Synergy Marine Group founder Rajesh Unni says his decision to step down as chief executive could have been a very difficult one if not for the faith he has in his colleagues.

The leader of the Singapore ship manager will become executive chairman, while Mathavan Subbiah will be CEO overseeing IT, legal and financial operations among other things, and two co-CEOs will run the ship management business.

“Over the last couple of years following Synergy’s growth story, I’ve been intently contemplating my personal aspirations and priorities for Synergy and every reflection of mine was leading me to only one conclusion: to make succession planning a top priority and develop leaders who would play a key role in leading the organisation through the next wave of transformation,” Unni said.

The founder explained the company has been “my life, my family and my purpose”.

“When you care for something so deeply it could have become difficult to let go of active day-to-day operations. But for me it was not the case,” he added.

“This is because I was handing it to the most capable people in the team who cared about the organisation as intensely and passionately and whose dreams and goals were aligned completely with the vision of the organisation. Therefore, I know that I will derive the greatest joy in guiding them and watching them as they take the organisation to new levels of impact and growth,” the CEO said.

Unni explained his new role will give him the time to focus on what he truly loves: “Dreaming bigger and advising on long-term strategy, triggering innovation, forging partnerships, and nurturing ideas and mentoring exceptional talent, all of which is deeply energising and fulfilling for me.”

He also wants to spend more time on what he calls his “heart’s calling”.

This he describes as work in the “social space”, addressing some critical issues like widened inequality, marginalisation and the need for large-scale sustainable rural businesses.

Breaking with shipping tradition

“Championing social impact partnering with change leaders is a priority that I would like to pursue in the coming future,” Unni said.

He called the new leadership structure one of his proudest milestones, breaking with a shipping tradition of handing over the reins to family members.

“Our proclamation to the world is that anyone who joins Synergy, walks with us and puts their heart and mind into building this organisation has an opportunity to lead it in the future,” he said.

“In doing so we have tried to break the glass ceiling and made the senior-most role in the organisation accessible to all those who by their sheer capability can lead the organisation in its future waves,” he added.