We recently spoke to Punit Oza (MSc Shipping, Trade and Finance, 1999) about becoming CEO of new business entity ‘Wiz Bulk’, his time studying at Bayes and his role as an Alumni Ambassador in Singapore.
Congratulations on becoming the CEO of Wiz Bulk! Please tell us all about it and what you hope to achieve in this position.
Wiz is one of the dynamic success stories that has brought greater transparency to the container freight solutions and in fact, the entire supply chain through technology and automation. Wiz Bulk shares the same vision for the bulk shipping industry – to simplify the bulk shipping industry through technology and automation! We aim to bring greater transparency and ease of doing business to an industry sector which is currently fragmented and opaque. One seldom gets a chance to build something from scratch and build a solution as well as the team that makes the solution happen. So, I am very excited about this opportunity.
We know that you are very passionate about commercial shipping, digital transformation, and mentoring. How did your time studying at Bayes form these interests and develop your skills in these areas?
When I started the MSc in Shipping, Trade and Finance in 1997 at the then City University Business School (CUBS), now Bayes, I had already completed my Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) Qualifying Examinations and worked in commercial shipping operations for four years at Precious Shipping, Bangkok. This had cemented my interest in pursuing a career in shipping. The course broadened my knowledge base, gave me tremendous exposure through the resident and guest faculty and established lifelong networks and relationships. Digital transformation was not on the agenda at the time, but a dotcom boom was in full flow. So, a foundation was already laid during the course. Mentoring is a passion and a mindset which has developed over the years through the influence of my professors, seniors, and colleagues in this amazing industry.
Looking back, why did you choose Bayes Business School to study MSc Shipping, Trade and Finance?
Simple answer – it is the best post-graduate course in the shipping industry! Once I had decided to pursue a career in the industry, I wanted to acquire the latest knowledge from the best of industry and academic professionals and get access and build networks with the current and future leaders of the industry. Bayes was the obvious choice.
Do you have any standout memories from your time at Bayes?
One of the best memories that I have involves the true spirit of collaboration and relationships that underline the industry. I was in the final stages of my course and for my dissertation, I had chosen to research on the “Future of Shipbroking” given that the dotcom boom was threatening its future. Not only did I get the support from my professor, Philip Wood, who went on to become a close friend in future, but I was also pleasantly surprised that the Head of the Centre, Prof. Grammenos, took me along to a Baltic Exchange seminar on the same topic and recommended me to Baltic Exchange, who supported and published the results of my survey in their in-house magazine. I witnessed first-hand the value of networks, relationships, and camaraderie in the industry. That experience has forever remained etched in my memory.
You’re a very active Alumni Ambassador in Singapore. What do you enjoy most about the role and what can alumni in the region expect when they connect with you?
I was born and brought up in India and have studied in London and worked extensively in Bangkok, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore soaking up various cultures. Singapore is a perfect melting pot of cultures and I have worked and lived in Singapore since 2006 and became a Singaporean in 2013. I believe cultural receptiveness helps me as an Alumni Ambassador, a role that I thoroughly enjoy. The Alumni Ambassadors play a very crucial role. While modern technology and communication has made the world smaller, compact and accessible, it is all about that first key step.
After putting in all that hard work and effort, the graduates have secured their qualification and hopefully a new position. Exciting it may be, but they are still going to need to find their network and relationships in this new world. The best place is to start with familiar people, who can relate to your college experience as well as share their experience with them on the smallest of details like “which drinking hole is the best in town” to the larger value additions like “which alumni can assist in their future growth and prospects”. It is a solution where everyone benefits as in this world of musical chairs and inter-dependency, the Alumni Ambassadors also benefit from younger and fresh viewpoints. Think of us as the custodians of the experience we have gained from other alumni, which we can share with them, adding our own experience to make it even richer. See you in Singapore!
What advice would you give to others looking to follow in your footsteps?
The best advice is to share one’s own life lessons and values. Three values which have stood me through thick and thin are honesty, hard work and curiosity. Honesty truly rewards you in life and you can look at yourself in the mirror with your head held high and sleep peacefully at night. Hard work is a mix of passion, effort and motivation – a three-fold power pack that drives you forward. Never lose those! And finally, curiosity is the sign of a lifelong learner that keeps you fresh, current and agile. I am still acquiring new skills in digital transformation even at this stage of my life. I wish all of you all the best and hope to meet you in near future.
Thank you to Punit for sharing your inspirational story!