CareerPreviews@ASPIRE

Sanjam Sahi Gupta: Maritime can be a wonderful career choice for women!

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Shilpa Jain: What is the reaction that you receive when you say you are part of the shipping industry?

Sanjam Sahi Gupta: When I tell people I work in the shipping or maritime industry the first impression people have is that I am a seafarer or sail on ships. Not surprisingly – as we are an invisible industry. The general public is not aware of the career opportunities in our industry which is responsible for enabling 90% of the world global trade.

Maritime touches every part of our lives though many are not aware of it!

SJ: What are the career options in the maritime industry?

SSG: The options are many – from working at sea or in a port as a crane operator or a vessel planner, designing software, working onshore in a shipping company office, or practicing maritime law. Maritime is big business! It is the most eco friendly means of transport and adds more to the economy than both rail and aviation combined. Working in maritime is exciting, rewarding and unlike any other industry. 

SJ: How has the pandemic affected the maritime industry?

SSG: In this pandemic, while supply chains were active and people were grateful for the supermarkets that stocked the essentials – it was thanks to the commitment of the men and women who continue to move the world, even under global crisis. 

From the seafarers who sailed on ships carrying essential cargo to us, to the port, the transporters and clearing agents who ensured that even in this situation you got food on your plate.


SJ: What are the career options for women in the maritime industry?

SSG: Indian seafarers are sought after globally! 

We need the next generation of brilliant innovators and talent to join the industry which is today being disrupted. And yes, while its historically been a male dominated field, today maritime jobs are gender neutral. We have female Captains commanding ships, female crane operators even in our own Nhava Sheva port – BMCT terminal (PSA), women working as surveyors, office managers and also women in shipping technology.

There are lots of different routes into a career in the maritime industry – these differ for sea and shore based careers. When I say, sea-based, it essentially means the seafarers. A career at sea offers a wealth of exciting opportunities for anyone looking for adventure and a job away from the normal desk job.

The Merchant Navy is the collective term for commercial shipping and includes a variety of vessels from cruise ships to tankers and cargo ships of all descriptions. Ships need to be manned (or ‘womanned’) and require highly trained seafarers working across navigation, engineering, electro-technical and on-board services disciplines at both officer and rating levels. 

Those who decide to pursue a career at sea by following the officer training route will, on completion, be in a management position, ensuring that the vessel and its crew are safe, all the machinery is maintained and the cargo reaches its destination on time and intact. 
There are also roles for those interested in on-board services and hospitality, on vessel such as cruise ships

Opportunities such as for employment on shore can be classified under societies, ship owners, ship managers, clearing and forwarding agents and surveyors

Ship-owners need effective shipbrokers, lawyers, bankers and insurers. These business services – many with a global reach – are a vital part of the maritime industry.

SJ: What qualifications are typically required to enter a maritime career?

SSG: Many people enter these sectors after a career at sea, but many more choose to enter shipping having established themselves in professional services. It means graduates in law, economics, finance and many other disciplines – many of whom have never thought about a maritime career – find themselves becoming a crucial part of the industry.

The variety of port facilities provides opportunities for every possible port-based career. Ports form an essential part of the logistics chain, which means – as well as marine disciplines – there are opportunities for maritime professionals in port operations, engineering, warehousing, transport, planning, safety, security, and a host of other business areas. 

In recent years, the logistics and supply chain industry is growing rapidly and offers huge opportunities to the aspiring professionals  

Short Bio

Sanjam Sahi Gupta is Director for Sitara Shipping and Founder ‘Maritime SheEO.’ She is a founder member of WISTA India and Board Member of WISTA International. She has been invited by the IMO to speak at various panels and conferences. She has been acknowledged for her role as a change maker -advocating diversity and sustainable shipping  by various awards and recognitions across the world.

Interviewed by – Shilpa Jain

 Executive Director, Indusion Consulting Services (ex-banker, now a head-hunter)

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