Chair Person:

Mrs. Despina Panayiotou-Theodossiou, President at WISTA International & co-CEO at Tototheo Maritime

Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou is joint CEO of TOTOTHEO MARITIME, a leading global service provider specialising in innovative, efficient, and functional solutions in the fields of digitalization, maritime satellite communications, automation, and navigation systems.

She is President of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association, an organization comprised of 54 National WISTA Associations.

She is a board member of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber, the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation and Invest Cyprus. She also sits on the Board of Governors of the Cyprus Maritime Academy and the Strategic Committee of Crans Montana – Club of Ports. In July 2020, she was elected as a Member to the General committee of the Association of SA and Limited Companies in Greece and as Head of its Shipping Sector committee.

Leading international shipping publication Lloyd’s List selected Despina as one of the Top 100 Most Influential people in shipping in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. In 2019 she was also named as the “International Personality of the Year” at the Lloyd’s List Greek Shipping Awards.

She holds degrees from the National and Capodistrian University of Athens, the Copenhagen Business School, and the University of Oxford.

Opening Remarks:

Mr. Kitack Lim, Secretary General, International Maritime Organization

Kitack Lim was elected Secretary-General of the Organization by the 114th session of the IMO Council in June 2015 for a four-year period beginning 1 January 2016. The election was endorsed by the IMO’s Assembly at its 29th session in November 2015.

At its 31st session (November-December 2019), the Assembly approved the renewal of Mr. Kitack Lim’s appointment as Secretary-General of IMO, for a second and final term of four years (1 January 2020 to 31 December 2023).

Mr. Kitack Lim (Republic of Korea) is the eighth elected Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization.

Keynote Speaker:

Mr. Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC CROCIERE

Since 2013, Gianni Onorato is MSC Cruises’ CEO. In this position, he oversees the Company’s business from its global headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, reporting to the Board of Directors and to the Executive Chairman.

With over 30 years’ experience in the cruise industry, Mr Onorato has a finely developed understanding of the cruise business and extensive experience in senior executive leadership, having served as President of Costa Cruises from 2004 to 2013.

Born in Italy, Mr Onorato graduated from Naples’ Istituto Orientale with a degree in Foreign Languages and Literature in 1983, and then specialized at SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan and INSEAD in Fontainebleau.

Mr Onorato began his career in 1986 at Costa Cruises as Food and Beverage Manager before becoming Cruise Product Director. From 1997 he served as Vice President & Cruise Operations Director and was responsible for logistics and provisioning, as well as all activities relating to calls, excursions and hotel operations.


Ms. Carole Pavaut, Managing Director, Bureau Veritas

With more than 30 years experience in the maritime sector, she is today within Bureau Veritas Group, Director of BVSolutions Marine, a subsidiary proposing independent support to client decision in engineering, supervision, Project Management Consulting.

Their main business focus concern today Energy Transition, alternative fuels, safety /cyber, and digitalization. They provide innovative services to support comparison studies, feasibility, technical advisory, yard supervision, and marine operations,  independent audit, and PMC to our clients. Carole joined BV in 2020.

Her previous experiences include SMEs and large companies, in maritime world:

  • She has been General Manager of an SME for 10 years, Engineering Company in Marine, Oil&Gas and Renewables markets providing naval architecture, Engineering and PMC services.
  • Her previous experience also includes 10 years in a major Cruise Shipyard (Chantiers de l’Atlantique in France) where I did commisionning coordination, head of engineering dept, and director of project dept.

Prior to this, Carole has also worked in SME as project manager and business devt in hydrodynamics simulations and model tests.



Mrs. Barbara Muckermann, Chief Marketing Officer, Silversea Cruises

Barbara Muckermann is Chief Marketing Officer of Silversea Cruises. Prior to returning to Silversea, Barbara held strategic marketing positions at Loro Piana and NCL and was Chief Marketing Officer of MSC. Prior to that, she worked at Silversea as SVP Global Marketing and European Sales. She has also been Chairwoman of the Reputation Committee of CLIA, managing the association’s reputation. Barbara is a Doctor in Political Sciences and Economics and holds a joint MBA from Columbia and London Business School. She also teaches Branding and Strategy.


Mr. Leslie Peden, Chief Commercial Officer, Celestyal Cruises

Leslie Peden is the chief commercial officer of Celestyal Cruises. He joined Celestyal in 2017 as president, North America and vice president of commercial. He was promoted in less than a year to the role of chief commercial officer with global responsibilities to reengineer the company’s distribution, grow brand awareness and market share, achieving year-round cruising.

Peden has more than 30 years of experience across EMEA and North America in cruising, tour operations, air and rail travel, including senior leadership roles with Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Holidays Cruises, and Island Cruises.

Prior to joining Celestyal, Peden was with the luxury Canadian rail-tour operator Rocky Mountaineer, as director of EMEA and then their largest source market the USA.


Mrs. Manuela Tomassini, Head of the Sustainability & Technical Assistance Department, European Maritime Safety Agency/EMSA

Manuela Tomassini is a lawyer by education, specialised in Maritime, EU and International Law. After her degree at the Libera Universita’ Internazionale degli Studi Sociali (LUISS) in Rome, she attended the Italian “Scuola Nazionale dell’Amministrazione”. In 1994 she joined the Safety of Navigation Division of the Italian Ministry of Transport.

She held different positions within the Department of Maritime Transport of the Ministry, with responsibilities in the fields of maritime safety, EU and International Affairs. From 2000 until 2007 she worked as Transport Attache’ at the Permanent Representation of Italy to the EU.

In September 2007 she started working in EMSA as Policy Advisor and Head of the Bureau of the Executive Director; in 2011 she was appointed Head of Department A ‘Corporate Services’. In November 2014 she was appointed Head of Department B ‘Safety and Standards’.

Since January 2020 she holds the position of Head of Department 1 ‘Sustainability & Technical Assistance’.


Ms. Maria Cano, Cruise Manager, Ports of Catalonia

Maria Cano is Cruise manager from Ports of Catalonia and Director of Marketing and Communication from MedCruise Association; she is 15 years’ experience in the maritime sector including rich experiences such as being part of the Spanish permanent representation in the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Maria, an IESE Program for Management Development student, complete its studies with several international diplomatic relationships and a shipping business law and port management master’s degrees by diverse Spanish Universities. She is a Bachelor in Law by Barcelona University (UB).


Ms. Maria Deligianni, National Director, Eastern Mediterranean, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)

Maria Deligianni is National Director, Eastern Mediterranean for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) based in Athens, Greece. She joined CLIA in March 2018 and is responsible for government and public affairs in the region.

Maria has been involved in the shipping industry since 2011. Before joining CLIA, she worked for the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) in Brussels as a Senior Advocacy and Policy Advisor on maritime safety, environmental and offshore shipping issues. Previously she spent time at the European Commission’s Director General Mobility and Transport Directorate in Brussels as well as SQE Marine Group and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC Greece) in Piraeus and Athens.

She holds an executive Master in Maritime Science (MSc) degree from the University of Ghent in Belgium as well as an MSc degree in International and European Studies from the University of Piraeus and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Administration from the University of Athens.


Mrs. Mona Bawarshi, CEO, Gezairi

Academic Background

  • Holds MBA Degree from the American University of Beirut (AUB)

Experience Summary

  • Started working in the Family Business “‘GEZAIRI Transport” in 1970.
  • CEO of “GEZAIRI Transport Group of Companies”, a network of international shipping, forwarding, courier and logistics companies spread in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Cyprus.
  • Licenced Custom broker in Lebanon.
  • Member of Lebanese Vessels’ owners committee.
  • Member of Lebanese Management Association (LMA)
  • Member of the International Air Transport Association

Social Responsibilities

  • Member of the “International College” (IC) board of trustees.
  • Member of the “Makassed Philanthropic Islamic Association” board of trustees.
  • Vice President of the “Rassemblement de Dirigeants et Chefs d’Entreprise Libanais”, (RDCL World).
  • Member of the advisory board of the “Institute of Family & Entrepreneurial Business” (IFEB), LAU.
  • Member of Advisory Board of “Adnan Kassar Business School”, LAU.
  • Member of the “Lebanese League for Women in Business” association, LLWB
  • Founding member of the “Family Business Network”, FBN – Levant.
  • Founding member of INJAZ – Lebanon.


Mr. Philippos Phillis, Vice-President at ECSA I Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, LEMISSOLER

Philippos Philis is the founder of Lemissoler and has been Managing Director since its establishment in 1996. He has been appointed as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Group since 2009. The Group is active in ship-owning, ship-management and ship commercial operations and chartering. In early 1997 he started IMCL Inter Marine Container Lines, one of the most successful container feeder operators in the Baltic Sea, which has been merged with Unifeeder at the end of 2009 creating the largest short sea and container operator in Europe.

He graduated from RWTH Aachen with the title of Dipl. Ing. in Mechanical Engineering and he is a Harvard Business School (HBS) alum. He Chairs the Board of Directors of the Cyprus Shipowners’ Employers Association (CySEA) and is an elected member of American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and member of the DNV GL Cyprus Committee. He served as Vice-President at the Board of Directors of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber (CSC), as a member of the Board of Directors of the European Communities Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and a member of the Board of Directors of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of USB Bank.


Mrs. Sadan Kaptanoglu, Immediate past President at BIMCO I Owner and Managing Director of Kaptanoglu Shipping

Dr. Sadan Kaptanoglu is a shipowner and a shipyard owner. She is chief executive officer of Kaptanoglu Shipping. She completed her Phd in De Montfort University after she graduated from Cass Business School, MSC Shipping,Finance and Trade.

Sadan Kaptanoglu was  the first woman President of BIMCO. Sadan Kaptanoglu is the chairperson of TURMEPA and vice president of INTERMEPA. She is vice chairperson of Turkish Chamber of Shipping as well. Sadan is the first winner of Seatrade young person of the year award in 2008. She is married, has two daughters.


Mr. Spyros Tarassis, Vice-Chairman at INTERCARGO I General Manager at Olympic Vision Maritime Co Inc

Spyridon Tarasis is the General Manager of Olympic Vision Maritime. From 2010 to 2016, he held the position of Deputy Technical manager of Springfield Shipping. Spyros joined the Onassis Shipping Group in 1999 as a superintendent engineer with a previous 9 years’ experience in the shipping and oil industry. He was born and raised in Athens and holds a BSc degree in Mechanical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens. He is a member of TEE, SNAME and ABS, LR, DNV-GL Technical Committees. On Oct 2018 he was elected and he is still active as the Vice Chairman of Intercargo.


Ms. Valeria Mangiarotti, Senior Vice President, Director of Sustainability and Environmental Issues, MedCruise

Marketing Manager – ADSP “Autorità di Sistema Portuale del Mare di Sardegna”( Port Network Authority of the Sardinian Sea). Valeria started her professional career in Port of Cagliari in 2002 and first was a lawyer in legal office in Milan. She involved in the cruise industry in 2004. She holds a degree in law from the Catholic University of Milan Italy. she became a lawyer in 1992 in the Court of Appeal of Milan.  She attended a master in common law at London school of economic London. UK

She was a vice president  of MedCruise, the Association of the Mediterranean Cruise ports  between 2005 and 2008; she was in a board of MEDCRUISE like a director of environment from 2008- 2011. From 2013 she has a delegate for environment from MedCruise. From October 2017 she is the Director sustainability/ environmental issue of the Board of MedCruise, from October 2020 is Senior Vice president of MedCruise. She collaborated with The Maritime Economist (MEMag). It’s a scientific magazine by IAME (International Association Maritime Economist), that is the owner and publisher see http://www.mar-economists.org/MEMag/index.htm). She wrote an article entitled “European Environmental Laws: Some Considerations for Mediterranean Cruise Ports published on The Maritime Economist”

She attended in many international environmental conferences as a speaker and in particular in the last Green Port events as delegated of MedCruise for these years: 2014-2015-2016-2017-2018. From November 2018 she represents Assoporti and MedCruise in the executive Committee Sustainable Development of ESPO. From February 2019 is nominated from the Director of Directorate – General for Mobility and Transport European Commission a member of the commission’s expert group ports called “Sub group of Sustainable ports”.

She was speaker (7-8 June 2017) (12-13 June 2019) at the event “European Environmental ports Conference 2017” , “European Environmental ports Conference 2019”  in Antwerp Belgium. 0n 21 may 2019 she held a lecture at the University of Antwerp -Maritime Academy on cruise’s market environmental legal aspect of European Directives. On 6 December 2019 she was speaker at the 20th CWC Annual World LNG Summit & Awards Evening.On 16 February 2020 she was a speaker at the Small Scale LNg summit in Milan. On 26 June 2020 she was a moderator at the BS group live webinar ”Mediterranean shipping summit”

Valeria is in charge of the Port Network Authority of the Sardinian sea she is marketing manager she is responsible for leading the marketing activities of the Sardinian Ports while giving support to the expansion of  Port Network Authority of the Sardinian Sea. From the 2013 she is a member of the board of the Bank of Italy


Mr. Vasilis Bacolitsas, Chairman at the Hellenic Mediterranean Panel (HMP) of INTERTANKO I Director, Sea Pioneer Shipping Corporation

Vasilis Bacolitsas was born in Athens in 1971, into a shipping family that dates back to 1969,when his father set up his first shipping company together with a partner of his.Vasilis finished high school there in 1988.He graduated from Queen Mary College (London) in 1992 with a BSc in Economics and has since  worked for Sea Pioneer Shipping Corporation(the dry cargo shipping firm).Vasilis was instrumental in setting up Pioneer Tankers Shipping Corporation in 1995,that managed product and crude tankers.  The two management companies merged in 2010 and today Sea Pioneer Shipping Corporation manages both the drybulk and tanker tonnage. Vasilis has always been responsible for all commercial aspects of the company,namely being in charge of all chartering activities and sale and purchase transactions.

Apart from chartering and sale and purchase,Vasilis handles all insurance related matters,whether for the Hull and Machinery policies or for the Protection and Indemnity cover.Vasilis was a Board member of the American P+I Club for 10 years and is also a regular speaker on P+I related issues at various insurance conferences. He currently sits on the Board(Advisory Council) of the West P+I Club. Vasilis is also a member of the Cayman Islands Shipowners Advisory Council(CISAC) and is also the Chairman of the Hellenic Mediterannean Panel(HMP) of Intertanko since 2015,having served in that position for 3 consecutive terms..Under his leadership the HMP has added 27 new member companies and around 26 mill dwt of new tonnage over the past 6 years.

Apart from Shipping, Vasilis handles all real estate matters for his family, including commercial real estate holdings in the US, residential real estate holdings in Greece and the UK,as well as in Romania. Finally Vasilis has personally invested in more than 12 technology start ups since 1999,mainly in the US , Israel and Greece. He currently sits on the Board of one of the oldest and most successful shipping technology companies. Vasilis also currently sits on the Board of the fastest growing Greek prime food distribution company in the UK and the Middle East,and is also a Board member of the UK’s most successful Jackup Barge business,handling port infrastructure projects in the UK and Europe. Finally, Vasilis is the anchor investor in the sole Greek LNG bunkering company.

Last but not least through the family’s charitable Foundation Vasils oversees all of the Foundation’s charitable work in Greece and abroad.


2023 WISTA International AGM & Conference

This year’s WISTA International AGM & Conference will be celebrated in Montevideo, from 25th until 27th October 2023, in the beautiful capital city of Uruguay, which will […]

See all upcoming events


WISTA – ICS Scholarships 2023 – 2024

It is with great pleasure that we announce, for a consecutive seventh year, the collaboration between WISTA International and the Institute of Chartering Shipbrokers UK.  Our common […]

WISTA International Environmental Committee Call for Action on Ocean Day

On 8th June this year, the United Nations announced World Oceans Day. In honor of this, the WISTA International Environmental Committee called for action among all our […]

Global Gender Gap Report – WEF

According to the latest report by the World Economic Forum achieving global gender parity is now projected to take 131 years. To put this timeline in perspective, it spans […]

Read all news


WISTA has 3,800+ members and 56 National WISTA Associations (NWAs).


WISTA has 3,800+ members and 56 National WISTA Associations (NWAs).

Copyright WISTA International 2020. All Rights Reserved. | Privacy Policy