In our special column this month, we are happy to host an interview with Dr. Jason Zuidema, Executive Director of the North American Maritime Ministry Association, who says that networking is key. More than ever, the pandemic opened the doors wide for collaboration and communication between maritime welfare charities, unions, governments and industry stakeholders, Dr. Zuidema notes, suggesting that same networks can be used to solve other challenges in the years ahead.
SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Jason Zuidema: In 1997, as a student, I began to work in seafarers’ welfare in Montreal. I did not come from a shipping background, so it was a learning experience to see the size and importance of the maritime industry. Since 2013, I have worked with the network of seafarers’ welfare charities in North America (NAMMA) and globally (ICMA).
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
J.Z.: Seafarers are essential to keep global commerce flowing, but are often forgotten as key workers. Especially during the pandemic, seafarers have been overlooked, finding difficulties with crew change, shore leave and vaccination. It is exciting to be able to help seafarers in large and small ways on a daily basis, despite all the challenges of the pandemic.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who’s the first person who comes to mind and why?
J.Z.: In my field, success is not always measured in major victories, but small acts of kindness. I am amazed now at all the seafarers’ welfare organizations, labour colleagues and industry officials going above and beyond the call of duty to get seafarers vaccinated. When people go the extra mile to do something out of their comfort zone or, especially, out of their job description to help someone else in the maritime industry – that is truly successful, I think.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why?
J.Z.: My colleagues over the years from the different partners working in the Montreal seafarers’ centre have been the most important influence on my work. I have learned from them the value of good planning, teamwork despite differences, and the joy of serving others.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given and why?
J.Z.: Best piece of advice: “You should apply for the job at NAMMA” (given by my former colleague Lloyd Burghart). Worst piece of advice: “You should apply for the job at _______” (given by another colleague a few years previous).
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
J.Z.: Going as far as I could with my education was the best investment. I am so thankful for the encouragement of my family and friends through those years. Even though my daily work has little to do with the topic I studied, the mental exercise and project-development experience continue to be essential.
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?
J.Z.: I love music and should have kept up my piano lessons when I was younger. I really regret that I didn’t have enough discipline to stick with it. Yet, I suppose it is still not too late to learn. Maybe my 18-year-old-self needs to encourage me to keep up the dream!
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
J.Z.: Networking is key. Whenever I learn about a new program or meet someone new, I think about who might need to know about it or meet this person. It means nothing that I know it or have a new connection if I file it away. I need to pass the connection on to someone who might need it.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
J.Z.: The pandemic has opened doors wide for collaboration and communication between maritime welfare charities, unions, governments and industry. Those same networks can be used to solve other challenges in the years ahead.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
J.Z.: Carry each other’s burdens.
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.