BV’s Shikha Mishra Shares her Maritime Journey with Robban Assafina: Keep Empowering Women
Achieving career success may be a challenge for most, but for women in maritime, it is a daily task. Among its various achievements, Bureau Veritas has catered effectively to its commitment to gender balance, with a great outcome accomplished by the women
This edition’s host Bureau Veritas’ Marketing Executive in UAE & KSA Shikha Mishra, shares her experience of a successful maritime career crossing gender lines and making progress as a female leader.
Going back to when you started in the maritime sector, what was your motivation to launch a career in what we call “a male-dominated industry”?
When I joined BV – Marine and Offshore Dept in 2020 it didn’t even cross my mind that I was joining an organization that operates in a male-dominated industry. Having spent the first 10+ years of my career in the service sector, I’ve learned to accept that most of my colleagues are going to be males. It’s a reality I don’t have much control over. However, what I do have control over is to choose to put my focus and energy on the things that help me achieve my career success.
I can tell you, what kept me motivated and engaged is when I see, how BV is committed to gender balance. The fact that we have got female leaders who are making progress in their fields is something that aspires me to try even harder. They are my role models.
To give our audience a full picture about your job, what are your daily tasks?
As a master’s graduate in marketing management and holding a degree in STEM, I have gained international experience in leading multidisciplinary teams while delivering actionable solutions in the form of marketing reports, overall campaign effectiveness and implementing marketing and branding strategies within UAE and KSA.
Most of my job responsibilities involve:
- Developing a comprehensive online presence and press relations plan to enhance the company’s credibility with its primary audiences
- Cultivating new ideas and campaigns that align with current and future sales goals.
- Building brand awareness by collaborating, participating and coordinating promotional activities or trade shows within ME Region.
- Managing company image to key stakeholders in flag states, shipbuilding sectors, and ship operators.
Do you think there are certain qualities or skills that a woman should have in order to help her launch a maritime career?
While we are making progress, there is a lot of awareness to be made at schools and colleges and with career advisers about maritime career opportunities.
Employers seek employees that can add value. Women provide new perspectives and leadership styles that can be very beneficial to this typically male-dominated industry. Success in the maritime field requires more intellect than muscle most of the time and I guess anyone who is determined enough, can have a successful maritime career.
I feel communication is the most beneficial skill to invest in. It allows you to build trust, resolve problems, and allows “teamwork” to actually work in your favor since you’ve communicated your goals clearly.
On the other hand, I have to remind you that working onboard is not the only way to work in the maritime industry. You can also try many other positions, including shipbuilding and repair, port operations, accounting and budgeting, and more. However, even in these positions, it will still be very useful to have ship knowledge and experience.
There are challenges to be certain in such an ever-changing industry. What challenges did you face in your day-to-day job in this field, and how did you manage to cope or overcome them?
My experience has been very positive, where my knowledge and work are appreciated and respected. I have always believed that I’m in a role to do a job, and to get the job done you need variety in the skills and expertise of the team. It’s important to equip yourself for the new world of work and to figure out how to tackle challenges.
I think many companies limit women’s roles in specific aspects that they presently provide, but do not see the potential of that knowledge and experience for other leadership areas. Women have the means to cover many topics and issues at one time. The ability of women to “multi-task” effectively is widely documented. This ability allows them to focus on important issues but also be dedicated to the long-term goals for a company to envision the future.
BV is strongly oriented toward gender balance and women empowerment, especially in the UAE, where a lot of women are taking up leading positions in the maritime industry. How is BV helping the maritime industry move forward with its initiatives to help women bridge the gender gap?
BV, as a global company, is fully focused on the inclusion and empowerment of women with its sights on achieving a 35% women rate in leadership by 2025. Shaping a better workplace is one of the 3 pillars of BV’s CSR strategy, ”Shaping a better world” and Gender equality is one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) covered by Shaping a better workplace. We are proud to say that there are many successful and enthusiastic women throughout the BV family globally who are doing a wonderful, professional job and enjoying rewarding careers within this sector.
In an effort by BV M&O to provide equal opportunity for women, Mr. Chris Welsby our CEO of M&O UAE & KSA, frequently participates at conferences & seminars such as the Saudi Maritime Congress, promoting the current women working in Marine and actively encouraging other women to join the industry.
The more visible women are in the maritime industry the more we can inspire other women to join the sector. This is exactly what we are doing at BV while encouraging more women to join the team, regardless of their professional experience and age. There are many diverse opportunities available in this industry for talented professionals.
How do you observe BV’s position in the Middle East region?
We see ourselves in a position of strength in relation to our competitors. Our growth through 2020, and 2021 and the expected results of 2022 will prove the fact that BV is a force to be reckoned with.
After BV’s latest agreement as RO by Saudi Arabia, how is BV further enhancing the maritime industry through its increasing exposure?
Through our BV academy, we are offering enhanced training programs covering a wide spectrum of the maritime industry. We have also increased our headcount to be able to manage the increase in job-related activities more efficiently. These are in addition to our newly opened remote surveying centre in Al Khobar.
What advice do you give young ladies engaging in this domain?
There’s a shortage of women in maritime because historically it’s been full of men. I encourage women, not to be intimidated. The industry is changing. It’s a safe, clean, hi-tech environment with opportunities for everybody. It’s an exciting time to be a woman in maritime.
Maritime is really broad, so there are tons of different roles from creative, to analytical, to process-oriented minds. Whatever you are interested in, there’s definitely a spot for you inside this industry.
So to all the women out there, I would tell them to keep empowering women, because this is what fuels thriving economies across the world. I truly believe that “when women support each other, incredible things happen”. Today women are more engaging, more flexible and more driven to get that level of excellence.
Robban Assafina Magazine, Issue 81, Sept./ Oct. 2022, pg. 93