was lucky to know the son of someone who owned a management company,” he says. It’s a timely warning to industry newcomers that shipping is a very hard sector to break in to. “Economically, it’s a hard time for ship


owners and this can make it difficult to find employment. I was always told that while the companies I approached felt I was competent, there weren’t any vacancies,” he says. Rennekamp highlights that this situation is a puzzling one, as companies are warning that there aren’t enough young people going to sea, but they fail to take on any newcomers. His struggle to find a work placement


ensured that Rennekamp went out of his way to prove himself as an intern at Liberty One Shipmanagement. He managed to impressing his bosses sufficiently that his internship translated into his current role. In fact, it was his employer who suggested he apply for the Robin Travis Scholarship, which is only open to individuals within the shipping, transport or


“I examine claims and


charters pertaining to damages or frauds. We try to find out what happened during a voyage where a


examine claims and charters pertaining to damages or frauds. We basically try to find out what happened during a voyage where a problem occurred and get to the bottom of it.” Rennekamp is keen on resolving matters as


problem occurred and get to the bottom of it” Tobias Rennekamp, Liberty One assistant operations officer and scholarship winner


insurance sector in Germany. Scholarship recipients benefit from a three-month placement at the Thomas Miller offices in London, which provides an overview of the industry from a different angle. “The application process wasn’t hard – all


you need to do is show a genuine interest in shipping,” he says. Being lucky enough to have a contact at the company was another bonus. Rennekamp was also grateful to visit London and get a taste for the city. Halfway through his placement, he has already worked with several different law and insurance firms. “Essentially, I look into what can go wrong for owners insured at the UK P&I Club, and


quickly as possible. “At the end of the day, you want to know who’s responsible and has to pay for the damage, because every day a vessel is forced to stay at a port results in delays and unnecessary costs,” he explains. Although fascinated by lawyers and how they turn cases around with their arguments, Rennekamp believes that solving an issue with all parties involved is preferable to going to court. So far, the scholarship winner has enjoyed


every part of the exchange except for one thing… “I’m lost when it comes to chemical tanker accidents as I don’t have a background in chemistry,” he laughs. However, being based in London means that he can approach contacts with the appropriate skills to explain the nuances of any given situation. “It’s easier to talk to people when you’ve


met them, rather than just having chatted over the phone,” he says, hoping to maintain his new contacts while back in Bremen.


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