In our special column this month, we are glad to host an interview with Debra DiCianna, Senior Compliance Engineer, Choice Ballast Solutions, who would like to see more women in the maritime landscape in decision making positions at IMO and with Administrations.
haring her personal story, she considers as a worthwhile career investment the time she dedicated in researching new topics and areas – that action made her an expert in the field of ballast water management – and she advises us to always believe in ourselves and trust our intuition.
S4S: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Debra DiCianna: My career started at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). My family was moving, and a colleague asked if I wanted to be a part of a new joint project with the USEPA, U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard. The project was very exciting, and it transitioned into support of the U.S. Coast Guard and then into commercial shipping.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
DDC: In a few career positions, my role has been helping shipowners understand the regulatory requirements and finding solutions. I love participating at the IMO MEPC meetings and interacting with the delegates to gain their perspective on issues and solutions, and then informing clients on the challenges ahead and possible solutions. I also like the challenge of discussing issues with regulatory bodies (i.e., USCG, USEPA) to help them understand actual ship operations, such that regulations achieve their intent but with minimum burden to the shipping community.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why?
DDC: Kathy Metcalf. Early in my shipping career, Kathy asked for me to present technical information to the Chamber of Shipping of America. We have continued to work together on many shipping issues over the past twenty years. She has been a role model to women in the shipping industry and has given me excellent guidance and support in my career.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given and why?
DDC: The best piece of advice was to know when and how to speak up on issues/problems. Do not be shy of speaking out but monitor the audience and look for the appropriate time to bring up the points or issues. The worst piece of advice was wait to ask for what you want. There’s a fine line between the two. Understanding the difference allows one to achieve what is best for themselves.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
DDC: The most worthwhile career investment was the investment of my personal time in researching new topics and areas. About 20 years ago, I thought ballast water management would an interesting challenge for shipowners and regulators. I researched the issues and technologies on my personal time. Over time, I became an expert on certain topics that resulted in many career high points.
S4S: If you could give a piece of advice to your 18-year-old-self one thing, what would it be and why?What piece of advice should you ignore?
DDC: I would tell myself to believe in yourself and that you can be whatever you want as long you apply yourself and trust your intuition – don’t doubt yourself. Ignore any advice that places limits on what you could be or where you could be working.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
DDC: In the past five years, I have learned to set boundaries in my workday and work life. I have clients around the globe and was always eager to respond quickly. I have learned that I can set boundaries in my workhours and still keep clients well satisfied.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
DDC: I would like to see more women in the maritime landscape in decision making positions at IMO and with Administrations. When attending MEPC meetings, most Administrations and leading forces are men. The number of women is significantly lower than even the number of women in shipping.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
DDC: Stay calm and carry on. It will come.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.