“Any organization that takes care of seafarers is absolutely critical today, and the Seamen’s Church Institute sits at the very top of the list, anywhere you go in the world.”
Watch the full interview with Mr. Jim Lawrence below:
Jim Lawrence, the Chairman of Marine Money & Founding Partner of the MTI Network, is a long-standing friend of SCI. He has been one of our trustees since 2008, and is tireless in his support of the organization, ever-conscious of the importance of the services SCI provides seafarers and the maritime industry.
On June 6, 2018 at a major awards ceremony attended by over 700 guests from the shipping industry and associated companies, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) presented its prestigious Silver Bell Award to Jim, in recognition of his leadership and generosity in devoting his time, talent, and philanthropy to the maritime industry. The event, held at Chelsea Piers in New York City, marked SCI’s forty-first annual Silver Bell Awards Dinner.
Jim Lawrence was a hugely popular choice as the recipient of the Silver Bell Award. His entry into the maritime industry was unusual to say the least – he didn’t attend maritime college, and one of his first positions was when the owner of the International Herald Tribune & Hockey News hired him to sell advertising for “Art in America” magazine. Jim said that this was a positive experience on two counts: he learned the art of selling as a skill, and also attended many museum and art gallery social functions, which were both enjoyable and instructive. Jim is and always has been a “people person”. He then moved on to manage Lloyd’s of London Press, in New York, the then grand publishing arm of the Lloyd’s of London insurance market and owners of Lloyd’s List, the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the world.
At that time in the early 1980s, the shipping industry was in the midst of a ten year depression, but Jim saw the counter-cyclical opportunity to get into a new area. He started Marine Money in 1987 and hasn’t looked back.
Jim says the world changed for him with the Exxon Valdez disaster, because he saw that the communications following the event were not up to standard. Jim realized that after accidents such as this one, tanker owners—even the best—need help in dealing with the press. This led him and a partner into the area of crisis management. Despite his experience in representing many companies in dire situations over the years, in the face of a crisis Jim says it’s “impossible to defend the indefensible”. If a company hasn’t invested the time or money to properly manage its operations, train its employees, or invest in equipment, no-one will be able to defend its reputation in the face of disaster. He notes, with a certain pride in the industry, that over the years a tremendous investment in safety has been and is being made by the maritime industry. The efforts to improve are constant, he says, which is why when something bad happens it’s not so difficult for companies to say, “that’s my ship”.
In his role at MTI he has also witnessed time and time again, the vital impact that SCI and its Chaplains can make to the lives of those who have suffered loss or injury, sometimes dropping everything to travel to a family’s side.
In his introductory remarks to Jim’s award, Jack Noonan (President of Binnacle Maritime), spoke of Jim’s foresight in taking a 10-page newsletter devoted to credit reporting, developing it into Marine Money as we know it today, and establishing Marine Money Week NY, the world’s premier ship finance event which is attended annually by more than 1,000 investors, ship owners, lenders, and advisors. Jack also spoke of Jim’s role as founding partner of the MTI Network, the leading incident response company for the shipping, energy, offshore and transportation industries.
Jim’s high standing in both the shipping and finance worlds, Noonan said, is not solely the result of his “vision, business acumen, and tireless work ethic” but also of his character – full of enthusiasm and optimism. “He has the rare quality of being sincerely happier with other people’s good fortune than his own, always putting other people’s interests first.” Speaking of Jim’s involvement with the Connecticut Maritime Association’s annual conference, Jack made clear Jim’s commitment to CMA’s mission: to promote and support maritime-related education through financial assistance, internships, events and activities. “Jim is generous in all ways”, he said, “- with his time, his expertise, and his energy… He has long been a mentor and role model for up and coming generations.”
In his acceptance of the award, Jim spoke warmly of his colleagues past and present, and his commitment to and admiration for the Seamen’s Church Institute. He urged those present to discuss the mission of SCI with one another, and think about new ways in which they could support the important work of the organization.