Karine highlights that although many remarkable initiatives have been developed to change the traditionally male-dominated sector more needs to be done with regards to diversity. In any case, a good advice she shares is to always listen to you instinct and surround yourself with kind and smart people.
SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Karine Langlois: I joined IMO through the UN ranks. IMO is my fourth United Nations organization. I previously worked for the UN atomic energy agency (IAEA), focusing on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the UN agency fighting against drugs and crime and human trafficking (UNODC), the UN industrial development agency (UNIDO) always in the capacity of a communications officer. But I always had a soft spot for the maritime world, having grown up by the sea in Quebec, so working for the UN maritime agency felt like a great fit.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
K.L.: Working for IMO’s media and communications section calls for a lot of creativity, because of both our mandate and our small size. It makes for a very diverse portfolio of tasks. Whether it is to produce a film, manage a campaign paying tribute to seafarers or analyzing our social media performance, my role is far from mundane - and very fast paced. I enjoy working with my colleagues very much on developing the best possible communications output. Our annual Day of the Seafarer campaign is another important project for me. I find it quite emotional trying to get the world to realize how much we rely on seafarers and what a hard yet fantastic vocation theirs can be.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who's the first person who comes to mind and why?
K.L.: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she is an absolute source of inspiration for me, fought the odds and came out successful and paved the way for so many women around the world. She is shrewd, witty and incredibly wise.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why ?
K.L.: My current boss, Lee Adamson, he is such a great mentor in a non-obvious way. I learn a lot by simply working with him. Working by his side has added a lot of value to my professional life. He is a very talented writer and speaks so eloquently, it’s very inspiring. And outside my circle, I really admire Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens, his mind is so incredibly fascinating, he is clever, soft spoken but impactful.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you've ever been given and why?
K.L.: Best piece of advice is simply to think outside the box when you think you got the solution, think again from a completely different angle.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
K.L.: Moving to London. It’s the most effervescent centre for anyone’s professional life, filled with incredibly creative people.
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?
K.L.: Listen to your instinct, learn from the people that inspire you and emulate that in your own way. Surround yourself with kind and smart people.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
K.L.: I think that this pandemic we are going through is going to redefine the way we do things, especially working remotely and harnessing technology to achieve good productivity with better time management.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
K.L.: I think that in the last 10 years the maritime industry has already changed quite a lot. From a transparency point of view, it is opening up but it needs to keep that trend. Secondly, I would like to see the traditionally male-dominated sector become more inclusive. IMO is working really hard at it through its gender programme but a lot more needs to be done. But I do see a lot of inspiring initiatives happening around the world and that gives me hope.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
K.L.: Be kind, passionate, lead by example and don’t take yourself too seriously
About Karine Langlois, Communications Officer, IMO
Karine Langlois has been working for the United Nations for nearly 15 years. She is now holding the role of Communications Officer at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) where she manages social media channels, runs global campaigns and produces audio-visual material. Fluent in four languages, Karine graduated from l’Institut des Hautes Etudes internationals de l`Université Laval de Québec, majoring in international law and economy; she also holds a Bachelor of communications from Concordia University in Montréal. When Karine joined IMO in 2011, she established a strong social media presence for IMO and harnessed the power of audio-visual material to promote the work of the Organization. For example, she produced a variety of films showing how the IMO Women in Maritime programme helps promote the integration of women in the ports and maritime sectors. She also led the transformation and modernisation of the whole information sharing strategy of IMO.