Celebrating Women's Day last gave us the opportunity to recognise the successful women in our very own industry.
While the verdict is still not out on how many women work in the ocean shipping industry in India, we did notice a few leading ladies who have been rising up and challenging stereotypes. We spoke to 6 women on Women’s Day (on March 8th) to understand their journey in the Shipping Industry and how they have been able to #BalanceForBetter.
Mrunal Tanna, Director Consolidation at Links Cargo Agencies Pvt Ltd
After dabbling in varied interests, I eventually joined my husband and my brother in law in the family business.
I have been in the industry for over 25 years now and things have certainly changed. Initially, it started off being a man’s world. Clients did not want to speak to a woman in the beginning. While I knew how to solve their queries, I was always doubted on my ability. I managed to convince a few, but with some, it didn't work. It took a while for me to gain their confidence, and eventually, they agreed. This has made my convincing skills my best asset.
I can see the change now. There are a lot of women in senior positions.
I have overcome the difficulty of balancing work & home, especially in a joint family. According to a recent survey we did, at least 40% of our workforce is women. We do face issues of breaks because of marriages and women taking delivery leave, but most of our women come back to work as well, and they are happy to be back. We let them take breaks because we understand that there is always a family angle.
Advice to other women: “If a girl is wanting to work (in any field) and has issues like family, or not enough positive push from people around her, she should persist and persuade. Our girls should be brought up to be more adaptive and not averse to taking risks. These kinds of traits should be put in at a younger age, only then will there be enough growth for them. That’s when they can be at par with men. "Follow your dreams with courage and conviction.” Is what I can advise the upcoming generation.
Anjali Bhide - Founder and MD of NYANJA Group of companies
(Comprising of 3 companies, our Group is a service provider to the Maritime industry.)
Shipping is- and has always been - a male-dominated industry. Even today, there are only a handful of women who occupy senior positions in shipping companies - vis a vis IT, banking and other sectors. First generation entrepreneurs are very few.
Advice to Women: “Chase your dreams- being a woman should be your source of strength- and not an obstacle - for pursuing to attain what you want out of your Life.”
Jhanvi Mehta, Vice President- Trade at MSC
My entry to shipping was not planned. I came into Maritime Industry in 1988 when I joined Nedlloyd lines regional office in their IT division. Subsequently based on interest I was given the opportunity to shift on the commercial side. With no formal training in shipping or logistics, it became very exciting for me to learn everything on the job. After spending 30 years now in the industry, I can say that the profession chose me, and I was destined to be part of this amazing industry.
During my tenure at the organizations I worked and where I currently work, whatever opportunity or challenge which came my way, I accepted it and gave it more than 100%, this I can say has brought me so far where I'm today. Apart from my work profile in sales, and now trade, I've also been involved in setting up internal processes, training new members in the organisation.
In 1988, we did not see many women in the mainstream shipping, however over the years when I look today, much has been achieved already, we already have many women in leadership position in the Industry, but we still have a long way to go.
My Advice to young girls in the industry: “It's a cliché, but believe in yourself. Be convinced yourself first that you’re capable of doing something, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Attitude and hard work matters the most - and then you can achieve anything you want.”
Bindu Sharma, Director – Finance & Business Admin at Hapag Lloyd
I entered the industry over five years ago without really knowing much about the industry. Learning and understanding the industry was challenging, but slowly and steadily I was able to grasp it. I always like to face challenges head-on, and not get discouraged by it. I’m happy here in this industry.
I always believe in trying new things.
There are fewer women in shipping compared to other industries. Sometimes, I have been the only woman in meetings! But I have never let that intimidate me. I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who respect me. I have never faced any challenges as a leader in this industry. People have always respected me and my decisions.
At Hapag Lloyd, 40-50% of our workforce is women. That being said, we never took gender into consideration while hiring. We only looked at the credentials of the candidate. Gender has never been a mandatory requirement for any kind of job here.
Advice to Women: “Never say no to new responsibilities or challenges. Always look at the positive, instead of the negatives. Positivity with give you strength to overcome hurdles. This is what I have personally followed in my life. What’s more is equality truly comes from respect. It is not fair to say a woman can do everything a man can do, that is like comparing fishes and elephants in a swimming contest. However, it is important to play to your strengths, and respect will follow.”
Hansa Jijo, Vice President IT and Process at AllCargo Logistics
I have been working in the Shipping and Logistics industry for the past 24 years and have been part of the largest and the best in the Container Shipping (P&O Nedlloyd and Maersk) and Logistics Industry (Allcargo). Each organization has had its own flavour, with varied approaches, but what has remained common is the opportunity provided to work on a plethora of profiles enabling me to push conventional barriers and the freedom to take decisions.
In my 12 years with Allcargo, under the guidance and mentorship of our visionary chairman, Mr. Shashi Kiran Shetty, I have been given an opportunity to work on class-leading global projects with the freedom to strategize and contribute to the direction set by our chairman. Cutting across boundaries of prejudice and gender bias, Allcargo, has allowed me to grow both professionally and personally, teaching me how to manage global IT projects with a lean team and build a scalable and sustainable process which leads to excellence. It has been an interesting journey so far and I have thoroughly enjoyed working in this industry.
We women are no less and it is up to us to live and recognize ourselves to the full potential. We, by nature, are very good at multitasking and this helps us to take up everything as an opportunity and just do it. Let us not just recognize our abilities as individual but also contribute to the phenomenon that is womanhood!! As Mother Teresa said and I quote ‘I alone can't change the world but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.’ Let us create those ripples of change within us and for the women around us.
Advice to women: Find your passion, pursue it, stay fit, keep smiling, hang out with family and friends. Live your life to its fullest!
Bharti Bhandarkar – Bhandarkar Shipping Times
You choose your career by design or default. Sometimes your plans for the future are overturned as destiny wants to offer you a better package. I was a commerce graduate and was so protected that I found myself at sea even for a simple task of encashing a cheque at the bank. I faced the proverbial situation of going from pan to the fire as I chose to marry in a maritime family.
I joined the family business and started receiving hands-on training. I was mentored by none other than extrovert and capable mother in law.
Soon, I took on the responsibilities of the business, like a shadow in charge, alongside my mother-in-law. My husband used to motivate me to acquire the skill sets to run the business. It was trial by fire. While I had just got comfortable in my new routine, a new venture was being germinated from the ideation stage to reality - Bhandarkar Shipping News.
Sensing a need for this information and knowledge harnessing tool in the market, Bhandarkar wasted no time in launching the venture. Initially, instead of depending on outsiders, it was felt that an insider is better placed to take responsibility.
I was assigned to be the resident editor. In a few months, I had to metamorphose from someone who had never seen a ship to being an editor of a specialized newspaper. Necessity, it is said, is the mother of invention. I had to learn all the facets of the business - right from the technical side of printing operation to hiring and retaining the right talent to networking and setting up formal and informal sources of information..
On this occasion of Women's Day, I would like to place on record my thanks to my mother-in-law and WISTA members who helped me widen my horizon.