UAE: The Maritime Standard held the 12th Webinar in its Covid 19: A Leadership Perspective series on Wednesday 4th November ending the current season. The latest event, featuring an all-female panel, looked at how women are proving to be game changers in terms of shipping leadership, and was widely acclaimed by the global online audience to have been the one of the most insightful and informative to date.
There are plans for the TMS Webinar programme to return in 2021, building on the reputation the events have secured in the industry over the past six months for providing a vibrant forum for different segments of the industry to discuss and debate key issues at a time when it is important to bring experts together to share their experiences. Trevor Pereira, TMS Managing Director, “With the latest Webinar we were fortunate to assemble six top female executives with backgrounds in shipping, ship management, ports, digitalisation and law to end this highly successful season on a high. We are now focusing on holding the TMS Awards on November 23rd and the TMS Tanker Shipping Conference on November 24th, both in person in Dubai. Our aim is to relaunch the Webinar series early in the New Year with a new and exciting programme that will help meet the needs of the industry for a means of exchanging ideas and solutions at this critical time.”
During the most recent Webinar the panel shared experiences of leadership in the pandemic and also reflected on the importance of encouraging women to assume senior roles in maritime companies. Mrs H K Joshi, Chairperson and Managing Director of the Shipping Corporation of India, highlighted the tremendous performance of the company despite the challenges of the pandemic. “The reasons we have been so successful is that we adjusted very quickly. Readiness, resilience and a high level of preparedness enabled us to record some wonderful financial results,” she said.
Dr Noura Al Dhaheri, Head of the Digital Cluster, Abu Dhabi Ports and CEO of Maqta Gateway LLC, reflected that ADP had played a vital role in supporting the UAE leadership’s commitment to continuing to meet the needs of its people. She added, “The pandemic has highlighted how necessary digitalisation is and we have adopted a number of innovative solutions, such as online warehousing, to meet the requirements of customers in the new normal.”
The panelists agreed that hybrid solutions, where companies would be supported by staff working from home as well as on site, was going to be a feature of the maritime sector for the foreseeable future. Jacoba Bolderheij CEO of the Dutch Port of Den Helder, commented, “One of the lessons we have learned is that people at home do work, and working at home can be as effective as in the office. But we need to ensure we maintain communications to protect out staff’s mental health as well as to establish new networks that keep in touch with our clients.”
Vanessa Welch, Senior Manager, Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre (EMAC), praised the UAE’s employee protection measures which had enabled women to work flexibly from home, particularly if they have children in education. “The difficulty of meeting up in person has meant that we have had to suspend our successful Breakfast briefing events, but we are developing new ways of connecting with the market and highlighting the online dispute resolution procedures and hearings we can facilitate at EMAC,” added Vanessa.
The importance of soft skills in leadership was stressed by Caroline Huot, Senior Vice President, Ship Management, Singapore-based Delta Corp Shipping. She added that the crew change issues triggered by the pandemic has produced a creative response from her team. She said, “The pandemic has raised new issues for shipping and a lot of creativity, and adaptability, has been required to solve them.”
Sue Terpilowski, Managing Director of Image Line, and President, WISTA UK, noted that companies are now spending more on communications, both internally and externally, focussing on the need to reach out to staff as well as customers. Sue also observed, “The pandemic has showed that the maritime industry is robust and resilient and vital to the global economy. The industry has proved to be more agile than many people thought it could be.”
The panellists discussed the importance of increasing awareness amongst young women of the benefits of a career in shipping and at the same time raising awareness of the value that can be added to businesses by having more women in senior positions. Webinar moderator, Clive Woodbridge, concluded, “During the pandemic the stock of female political leaders has risen, and the webinar showed that the same is true in shipping. The discussion between these six inspirational female shipping leaders demonstrated how important it is that the industry fully embraces a move towards better gender balance to tap into the talents of half of the population which have perhaps been underutilised until now.”