Semiramis Paliou, Diana Shipping’s chief executive since her father, company founder Simeon Palios, relinquished the role in February, has two goals for the bulker owner.
The shipping veteran aims to honour the company’s strong success under her father while ensuring that it keeps pace with the ever-changing evolution of new technologies and regulations.
“I feel that I have a strong duty to protect and endorse the legacy of the company,” Paliou said on Wednesday in an interview with DNB Markets chief executive Theodore Jadick at Capital Link’s New York Maritime Forum.
“The company has a strong name and so does my father. At the same time, I feel I need to make the changes in order to move forward, so it’s always a fine line between making changes and staying in the past.”
Changes made under her leadership include spinning off OceanPal in the US to own and operate three older Diana bulkers, and acquiring all nine of Sea Trade Holdings’ ultramaxes for $330m in August.
She said one of her biggest challenges is being a female chief executive in an industry that has been run by men for generations.
“It has to do, really, with the father figures that are leading a number of the big shipping companies,” she said.
“They are really reluctant to let control and hand that responsibility to the younger generation and to me.”
Paliou recalled working as a trainee alongside a male ship surveyor many years ago when a male captain questioned why a woman was on his ship.
“I said to him, ‘My name is Semiramis, I am Greek and I am here to help him’,” she said.
“It’s a fun story that I like to say once in a while.”
But she said she has proved herself as an industry leader, thanks to working in shipping for a quarter of a century before taking the helm at Diana Shipping.
“My father has stepped aside and still remains chairman of the company but still has endorsed the changes that I want to bring about and understands that the company needs to remain current and progressive,” she said.
“It’s a very huge responsibility.”
Paliou has been a director of Diana Shipping since March 2015 and chief operating officer since August 2018.
She was given the added role of deputy chief executive in 2019 and also served as chief operating officer of sister company Diana Containerships, which later became tanker owner Performance Shipping, from November 2018 to February 2020.
Paliou began her career in shipping in 1996 as a trainee ship surveyor for Lloyd’s Register.
She later served as Diana Shipping Services’ head of operations, technical and crew department and became its vice-president.
Paliou welcomes the challenges facing Diana Shipping and the industry, which include adhering to sweeping environmental regulations and being accountable to investors on environmental stewardship, social responsibility and governance.
“We have a saying in Greece: the good captain proves his capabilities in a storm,” she said. “We are entering all of these changes. I’m confident that we are on the right track.”
This story has been amended to reflect the correct gender of the captain