Maximising maritime efficiency through the power of big data

Stellios Stratidakis leads the fast-growing Data Team at MarineTraffic HQ in Athens. MarineTraffic Blog sat down with Stellios to discuss his path to MarineTraffic, what keeps him busy and his ambitions for the Data Team in a period of rapid growth for the company.

Like many at MarineTraffic, Stellios took his first steps in the maritime industry when he walked through the doors at the company’s headquarters in Athens. Despite the industry being new to him, his specialism in statistics and data interpretation were long-held passions.

“During my high-school years, Statistics and Probability Theory were the branches of maths I enjoyed the most. This, combined with an early interest in stock markets, made analysing data, interpreting and developing statistics a fun project, so it seemed a natural progression to study for a degree in Statistics and Insurance Science”.

It led to what seemed to be the ideal job as a freelance stock trader, where he built up a personal portfolio and data analysis evolved into a daily task. However, after nearly seven years of trading, Stellios decided it was time for a change.

“I learned some good, lifelong lessons while trading but, ultimately, I lost my motivation for it. It can be a very lonely profession often consisting of late nights. When MarineTraffic offered me a role, a company that holds such strong community values, I did not think twice”.

Stellios initially joined MarineTraffic as a technical writer. It was his MarineTraffic education; delivering the Knowledge Base from scratch and authoring over 200 articles.

“When I came to MarineTraffic, I was initially involved in the design and content creation of the MarineTraffic Knowledge Base. It gave me the opportunity to learn the product first-hand and it quickly exposed me to an array of protocols, terms and technologies”.

After four months as a technical writer at MarineTraffic, Stellios transitioned into what was then a newly emerging Data Team, filling the role of Data Analyst.

“My day to day role involved dealing with tons of incoming data, so for someone with a passion for statistics such as myself, it was the perfect fit”.

As the growth of MarineTraffic continued to soar, so too did the size of the Data Team. It wasn’t long before Stellios was leading a group of 10.

“When I took on the role of Data Team Leader, I was so fortunate to have a group of such highly talented and driven individuals to work with. In collaboration with all the other high-performing teams at MarineTraffic, we have been able to build a truly ‘data-driven’ organisational culture”.

Now Head of Data, Stellios oversees all activities of the Data Team, ensuring that the team’s goals are in line with the company’s broader ambitions.

“The roots of my interest in statistics are still relevant together with keeping up with technology advancements in the field. However, it is important to see the bigger picture now, to make sure that I offer an environment for my team members to grow and take ownership of their ideas, and, as a team, that we stay aligned to the ambitious goals of the wider MarineTraffic business. What is most important to me is that all members have confidence in themselves and the outcome of their work. That our workplace is a setting they feel assured that openness and transparency in their interactions with me, and with each other, is respected.”

Stellios believes the key to the enduring success of the team is to ensure they continue to build on the great work they have accomplished so far in research, innovation and product delivery.

“Our key challenge is continuity. Data knowledge is not enough – understanding shipping markets is also necessary to push for novel solutions that answer old questions in more effective ways. We are getting more and more focused on market research so that we can more successfully engage with our users and customer-facing teams to address real-life industry challenges. We believe a better connected maritime industry is a more efficient one. Our mission is to assist in turning this concept into reality.”

MarineTraffic Seminar ‘Data-driven Optimisation Opportunities’ Hamburg, 5 September

During the week of the upcoming SMM fair, Stellios will be leading a MarineTraffic seminar on Big Data driving Voyage and Port Call Optimisation. The seminar, which takes place at the German Shipowners’ Association (VDR), Hamburg, on Wednesday 5 September, is appropriate for shipping, port and logistics executives and will explore how MarineTraffic data can enhance operational efficiency. For more details, click here.

About MarineTraffic Data Team

Formed as a dedicated team in early 2016, the Data Team is now the second largest aspect of MarineTraffic, comprising of 15 Data Curators, Engineers and Scientists. The team is responsible for ensuring data quality, monitoring and curating data-sets while promoting data and market understanding. Further to this, the team identifies and sources third-party data-sets for product enhancements, provides analytics, reports and extractions for internal and external use, in addition to offering business insights to support the rest of the MarineTraffic team. The end goal of this process is actively promoting the development of meaningful solutions to the maritime ecosystem.

Bill Lines
Bill is a director of London based maritime public relations firm Navigate PR and has been working with MarineTraffic since 2013.