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IAPH Women in Ports Mentoring Program now extended to female Harbour Masters

Thursday, 05 December 2019 | 00:00

IHMA joins as partner of the World Ports Sustainability Program

Women working in Harbour Master Divisions at the world’s ports are now being offered the opportunity to be mentored by some of the industry’s most experienced male and female professionals thanks to the International Harbour Masters Association (IHMA) now joining the IAPH World Ports Sustainability Program as Partner. IHMA has already reported interest from women members and are in the process of matching them with senior mentors, including members of their own Executive Committee.

The IAPH Women’s Forum, due to meet with representatives from all member ports at the IAPH World Ports Conference next March in Antwerp, established the Women in Ports Mentoring Program last May.

Jeanine Drummond (pictured above, first left), Harbour Master – Newcastle & Yamba, Port Authority of New South Wales and Chair – IAPH Women’s Forum, introduced the Mentorloop system at a special event held at the IMO FAL 43rd Session in London earlier this year. The system connects women port professionals online with both male and female mentors who are principally involved in port operations.

Jeanine commented: “The Women in Ports Mentoring Program sets out to empower high-potential women port professionals by linking them to expert mentors to expand their knowledge base and prepare them to take up operational roles in the smart ports of the future.”

Bringing hi-potential women port professionals into contact with experienced seniors, both male and female

Jacqui Kenyon served in the Royal Australian Navy for 17 years on board a variety of ships including ro-ro vessels, tankers, frigates, hydrographic vessels, and helicopter dock ships, before starting as a trainee pilot in Sydney and Botany Bay. In her primary role in the Navy, Jacqui was the ship's pilot conducting all pilotages and berthings in each port her ships visited. She also provided navigation and shiphandling training to all the deck officers onboard.

Jacqui's extensive time at sea with the Navy, visiting ports all around Australia and the world gave her a real interest in pilotage as a potential career move in the merchant sector. “The ability to be able to commence a new career, focusing on the favourite part of my job (pilotage and shiphandling) each day was a fantastic opportunity.”

“Females generally make up about 30% of the crew on board Australian warships, whereas in the merchant sector around two percent are females” Jacqui commented. “Overall though I do get welcomed by male colleagues and crews when I board. I joined the Harbour Master’s division covering Sydney and Botany Bay in February this year. I had six months to attain my first licence for the port (of which there are seven levels) which allows you to handle container ships up to 185 meters in length and 30,000 tons displacement as well as tankers up to 150 meters and 26,000 tons displacement. My maiden pilot operation involved bringing in a 120 meter tanker in 25 knots of wind blowing onto the berth which was quite a baptism.”

She is currently working on getting her second level licence and was introduced by Jeanine to the mentoring program. She set up an online profile on Mentorloop and connects using her iPad where she also gets email notifications.

Carolyn Kurtz is a graduate of King’s Point Merchant Marine Academy in New York. With eight years of seagoing experience on multiple vessel types, a Master’s license and over two decades as a senior pilot, Carolyn works at Port Tampa Bay in the United States. This is Florida's largest commercial port, handling over 37 million tons of cargo per year.

“With my father working in ship chartering and the family taking holidays on board cargo vessels, my exposure to the maritime world came early” commented Carolyn. “After graduating from King’s Point I started by career as Third Officer on board a Tanker, and worked my way up to Chief Mate. In those days making Master as a woman was a challenge, but it was the prospect of combining a new professional life at a port in my home state of Florida with family ambitions that attracted me to becoming a pilot at Port Tampa Bay.”

Carolyn took to the study books, and put in over a thousand hours of study in a three-month period to apply for her post. ” Applying processes for pilot positions at US ports varies enormously, but the competitive place for Port Tampa Bay is based on passing a very stringent exam which includes visual memorisation of the forty one-mile passage of river and dredged channels from pilot buoy to berth. That pretty much one of the longest approaches to a US port you can find.”

Following a detailed thirty-month induction program that included a lot of hands-on supervision, Carolyn commenced work as Florida’s first woman pilot. She progressed on a nine-level ladder, with her handling a variety of ships of increasing length and weight.

As one of the training coordinators in her port, she has led courses recommended to pilots for continuing education requirements.

“With only 30 women pilots out of an approximate total of 1,200 pilots in the country, we have still some way to go to balance the gender scale” she added.

Carolyn’s connection to the Women’s Mentoring System came through social media, which she has used to connect to other port professionals. “The common interest recommendations pointed me to the IAPH Women’s Forum and I was approached to be a mentor on this new program which I happily accepted” she said.

More than mentoring – a weekly catch up between friends
Both women now connect with each other via the Mentorloop system on a weekly or bi-weekly basis depending on their week-on-week off shifts. Whilst they converse about the profession and their experiences at work, their conversations go beyond mentoring now that they are familiar with one another.

“By definition, pilotage is a job requiring high qualifications and overall Jacqui has had a pretty good start to her new role so my mentoring role itself does not focus too much on the technical side. As with the training programs I lead, aside from the procedural deal-breakers I always explain to Jacqui how I would approach a specific task or role and then let her interpret how she would put that into practice in her own way.” says Carolyn.

Jacqui is positive on the impact the mentoring system.

“Having Carolyn as a contact has been beneficial as she can provide outside advice and is always open to me running ideas past her. It's really nice to able to connect with someone who shares the same job and challenges. When we talk it’s often really a catch up on what we have been up to at home and at work, but some of the tips I get from Carolyn have been really valuable. For instance, she mentioned that the time when you need to be most focused and in a state of readiness is when everything appears to be calm and predictable.”

Jacqui explained further : “Sure enough, shortly after I was berthing a container ship into Botany Bay using a single tug. The manoeuvre required a 180 degree swing before backing up about 800m to the berth. Just as I started backing up to the berth the wind picked up to 20 knots and I found that I did not have enough power in the bow thruster to hold the bow. As a result I had to move back into the swing basin and request a second tug to safely complete the job.”

Carolyn is encouraging more women to go to Maritime School. “More women should look at a maritime career, specifically in ports. As a pilot, with my shift running two weeks on, two weeks off I can spend more time dedicated to my family. Even on my working days I am coming home so that has been really important domestically. ”

Carolyn adds: “As for working the working environment, it’s really up to the men to find their own way of adapting to working with myself and other women in a professional capacity. By avoiding acting like a woman doing a man’s job and getting on with it confidently and professionally, officers on board generally respond positively. I get immense satisfaction from a thankful Captain who asks me if I will be taking the vessel back out of Tampa.”
Source: IAPH

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