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Irene Rosberg, president of WISTA Denmark

Irene Rosberg, president of WISTA Denmark

WISTAs of the north

Meeting with WISTA-Denmark:  John Faraclas reports; videos by Anny J. Zade:

I guess you all know over the last 30 years or so via my articles and speeches to international fora of  accepting the important and decisive role women play too, to a great extent, in our industry –  in all longitudes,  latitudes and positions; an industry being the most important and diverse from all industries put together.

Indeed the Shipping saga, better say the Shipping adventure,  is the most essential one for the well-being of Planet Ocean and its inhabitants. Without ships plying or better say criss-crossing its sea-lanes, life would have been, more or less, impossible.  This is the one side of the coin, the other being the offshore personnel who back these operations 24/7…  And, yes and … I come to recognise that it is not just the Masters of the Seven Oceans to whom we owe our well-being, but the sea-maidens too… the real backers of the shipping adventure to all intents and purposes!

Coming from a shipping and seafaring family from both my parents, and having a family history in the industry  for nearly 700 years, from a very young age I have noticed the contribution of women in our industry, their immense contribution under any role – those days the mother/father figure was indeed a very difficult role, and still is – upbringing of children and keeping the household shipshape, saving money for your seafarer husband to assist him, not just for the resting month/time off the ships, but also saving money for him  to participate in the shipping business. This entails charismatic and may I say, wise personalities; these were the women ! It has also happened during the  last year of my studies in the United Kingdom to witness the launching of WISTA, WISTA UK, hence my sensitivity and support towards this group – the WISTAs as I call them…

During lunch with WISTA-Denmark: Irene Rosberg and to her left Dorte Christiansen

During lunch with WISTA-Denmark: Irene Rosberg and to her left Dorte Christiansen

In this point, I have to tell you the unique seaborne management duo, the in-tandem, to use a shipping term,  cooperation on board ships, primarily by the wives of shipmasters and chief engineers. In an ever changing world after World War Two, women sailing with their husbands unsolicited got involved in this unique as  said cooperation! They become the best PA’s! The message was passed on for on board participation, work, which afterwards led to offshore jobs with these pioneer women. I am sure many of you will now search and find out; a must to honour women! I do know not only Greek, or British, but Scandinavian women in these posts!

All things being equal is one thing, but one must also recognise the fact that the conditions and parameters prevailing to let women in the business that surfaced, was the sudden demographic time bomb which struck the world and conversely the global economy in the late 70’s to mid-80’s and come to the fore in the nineties, the necessity of using the meticulousness of the business character, care and personality women possessed. A Women’s advantage!

Travelling around Planet Ocean the last 30 years I have come across many WISTA organisations. The two most important ones so far are those based in the North and South of Europe.

In the South of Europe, it is the Greek Women by heritage and other factors who lead the way forward , and to a greater extent  play a pivotal role in world shipping.

In the North, WISTA-Denmark has shown immense, unique and eclectic if I may say business acumen and great response as well as support to the site in promoting WISTA women with very special articles and news like no other WISTA and, add the creation of Nordic WISTA, that triggered my interest in organising a meeting via my partner and director in allaboutshipping.co.uk  Anny Zade, a WISTA member too, during our visit in Copenhagen’s Business School with its world acclaimed executive  Blue MBA,   to meet them. Danish Women today are on par with men in most shipping affairs. A great step forward and example to and for all, is the Director General of the Danish Shipowners’ Association Anne H. Steffensen. Viewers can read and watch her live interview here.

Moreover, we believe in Mentorship being the name of the game, and indeed earlier in October this year, WISTA Nordic launched a Mentorship Program! Excellent!

Irene Rosberg,  president of WISTA-Denmark, was more than helpful with organising this meeting and we had a more than interesting time interviewing her and two more WISTA- Denmark  members and members of WISTA-Denmark board:  Helle Gleie, whom you all know for her vigour, business acumen and participation in many conferences and events with WISTAs worldwide. Helle is also the CEO of Itolead Consulting Group;  the other WISTA being Sonja Olsen from Codan Insurance, part of the RSA. We were more than pleased that they accepted, without any hesitation, a live on camera interview!

This is what Helle Gleie had to say:

And this is what Sonja Olsen said:

We had to continue over lunch our discussions, discussions that never  ever end, particularly when you meet exceptional women and their thoughts, as well as recognising their progress and success in the shipping industry.

Irene Rosberg, President of WISTA-Denmark, concluded the meeting with a live interview too:

Denmark is not just an established maritime nation; Denmark is one of the super-powers in shipping in all aspects. Technology deriving from furthering maritime education and training and to a greater extent  tradition, is the name of the game and today the Danes, women and men are hands-on and leading  the industry; eighth in the world, if my memory doesn’t fail me. Together with their other Scandinavian siblings have proceeded last year in the creation of Nordic WISTA to enhance their cooperation and thrive in world shipping competition. Norway, Sweden and Finland together with Denmark today control the most enviable percentage in world shipping in all sectors of the industry and in all forms. If you search a bit, you can see the participation as well as the success of the Nordic Mermaids!

After our visit and meeting people from the academia sector, tutors, programme directors and students  at CBS’ Blue MBA, we are left with the impression and feeling, indeed this damn feeling of mine, that we will soon observe even women-start ups for shipping entities and Denmark IS the place for this! The world will follow suite; you bet!

We hope you have enjoyed the interviews and look forward to your written comments. For sure a lot will be discussed in next year’s US WISTA International AGM and Conference which, all going well, we will also attend and cover.

This is the fourth reporting article of our team’s visit in Denmark; you can read the other two here and here. The third one is above in paragraph ten at the end, again under the word “here”.-

I am leaving you now with a question, a question with four W’s: WHAT  WISTA WOMEN WANT? Look forward your replies!

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