The global movement for gender equality and women’s empowerment has broken new ground in recent years, making headlines in all sectors and in maritime industry as well. Implementing strategies and initiatives that enable the industry to embrace the gender diversity is critical nowadays more than ever!
This year, IMO called on everyone in the maritime world and beyond to get onboard, dedicating the World Maritime Day to ‘Empowering Women in the Maritime Community’ as the powerful theme day declared, supporting at the same time the UN SDG 5 which aims to ‘ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.’
On the occasion, the hashtag #IAmOnBoard was centered on social media on June 25th while also on September 26th when the celebration of WMD took place, many organizations showed once again that they are at the forefront as they actually support female employment through many ways and initiatives.
In this context, our special column ‘Career Paths’ gives voice equally to male and female industry experts to present briefly an overview of their personal path towards their goals and objectives and serve as a reference to our audience for an ideal career in maritime industry.
Since this year is dedicated to women in shipping, it is worth outlining how a maritime career is perceived by female icons who have contributed to our column, giving their advice to young women who want to join this ‘male- dominated industry’ and make the difference.
Mrs. Dorothea Ioannou, Managing Director (Greece) and Global Business Development Director, The American Club, explains how she realised that shipping industry is the best choice for a challenging career and personal advancement. She further mentions that, along with her current responsibilites, the opportunity to create the next talent pool of marine insurance professionals is equaly rewarding.
‘’First, be kind! Second, be generous! Third, always take one step at a time when looking for “what’s next”!’’ Mrs Ioannou stated.
Mrs. Karin Orsel, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), MF Shipping Group notes that industry needs a different approach on issues related to Human Element, both onboard and ashore. Although she joined the shipping industry by coincidence, she would love to do it all over again; with the same steps and mistakes because learning from failure is a key to success, she explains.
‘’Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistence.’’ Ms Orsel noted.
Although she started her career in industry by coincidence, Mrs. Lena Göthberg, the producer of Shipping Podcast since 2015 admits that shipping has gained her interest due to its people, the international business environment and its global reach. However, she would expect shipping to become more confident and she further advises to always listen to people and learn from their mistakes.
‘’I love the maritime industry because of the people, the international business environment and the global reach.’’ Mrs. Göthberg commented.
Mrs. Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, joint Chief Executive Officer of TOTOTHEO MARITIME and also President of WISTA International, shares one of the best advice she has ever received which has helped her since the beginning of her career, while when someone once told her to ‘give it up’ she refused to take these words into consideration. To the opposite, ‘be ambitious, decide what you want to do and pursue it’, are worthwhile beliefs. Moreover, given that shipping is heading towards a smarter era, Mrs. Theodosiou hopes for the industry to change attitude and start realizing that technology is not an enemy.
‘’Opportunities don’t happen, you create them’’ Mrs. Theodosiou said.
Mrs. Annette Stube, the Head of Sustainability at A.P. Moller- Maersk, explains why sustainability reaps tangible benefits for an organization. Having a 20-year experience with corporate sustainability and being influenced by the Head of Sustainability and Innovation at Nike, Mrs. Stube is feeling very privileged to work with Maersk, due to its ‘vast reach and strong leadership mindset’.
‘Get the right people on the bus’, meaning hire the right people with strong personal competencies (in my view: Intelligence, Integrity and Energy) rather than people fitting the job description exactly.’ is one of the best advices that Mrs. Annette Stube has ever heard.
Jenny N. Braat, the Managing Director of Danish Maritime, advises us to identify which education really suits to each individual to accomplish much more and avoid making decisions without thinking about the future. For the maritime industry, she would like to see a change in perception; collaboration and responsibility are needed toward industry’s rapid developments.
‘’Don’t only follow your heart you also need to let your mind have an influence on your future choices.’’ Mrs. Braat argued.
Mrs. Carleen Lyden Walker, who has a dynamic presence in the industry and an outstanding career, receiving recognition for her active role in NAMEPA toward a sustainable marine environment, gives credits to three important and influential mentors in her professional life while she mentions that she always thrives on change and innovation. Finally, she inspire us with a quote by Woody Allen which says that ‘80% of success in life is showing up’, to highlight that in both business and life, it is important for everyone to show up; however, given that we only have one reputation to lose, we must behave with integrity.
‘’Ignore people who try to limit you in what you want to accomplish. If it feels right, and is for the right reasons, persevere!’’ Mrs. Walker suggested.
Mrs Kjersti Kleven, co-owner and Chair of the Board of the Norwegian shipbuilding group KLEVEN, explains that it was destiny to follow this career thanks to a strong family-background in shipbuilding. Being also chair of SEA Europe, she has the opportunity to meet qualified and interesting people and voice her arguments on the importance of maritime technology industry for Europe. Mrs Kleven notes that there is need for a closer cooperation between the shipowners and the maritime technology sector, considering that many rapid technological developments have made their appearance which are important for facing global competition and keeping maritime competence in Europe.
‘’Listen to the feedback you get from people you trust and use them as mentors”. Mrs Kleven advised.
Mrs. Diane Gilpin, Founder/ CEO, Smart Green Shipping Alliance (SGSA) inspires us to always invest in our curiosity and dedicate time to listening without judgement and building strong relationships. Mrs Gilpin has an outstanding career in innovation and systems design during the last 25 years in which she was honoured to meet interesting and influential persons that played catalytic role. From launching the mobile phone network in the UK to working for several Formula One motor racing teams, she now advocates for decaronization supporting new business opportunities as a Founder of Smart Green Shipping Alliance.
‘’I continually invest in my curiosity – through reading, attending lectures with leading scientists, thinkers, entrepreneurs, by watching TV programmes about great engineering achievements… and learning from nature is also really inspiring.’’ Mrs. Gilpin mentioned.
Mrs. Connie Roozen, who has founded her own tax law firm, C&B More, specialized in the maritime industry, explains us how she decided to join the industry while as an active member of WISTA she advocates for diversification in shipping. Citing her own experience, Mrs. Roozen encourages us to view challenges instead of difficulties and always have confidence in ourselves. Currently there is a lot of attention on tax avoidance globally, she notes; the fiscal climate is changing and the international developments with respect to transparency in taxing profits are going to have implications in shipping industry as well.
‘’My personal motto still is everything is possible! There are no difficulties, just challenges.’’ Mr.s Roozen said.
Mrs. Silje Bareksten, Head of Sustainability and Technology at Nor-Shipping admits that she really enjoys her current role in helping to steer the shipping industry towards more socially responsible and sustainable practices. Referring to her own experience so far, working in different though challenging business environments has helped her in creating a mindset for life; on top of that, surrounding herself with people with good values has been the most important tactic. As she notes, there is need for radical changes on environment and sustainability in the shipping and ocean industries, such as international ratified treaties under maritime law that will help us transform the current landscape.
‘’I don’t have many regrets in life, but skipping great chances in life because I was afraid is top of the list.’’ Mrs. Bareksten encourages young people to think.
At the start of 2019, Mrs Suzanne Beckstoffer took the helm of SNAME (Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers) as President, being the first woman to hold this position in the association’s 125-year history. In our column, Mrs Beckstoffer further explains us how exciting an engineering career is for women, albeit the professional challenges which made her stronger and a more competent person. She also advises us on having a ‘positive can-do attitude’ in any new challenge and devoting time to learn new skills to be able to deal with new types of problems.
Sharing her experience when firstly joined industry, Mrs. Beckstoffer said ‘’The worst advice I ever got was early in my shipbuilding career. One of the fellows I worked with was none too pleased to have a woman in the office. He very pointedly told me they’d had a girl there once and had “run her off.” I guess he expected to scare me away, but obviously it didn’t work!’’
As Chief Operating Officer, Mrs. Christine Valentin, Board Member & Chief Operating Officer, World Ocean Council (WOC) travels a lot, invests time in networking and has the opportunity to showcase the leadership capacity of business in sustainability as well as to tackle with environmental and gender issues; for all these reasons, Mrs. Valentin is very excited to be part of this global, cross-sectoral ocean industry leadership alliance . Moreover, she is an active member of WISTA, highlighting that ‘improved gender balance is the key to more sustainable operations and to answering more efficiently the challenges of the 21st century’.
‘’Stay true to yourself, your values, your ethics. Be confident in what you can do and your capacity to realize your dreams and go for it!’’ Mrs. Valentin concluded for a successful career path.
Mrs. Natalie Shaw, Director of Employment Affairs, International Shipping Federation and International Chamber of Shipping who, when she first joined the industry, had the chance to work on the MLC, 2006. Mrs Shaw says that studying for her professional qualifications was a worthwhile career investment, even if it impacted negatively her social life for a short time. Also, she suggests to only focus on the important things and delegate others when necessary. Overall, it is important to ‘work to live not live to work’ she concludes, meaning that it is worth putting family, and friends first as much as possible.
‘’Go with your heart, work hard and go for the perceived unobtainable goal – someone will achieve it , why should it not be you.’’ Mrs. Shaw said.
Mrs Helle Hammer, Managing Director, Cefor – The Nordic Association of Marine Insurers, admits that working with the Nordic marine insurance market is a startling moment at her career; firstly due to the professionalism, secondly due to the international nature of the industry and lastly because she has the change to participate in discussions about safety at sea. In addition, she encourages us to be open to new opportunities, learning and have trust in our skills; this is a special advice to all those young women who aspire a career in the maritime industry, Mrs. Hammer notes.
‘’Say yes to opportunities, stay curious and believe in yourself. And ignore those whose only argument against change is ‘this is how we have also done it’. And this advice goes also to all those brilliant young women out there who wants a career in the maritime sector.’’ Mrs. Hammer stressed.
Mrs. Pia Meling, Vice President of Massterly AS, a Kongsberg Wilhelmsen joint venture, notes that shipping industry needs to be able to think differently in order to embrace more diversity and adapt faster to global trends. From her experience, she advises us to focus only on the things that we can change and never try to change other people; instead, it is better to try and change the way we interact with others. In the end, she shares her personal motto, that is ‘dance like no one is watching’ encouraging us also to consider that both life and work should be fun and also to stay true to our values.
‘’ I would like the maritime industry to embrace and encourage diversity. The industry is still very male dominated and recruiting from traditional educational and professional backgrounds.’’ Mrs. Meling pinpointed.
Mrs. Sandra Welch, who is the Chief Operating Officer of Sailors’ Society, an International charity providing a personal lifeline for merchant seafarers, finds her job truly rewarding because she directly witnesses the positive impact the work Sailors’ Society has on the lives of seafarers and their dependents. In addition to this, she loves the fact that she works with many people from different countries and nationalities and tells a few words about ‘Not On My Watch’ campaign which aims to tackle suicide and depression among seafarers. The last years, she has embraced digital technology, this has had a huge impact on the way she communicates and works; a new behavior that made her more productive and adaptable to new reality.
‘’Life is too short, so make the most of it!’’ is Mrs. Welch’s favourite motto.
Mrs. Dana Jongens, Business Development Manager Maritime, Inmarsat, says that connectivity is no longer just about communications, it is the enabler of the digital society. Mrs Jongens finds it a worthwhile investment to continuously investing in her network, considering that shipping is a global industry with a great mix of different players. Especially when you are young, you have to invest in your network, prove yourself and persevere, she notes.
‘’I would like to change the reputation of the industry and inspire younger generations to see the emerging opportunities the industry has, like digitalization, cyber, and IoT applications. Our industry needs fresh minds and skill sets.’’ Mrs. Jongens added.