Claude Maillot


I came to the world of shipping by way of beauty and wreckage. I was 11 when the Torrey Canyon oil tanker, carrying 110,000 tons of crude oil, was shipwrecked off the Western coast of Cornwall, and as the oil spill quickly spread to Brittany’s stunning Côte de Granit Rose (Côtes d’Armor), my childhood playground, sorrow and disbelief washed over me.

Sorrow for the irreparable environmental devastation, and disbelief that not more had been done to prevent such an accident from happening. Right then I think I knew already that I wanted to devote my life to reducing the likelihood of such accidents ever happening again. And call it fate or happy coincidence but, after a brief stint in the merchant navy, I started my career at Bureau Veritas the same year that MARPOL – the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships – entered into force.

In fact, my first assignment was to train BV’s international experts on how to enforce MARPOL. In hindsight, this was for me an auspicious start: from the beginning, I not only made my humble contribution to upholding standards that were in line with my core values, but I was also immediately exposed to the international character of BV.

Claude Maillot

Today, over thirty years later, I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to work for a company that provided me with the right framework to realize my ambitions and travel all over the world. Of course, I have witnessed many changes throughout my career at BV, in particular the whirlwind of new technologies – from telex, to fax, to personal computers all the way to Wi-Fi and smartphones – that have significantly increased the pace of our business: exchanges are almost instantaneous and data flows constant.

Yet I think those who perceive these changes only from a negative standpoint are mistaken. Thanks to these technologies, BV surveyors are more accurate than ever before in their assessments, and the time it saves them also saves lives and protects the environment – the faster we get to a problem, the more likely we are to prevent accidents.

And perhaps even just as importantly, these communication technologies have contributed to strengthening the tight community of BV employees even as the company has continued to grow across the world. So as I get closer to retirement, I think this is the key message I want to share with my fellow colleagues: BV is only as strong as the bond between its people. What unites us all is the opportunity to work for a company whose missions and values reflect ours, and as the hustle and bustle of modern life carries us through our daily routines, we must never forget this.