20 questions with the Managing Partner, Jasmin Fichte
If there is one thing the maritime lawyer could do with, it’s more time. To read a good book, go for a quiet walk, maybe finish that PhD on wreck removal, and then there’s a golf handicap that needs some serious work.
What was your earliest memory?
I am not sure. I guess being happy playing with my mum.
Did you go through training/university or straight into work?
I knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 10, hence obviously I had to study law and sit my exams. I also studied for my Latin Legum Magister (master’s) in maritime law. I have spent about a year working on a PhD thesis on wreck removal. I still haven’t finished this one, though.
Who have been your mentors?
I am lucky to be able to say that there were many. I do not have the best of memories from my school. However, during my seats in a law firm in Hamburg I was working for a senior partner in the marine insurance department and he was very supportive, as he had three daughters my age. The professors at the University of Southampton were great and I am still in touch with Professor Charles Debattista. Finally, once I started working in Dubai I was supported and pushed by shipowners who initiated the idea that I establish my own firm specialising in maritime law, which is now the leading one in the region.
Ambition or talent, which is more important?
Ambition and talent without drive means you will get nowhere.
What would you have done if you hadn’t gone into shipping?
I guess I would have become an insurance lawyer.
What is your biggest extravagance?
Spending time on me! The one thing I don’t seem to have these days is time. I am always busy doing something, whether it is at work or at home. I never seem to be able to just do nothing. I would love to have the time to sit down and read a good book or go for a quiet walk with my husband, Najib. The irony of life is that when we are young we have no money but we have lots of time. As we get older it becomes the opposite.
How do you relax?
I play golf. My handicap is 26. I try to play it at least once a week.
What would you like to own that you do not possess?
More free time. I would also like to own a Tesla electric car, although I am not convinced yet that this is really better for the environment.
When are you happiest?
I am happiest when I am together with my family, or on the golf course. My daughter Sophia is the one who started me on golf, and recently my husband took it up, so it has become a family activity that we can all enjoy together.
What would you change in shipping if you could?
The human greed factor.
Is politics important to you?
Yes, of course. Shipping is a global business and politics can have a disastrous impact on it.
Which four people, living or dead, would you like to invite to dinner?
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai; former West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt; John Fredriksen; and Jochen Dohle.
What would your 20-year-old self say to you today if you met?
“Welcome to the establishment! And I don’t mean that in a positive way.”
What keeps you awake at night?
Worries about my office. Having a staff of 40 means I also have the responsibility for 40 families.
What are your favourite song, book and film?
All of these keep changing. Currently I am reading Blockchain Revolution by Don and Alex Tapscott. Films and songs vary as per my mood.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt?
You can plan things meticulously, but circumstances beyond your control can make those plans come to naught. While planning is important, don’t become bound by those plans. Sometimes it is the unexpected coincidences that bring you the best results.
What are your best and worst characteristics?
I am very demanding.That is both my best and my worst characteristic.
What is your greatest achievement so far?
Creating a work environment which I would have liked as an employee. And of course my daughter!
What has been your greatest disappointment?
I can’t say I have had any one major disappointment in my life. I have a wonderful family and a successful career. I built a law firm from scratch and it is doing very well. The only thing that really frustrates me is when things don’t work as they should.
What ambitions do you still have?
I would like to play a meaningful role in developing a maritime strategy for Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. In Germany, such strategies have been in place for a long time, so you cannot make any impact. Here it is still a work in progress, which gives you an opportunity to participate in its development. It would be nice to look back one day when it is all done and be able to say: ‘I played a role in that’. That would be a nice legacy.
The interview was taken and published by Trade Winds, The Global Shipping News Source.