In contradiction to the past perceptions that shipping industry was exclusively the domain of men, nowadays more and more women are getting involved in all shipping sectors. They become maritime lawyers, shipbrokers, shipping consultants, naval engineers, even sea captains. During the 4th Business and Career Panorama 2014 which took place on 28-30 March 2014, in Athens at the Athens Music Mansion building, we had the opportunity to attend the discussion “Women and Shipping” (30 March) where six inspirational women shared their success stories with the audience; Elena Kritikou was there:
The discussion was mainly targeting young students interested in learning about the shipping business and making their first steps in the field, and the audience was eagerly attentive.
The introduction was made by Mrs Rea Metropoulou, legal and claims manager, Hellenic Carriers Corporation SA and president of WISTA Hellas. She talked about the role of the maritime lawyer in a shipping company – their duties and responsibilities.
The torch was passed to Mrs Athina Veziris, chief executive of SRH Marine Electronics SA. This highly esteemed lady unfolded the story of her working life to the audience: she started as a radio operator and went on to found one of the greatest companies in the maritime market, offering sales and technical support for navigation, communication, safety and marine equipment. She updated those present on the latest technological improvements in satellite communications and electronic navigation systems.
Mrs Natalia Margioli-Komninou, managing director of the Greek branch of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, outlined the role of the institute, the only internationally recognised professional body in the maritime arena, representing shipbrokers, ship managers and agents throughout the world.
Mrs Eleonora Baha, managing director of Hellaschart Ltd, briefly presented her field of expertise – ship broking and chartering – pointing out both the benefits to the industry and the pitfalls that must be avoided.
Mrs Eleni Polichronopoulou, executive vice-president of Environmental Protection Engineering SA chose for the subject of her presentation the water ballast issue. She said that vessel discharge typically contains a variety of biological materials, including non-native, nuisance, exotic species that can cause extensive ecological and economic damage to aquatic ecosystems, along with serious human health issues. Mrs Polichronopoulou concluded by introducing ERMAFIRST, an autonomous and modular system, developed and designed to meet even more stringent standards than the D-2 provisions of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water & Sediments.
The speeches concluded with inspiring words from Mrs Danae Bezantakou, managing director of Navigator Shipping Consultants, and founder of Greek Food Obsessions. She chairs the Greek mentoring network iforU which was established in January 2012 for the empowerment of female entrepreneurship in Greece. Mrs Bezantakou underlined the importance of being a hard worker, always trying to improve oneself and expanding one’s professional horizons, “to think before you act, to persist under difficult circumstances, to challenge yourself and never give up.”
With the motivating presence of successful key industry leaders and the warm atmosphere of springtime in Athens, it was truly a day to remember.