5 Women Making Waves in Shipping And Maritime

Women in Shipping

A McKinsey study tells us that: “Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” Promoting female recruitment in industry is good business. We take a look at five women in the worlds of shipping and maritime who are living proof of this  – and are bringing much needed innovation to their organizations.

Have an idea for more women in shipping that you’d like to see profiled in future posts? Please post a comment or Tweet to us at @KNectMaritime!

“The guys in the office convinced me to join WISTA”

Hannah van Hemmen is a surveyor and environmental analyst at Martin, Ottaway, van Hemmen & Dolan, Inc. Just in her mid-20s, she already has several years of experience under her belt with a Master’s degree in systems engineering, almost 4 years at her current role, and time spent as a Parliamentary liason at the UK House of Commons and Globe International for international environmental policy development. Her LinkedIn bio describes her skills as: “data analysis, forensics, environmental policy and technologies, project management, game theory and problem solving.” With technical skills, digital savvy and a passion for innovation – van Hemmen is living proof of why recruiting is sound business practice.

Shipping Podcast’s Lena Göthberg asked van Hemmen how she got into the shipping industry: “It tends to either be an accident or family. In my case it’s family, my dad is a marine engineer, my brother is a marine engineer, my grandfather was a marine engineer, my great grandfather was.” Göthberg then asked van Hemmen if there were many women in her workplace, and the answer was not surprising. “I am the first non-administrative female in my company and my company was founded in 1875, it’s actually why I find WISTA to be such a useful organization for me, I have all male mentors who are wonderful. And I’m lucky because my father is one of my mentors as well. But it’s different to approach the job from a female perspective, especially when you’re boarding a ship that has crew that may or may not have seen a woman in this capacity. I think there’s a different approach you have to take and it’s been very useful for me to see the women in WISTA (Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association, a networking and support group) how they function, the way they carry themselves is very sort of empowering – because that’s not something I am exposed to in my daily work.”

When Göthberg asked van Hemmen why she joined WISTA, the answer was actually quite surprising! “I was a reluctant member to join WISTA, because I always subscribe to the idea that women can do whatever men can and let’s just do our jobs and end it there. The guys in the office actually convinced me to do it because they said they’ve never had an opportunity to have a member in WISTA.”

“My next step is to take command of a bigger ship”

Our next woman making waves did not come from a maritime family as van Hemmen did; in fact Zimasa Mabela did not get to see the ocean for the first time until she was 18 years old. Four years later Mabela signed up as a navy operator, after being promised to “see the world”  – and that promise has been fulfilled for her. Mabela told Women of Rubies magazine that she has been to “places as diverse as India, Uruguay, St Helena island and Canada”.

Last year Lieutentant Commander Zimasa Mabela achieved yet another first, this one of historical significance, when she took command of the SAS Umhloti. She was the first woman on the African continent to command a combat class naval vessel. You can watch a video of the ceremony where she takes command at EyeWitnessNews; all smiles, Lieutenant Commander Mabela gives this message to the world: “My next step is to take command of a bigger ship.”

A force for positive cultural change in the corporate world

Catherine Hall ‘doesn’t look’ like a general manager of Shell Chemicals because she (is) ‘female, blonde and young’.” At least that was what a male peer told Catherine Hall when she began working there in 2013. Shocking maybe to the reader, it was old hat to Hall – who several years earlier, at a previous role recounted actually being told she was in the “wrong” meeting.

This pioneering woman, equally as comfortable behind the wheel of a race car as she is in a chair at a boardroom table remains unphased. Instead, Hall has turned any sexism or negativity she’s encountered into a force for positive change. She was on a team that created i-Mindset “a culture change movement in chemicals” at Shell which she describes to Straits Times: “I learnt about how to engage people rather than just tell them things, how to inspire them to do more than what they thought possible. It starts with painting a picture of what ‘Great’ looks like for our organisation, what kind of values and behaviour are important to delivering that.”

One of the few female executives in the industry, Hall has been responsible for global shipping of Shell’s chemical products for the past 4 years. Prior to that she spent 15 years at BP also with the shipping business.

These days just being competent isn’t enough

Looking at the accomplishments of Angelica Baylon, it’s apparent that she is passionate about education and learning. She holds six professional degrees, is on the board of several councils and has taught at the University level for over 25 years. Baylon has been called upon to speak globally on topics as diverse as renewable energy, disaster preparedness and training for maritime professionals. Here is a short-list of Baylon’s current roles: Secretary General of NI Philippines, IMarEST Philippines & Pioneer MAAP Director for External Relations; adviser of Women in Maritime Philippines (WIMAPHIL), TREEDC Ambassador to the Philippines for Tennessee Renewable Energy & Economic Development Council & University of Tennessee Institute of Public Service; Secretary General in the Philippines for Nautical Institute (NI) UK & the International Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMAREST); and lastly MAAP contact person for the International Association of Maritime Universities (IAMU), the Asia Marine Educators Association (AMEA) and the GlobalMET New Zealand.

Baylon will speak at CrewConnect Global this November 16 on how to assure the “Knowledge, quality and experience of trainers”. You can get a sneak peak at by reading her recent blog post for us: “Seafarer Education: What Makes a Competent Trainer”.

The art of the possible

If you have any exposure to tech and innovation news you know that IBM is on the tip of everyone’s tongue right now with incredible advancements coming out of that company in the realm of artificial intelligence and data analytics. We round out our list of women making waves with IBM Master Inventor and Research Collaboratory Singapore Director Laura Wynter.

Wynter is working on a “smart port” project right now with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). The Business Times explains that over the next two years IBM and the MPA are developing a: “prototype analytics system that will allow users to infer events of interest from the data, also known as “sense-making”, and also forecast congestion at the port based on predicted vessel arrival times. It will also have a social media component that monitors the social media for events of concern to MPA, such as oil spill or pollution in Singapore waters, as well as potential security threats.”

In the second half of 2017 the team plans to roll out a live trial of this “smart port”. Wynter summed up IBM’s Smarter Cities program to archdaily.com: “We don’t give them just the data; we give them predictions, and recommendations as to what to do about it.” Wynter’s: “areas of expertise involve the use of optimization, equilibrium modeling and statistics-based methods for enabling effective real-time decision making for planning as well as in operational environments in transportation and other domains”. Along with her work in Singapore, Wynter is also Research Scientist at the Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY where she specializes in network optimization, with a focus on telecommunications and transportation applications. Before IBM, Wynter held a joint position at the Universite de Versailles, France and at INRIA (Rocquencourt, France).

We’re excited to have Laura Wynter, Director, IBM Research Collaboratory Singapore, speak at our Shipping2030 Asia event. Wynter will discuss “Transforming maritime operations through sensemaking and fusion analytics”.

Get cutting edge updates on the business-critical commercial, operational and technical developments in the shipping and maritime industries.


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