When Theo Xenakoudis joined IRI in 2001, the Piraeus office was only 4 strong, and was led by Captain John Giannopoulos, together with Theo’s father, Captain Costas Xenakoudis. The office focused on processing seafarers’ documentation and licensing, as well as conducting ships’ inspections in Greece. Today of course, the Piraeus office is a regional hub of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry activity. As IRI’s second largest office, Piraeus handles all aspects of corporate and maritime registry related services.
“The role of the flag State has changed since I started,” Theo said. “Twenty years ago, there was not so frequent and daily communication with Classification Societies (Class) was not as common as it is today. In today’s business environment, we are really integrated from top to bottom, letting us provide high-quality support and service to our fleet.”
Theo became Managing Director of the Piraeus office in 2007, and he expanded IRI’s reach not only deeper into the Greek market, but also to shipowners in Italy, Cyprus, Turkey, Monaco, and the Black Sea region. In late 2000s Theo had grown into a worldwide role and was promoted to Director, Worldwide Business Operations in 2015. At that time, the RMI Registry had grown into one of the largest registries in the world and had become the foreign flag of choice for Greek shipowners.
Change has been a driver of innovation in the industry. Looking ahead, Theo expects the pace of change to accelerate.
“COVID is a game changer,” he said. “But difficult times foster innovative thinking. We’re making significant leaps in technology and cutting-edge tools because of the COVID-19 challenges. In December 2019, the thought of remote inspections was not even on the radar. Yet one short year later, we have completed more than 900 remote inspections.”
“Technology serves to support Registry activities and technical services,” Theo continued. “We are very happy to be able to support clients in new ways to meet their needs and support their operations. The collaborative relationships between shipyards, owners, operators, and Class and flag States are facilitating this new thinking in the face of COVID-19. I think we are at the dawn of a new age of advanced technology. We will probably see things in the upcoming years in the areas of sustainability and fuel that we can’t even imagine today.”
Theo finds it inevitable, due to the upcoming regulations, to see innovation and technological changes in all aspects of the industry, from advanced ship designs and retrofit solutions that reduce the consumption of fuel to alternative fuels and new solutions and resources.
“COVID-19 has really created an opportunity to foster innovative thinking. I can’t predict how widespread this jump in technology and innovation will impact our industry, but there is a lot of opportunity right now for us to jump ahead.”
One thing that hasn’t changed in his 20 years with IRI is the consistent team-focused culture of customer service, quality, integrity and safety.
“Our people are with us long-term because we respect their abilities, personalities and knowledge, and give them autonomy,” Theo said. “They have the opportunity to exercise their power to support our clients, resulting in the highest level of client service, and a highly satisfied and empowered Registry team.”
IRI’s culture of teamwork and collaboration is part of Theo’s success.
“Theo is always focused on supporting others and on getting the job done right,” said Bill Gallagher, President of IRI. “He’s a visionary, not only in his forward-thinking outlook, but also in the way he collaborates and includes others. He brings them along with him.”