In our special column this month, we are glad to host an interview with Mrs. Heidi Heseltine, CEO, Halcyon Recruitment & Co-founder, Diversity Study Group who notes that the maritime industry is experiencing an exciting time of change with technological developments and ever-increasing emphasis on its people.
s a trend emerging through the pandemic, she found that virtual meetings had a significant impact, helping her to consult with clients in a positive and personal way without time consuming travel and at the same time motivating her to keep her house tidy! When it comes to diversity, she explains that it has nothing to do with female empowerment only; it is much more than that and hence business leaders shoul get behind it wholeheartedly rather than scratching at the surface.
SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Heidi Heseltine: My first full time job was in shipping with Euronav. I joined as they required a fluent French speaking receptionist and I progressed quickly into vessel operations. After 12 years in operations and quality assurance, the lack of commercial opportunities available to me at the time led me to move into maritime recruitment. I acquired Halcyon in 2008 and within the last two years I’ve used that platform to establish the Diversity Study Group, again specifically for the shipping and maritime industry.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
H.H.: The maritime industry is experiencing an exciting time of change with technological developments and ever-increasing emphasis on its people. What excites me is the potential to support the sector in becoming more visible and accessible than it has been previously, identifying and nurturing diverse talent, both in terms of demographic and thought.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who’s the first person who comes to mind and why?
H.H.: I’ve spent a long time on this question! The answer is no one person because there are different ways to interpret success. There are many heads of business who spring to mind, political leaders and people who have overcome adversity and hardship. Then there are the men and women I encounter every day who are extremely successful in their day to day lives, excelling at work, inspiring their colleagues and being a present and active member of their families and community at home.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why ?
H.H.: My grandmother. She had a zest for life that was inspirational, a smile that would light up a room and a positive and resilient attitude. When I made mistakes, she encouraged me to learn from them but to look forward and believe that if you want something enough and are prepared to work for it, you can make it happen.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given and why?
H.H.: The best piece of advice was to believe in myself. It is really clichéd but one that I have definitely needed to hear over the years! I’m not sure about the worst piece of advice because I think that, even if I may disagree with it, the person giving it is taking their time to give me a considered opinion so I tend to think of it as alternative rather than bad.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
H.H.: The investment in my business which spans energy, time and money! It’s provided me with the opportunity to work with an incredible team, to develop my own skillset, to broaden my knowledge of the industry and meet some amazing people, to tailor plans to help organisations reach their objectives whilst knowing the challenges they face, to help individuals on their career paths and has also given me the ability to be present as a parent at the same time.
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?
H.H: It would be that things will get better. I had to leave home at 16 years old and whilst I worked or studied throughout, it took me a few years to find my feet. Advice I would ignore (and did) is not to have my own company – concerns were expressed to me because of perceived risk, and I can’t say they weren’t valid but I’ve had Halcyon since 2008 and I’ve never once regretted it.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
H.H.: The move to virtual meetings has had a significant impact. Whilst I look forward to a return to face to face meetings, the overnight change to virtual meetings has allowed myself and my colleagues to consult with clients in a positive and personal way but without the often time consuming travel. It has also motivated me to keep my home office much more tidy!
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
H.H: I’d like for everyone to understand the meaning and value of diversity and inclusion but more than anything for business leaders to get behind it wholeheartedly rather than scratching at the surface. Too many people think it’s about female empowerment and it’s not, it’s so much more. The case studies we see from those who are taking a more open-minded approach and ripping up some of the old rule books are inspiring from a strategic business viewpoint as well as from an employee perspective.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
H.H.: Live in the moment, plan for the future, have no regrets.
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.