September 03, 2021

Women share how they have ‘risen above the tide'

While women in the maritime industry face many challenges, participants attending SAIMI’s fourth women’s seminar and training workshop online yesterday (Tuesday, 31 August) were reminded of the saying “smooth sailing doesn’t make a good sailor”.

While women in the maritime industry face many challenges, participants attending SAIMI’s fourth women’s seminar and training workshop online yesterday (Tuesday, 31 August) were reminded of the saying “smooth sailing doesn’t make a good sailor”.

In sharing this apt quote by Franklin D Roosevelt, one of the speakers of the 2021 women’s seminar, themed “Rising above the tide: Breaking barriers as women”, encouraged women to take up their space in the maritime sector to contribute positively towards gender representation. 

Speaking to the participants of the webinar Siyamthanda Maya, Managing Director of South African Marine Fuels (SAMF), said she had to navigate and overcome many challenges during her close to 20 years as a business professional in the energy sector. “You will not always be welcome in most places, it will require persistence, resilience, commitment and sheer optimism,” said Maya. 

SAMF, a licensed bunkering company in Algoa Bay, is a women-run enterprise headed up by Maya, who is passionate about skills transfer and development as an active member of WISTA-SA, a partner in hosting yesterday’s webinar in collaboration with SAIMI. “We need to look further than just opening doors through the confines of the companies we establish, but be part of knowledge generation and sharing, to enable other women to take the leap, through the telling of our journeys,” said Maya.  

Another speaker who shared her journey was Lucinda Krige, HR Manager: Learning and Development at Sea Harvest Corporation, who started off working as a chambermaid at a hotel with a dream of becoming an engineer. Her opportunity came when she was accepted as an engineering cadet at Sea Harvest Corporation, working onboard a trawler vessel while progressing through the ranks as an engineer. During her studies she often looked around her in some of her classes and realized she was either the only woman, or one of two or three in the room.

“I was discriminated against a lot, but very little things can keep you from achieving your goal if you have a passion. I became the first female to qualify as a chief engineer in the fishing industry in South Africa… but my challenges didn’t stop and the mountains I had to climb to prove myself became even bigger,” said Krige.

Another pioneer for women in a different sub-sector of the oceans economy is Catherine Moodie, Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers South Africa.

While Moodie started her career in Richards Bay in 1998 as an operations coordinator “by answering phones and making coffee”, her interest in the maritime industry was piqued when she went to sea for the first time. 

“From the first time I boarded my first vessel - meeting international crew and seeing the port operations, joining the dots in my head on international trade aspects - this set my path to be upskilled and wanting to develop my career in shipping,” said Moodie.

Moodie worked in various roles within the maritime industry locally, and for 12 years internationally, but returned back home to South Africa in 2012. “Working in shipping and logistics you are challenged daily in various areas, however with the support of others and being aware of your surroundings and knowing the gears for the cogs of the wheel, the shipping and logistics industry never has a dull movement,” said Moodie.

In addition to hearing about the milestones achieved by women professionals in the maritime sector, SAIMI also provided free professional development training in the second part of yesterday’s webinar. The online training workshops were facilitated by national and international experts, including Marine Learning Alliance (MLA) College based in the UK, Mayihlome Human Capital Solutions, and the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers South Africa. 

The women’s webinar was facilitated by Lee-Anne Vasi, Senior Manager: Business Development & Strategic Liaison at Nelson Mandela University Business School, and a special poem “Rising above the Tide” was performed by Poet Divinity Siphokazi Roji.

Soraya Artman, Operations Director at SAIMI, opened the online event and said the purpose of the webinar was to “create hope, awareness, and opportunities for women to take up careers in diverse and previously male-dominated sectors of the oceans economy”.

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