As you know, on this blog, I have a segment called “A day in the life of…” where a few people from the industry have written what a typical day in their life is like..
On the occasion of #InternationalWomensDay (8th March 2017), I asked one of the ladies in the Shipping and Freight industry to offer her perspective on a typical day in the life of a woman in shipping..
While making it clear that there is no such thing as a “typical” day for a woman, (especially one in shipping), she proceeded to give me her take on a typical day in a woman’s life in the shipping industry and here it is.. 🙂
There’s a saying: “it’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together“ and I am therefore thankful to be able to spend my days employed in an industry with which I have a slightly unhealthy obsession.
But, as everyone involved in this industry is aware, it’s never smooth sailing. Shipping, by nature is not a 9-5 job. It’s an industry involving different time zones, judicial requirements, languages, customs, cultures and procedures and most importantly strict deadlines.
“Time is money” and at any given time, despite the best of planning, a crisis can erupt which needs to be resolved immediately in order to avoid incurring costs and/or potential disaster.
Quite often, we are handling several crises simultaneously. For a woman, dealing with these issues, along with the demands of home, family and other commitments can be something of a juggling act.
That is where the word “passion” comes in. If you have a passion for this field, an enquiring mind and a resilient and conquering nature, it can be a most rewarding and fulfilling way to earn a living.
Being one of the oldest industries in the world, shipping is a very broad field with many opportunities.
It is an industry which is constantly evolving and it is important to keep abreast of new developments and current events. Knowledge and experience are valuable resources as errors can costs hundreds, thousands and even millions of dollars.
There are many reputable courses available as well an abundance of blogs and sites. You learn something new every day. You should learn something new every day. As a woman, that in itself is both an advantage and a challenge.
After a hectic day at work, family commitments, extramural schedules, homework, meetings, etc, it’s quite difficult to find the time, let alone the physical and mental strength required to apply your mind.
Yet women around the world are achieving this on a regular basis as a means of empowering themselves. I too have to deal with the challenge of finding balance while currently completing a Masters degree in Maritime Studies.
I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to be employed previously by a Japanese shipping line and currently by a middle eastern shipping company who are agents for various international shipping lines.
This has afforded me the experience of working with different nationalities and exposure to various management styles and ways in which other shipping lines and countries operate.
While my official position is Assistant Manager, handling the imports and exports of containerised, RORO and break-bulk cargo, unofficially I’m “Jane of all trades”.
In a nutshell the position entails ensuring that import and export procedures are set and adhered to at local and national level, but the actual functions are varied.
There is no typical day and there is certainly no uneventful day.
Challenges which I face on a daily basis are both internal and external. Internally, being the “middle man” between senior management and staff often finds me in an unenviable position of being the target for both sides. Fortunately, I recognize that it is an attribute of the position and not directed at me as an individual.
Externally, a myriad of issues awaits me on a regular basis every day. There are a variety of complications that can occur in the course of importing or exporting cargo such as short shipments, containers not making stack, customs stops, damages, documentary issues, to name a few.
While we handle numerous shipments, each shipper or consignee is naturally only concerned with their own cargo and expects you to prioritise and resolve their issue. In this highly competitive industry, where rates and schedules might be on par, it is often the ability to offer superior and effective customer service that gives a line the added advantage.
Meeting this challenge is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.
Being a woman, you are often undervalued, second guessed and have to work that much harder to achieve recognition in most male dominated industries.
Shipping is no different. In South Africa, however, we are fortunate that gender equality is a priority of the government and that legislation is in place preventing gender discrimination.
Most shipping companies in South Africa are foreign owned and the employment of women enhances their BBBEE score – therefore affording us more opportunities for employment.
However, we have still some way to go… changing the law and enforcing compliance does not automatically change the mindset.
In the interim, as women we will continue to add a meaningful and valuable contribution to the world of Shipping.
Vanessa Sallie (MICS)
I end this article by saying that in my career spanning 28 years, I had the privilege of working with SOME OF THE BEST MINDS IN THE SHIPPING AND FREIGHT INDUSTRY and to THOSE BEST MINDS IN THE INDUSTRY, KUDOS LADIES..
On this #InternationalWomensDay2017 and all other days, I salute you.. May you grow from strength to strength..
PS : If any of my readers (female or male) wishes to share photos, instances of excellence and achievements of Women in Shipping, please feel free to send it via email to me and I will publish the same as an updated article..
In response to my above question, I received below submissions of other enterprising women in shipping..
Great article highlighting women for International Women’s Day, well done.
I’m happy to include some articles about one of our members who has achieved greatly in freight, albeit air freight mostly. I don’t know if you might still like to feature one or two.
Marina Marzani was President of our organisation, the Global Freight Group, from 2003 to 2011 and was awarded the accolade of President of the National Airfreight Forwarder Association in Italy from 2013 to 2016.
The article which gives the best overview of Marina is actually this one, which featured on the Flying Typers website and newsletter.
First Lady of Air Cargo – www.aircargonews.com/AirCargoWomen/AirCargoWomen6.html
Hope you feel able to use some of this. Do let me know.
Hello, below is a little “newsflash spolight” featured in one of our customer’s quarterly internal magazine.
The article features my boss, Vicki Boisjolie, owner and president of BC Logistics, LLC. She is a great representation of femininity in the logistics industry. Her facility, fleet, employees and services are presented in “boutique quality” at all times.
She makes every one of her customers feel important. In our office we don’t have a voicemail system, all calls are answered by the second ring. I wish that was a business standard in general.
As a woman myself, I love working for her and I think she is a woman in the shipping industry worth mentioning.
Thank you for your time.