Maritime Conference 2020

Quick Overview

The first Maritime SheEO Conference brought together global maritime experts on the TOOL Aquarium digital conference platform 23 November, 2020 to have conversations over the theme “Diversity and Sustainability: The Business Case”. 

Conceptualised by Sanjam Sahi Gupta, and supported by Birgit Marie Liodden, the founders of Maritime SheEO and TOOL, these change makers have collaborated on pushing initiatives such as gender diversity in the maritime industry since 2018, from India and Norway. Their work has gained support from Indian and Norwegian governments, as well as a growing number of industry organizations and corporates. Their strategic collaboration focuses on the UN SDGs, connecting diversity change-makers across borders, nurturing the next generation and their entrepreneurship. 

Helen Buni, representing IMO’s Women in Maritime programme, announced that IMO’s Women in Maritime programme will support women from developing countries to take part in the first Maritime SheEO leadership program. The Maritime SheEO Leadership Accelerator Programme targets to equip women with leadership skills and confidence for them to take a seat at the decision-making table in the Industry. This leadership scheme will include training, mentoring and networking opportunities. The programme is expected to be fully launched by International Women’s Day (IWD), 8 March 2021. The 2021 IWD theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” celebrates the incredible efforts by women around the world in creating a more equal future, all as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Event Highlights

Countries Joined Virtually
Speakers From 25 Countries
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Booth Visitors

Message from our Key Note Speakers

Mr. Mansukh Mandaviya
Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, India

The Maritime Industry is one of the few industries that have the lowest number of women workforce. This conference is a welcome step to promote gender equality in the industry.
Ms. Ine Eriksen Soreide
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway

The Industry is facing dual challenges, or opportunities, of digitalization and of moving in a greener direction. To succeed, the maritime industry needs to hire the best candidates from a diverse pool, not just half of the population.
Mr. Kitack Lim
Secretary General, IMO

I would like to congratulate Sanjam Gupta for organizing this important event. She is a great champion of IMO's capacity-building efforts.

Here’s what went down at the conference:

COVID-19 has certainly impacted the way we run business, and even more so impacted women’s participation in the decision making. The panellists in this session spoke about various aspects from Mental Health, Country Economy, Technological Barriers, and more.

Moderator: Ms. Preetika Mehrotra, Human Capital Advisor
Ms. Fabiana Martins, Lawyer, SMA, Brazil
Ms. Danae Bezantakou, CEO Navigator Shipping Consultants, Greece
Ms. Shehara Jayawardana, Joint Managing Director, McLarens Group, Sri Lanka
Ms. Naa Densua Aryeetey, Head of Department, Shipper Services & Trade Facilitation, Ghana Shippers’ Authority
Ms. Yasmina Ruber, Founder, YAS Coaching

The three leaders spoke about how in order to drive change, everyone needs to work together. Companies want change, they want more balanced leadership groups, and more diverse employees. Diversity is the only way to succeed.


Ms. Birgit Marie Liodden, Founder, The Ocean Opportunity Lab (TOOL)
Ms. Sanjam Gupta, Founder, Maritime SheEO
Ms. Heidi Aven, Founder, She Community

Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia- remarked that rapid technological changes and globalization mean that maritime education must be geared to imparting knowledge as well as changing attitudes to support the creation of jobs through an entrepreneurial and sustainable mindset.

Moderator: Ms. Carleen Lyden Walker, Chief Evolution Officer, SHIPPINGInsight (USA)
Dr. Malini V Shankar, Vice Chancellor, Indian Maritime University
Mr. Harris Daskalakis, Executive Director of BCA College, Athens-Greece
Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia Henry, President, World Maritime University

Shri Anil Devli, while talking about the challenges faced by crew in these Covid’19 times, mentioned that “While HR talk about taking care of people sitting in the office, it is exceedingly important to ensure that seafarers are motivated and happy. I need to understand their needs especially now when we can’t get them back home”. This was the running theme across the panel on how important it was to get everyone to collaborate in order to keep people at all levels happy.

Introduction by Mr. Harald Solberg, CEO Norwegian ShipOwners Association
Moderator: Mr. Jagmeet Makkar, Co-Founder & Director, SkillsPlus & Pastiche (HK)
Ms. Karen Avelino, Executive Director, Business Development, Philippine Transmarine Carriers Inc.
Mr. Anil Devli, Indian National Shipowners Association (INSA)
Mr. Amitabh Kumar, DG Shipping, Government of India
Ms. Su Yin Anand, Co-Founder The Captain’s Table Innovation Challenge

Women Global leaders in the Maritime Industry also spoke about their career journeys which was a source of inspiration to the young Maritime SheEO attending the conference.  They shared the challenges they faced while entering the workforce and how they overcame the obstacles to reach the position they are at today.

Mrs. HK Joshi, CMD, Shipping Corporation of India Ltd.
Ms. Katharina Stanzel, MD, Intertanko  
Ms. Karin Orsel, MD MF Shipping Group, The Netherlands 
Ms. Poroma Munshi Rebello, Commercial Director, IndiaLinx

The conference hosted a fascinating father-daughter session comprising Guy Platten along with his daughter, Alice Duncan speaking to Summiit Cheema about the Seafaring career that passed from father to daughter rather than father to son.

Moderator: Ms. Summiit Sharma, Co-Founder, Dycecorp
Mr. Guy Platten, Secretary General, International Chamber of Shipping
Ms. Alice Duncan, Master Fed Funnel

In her conversation with Ms. Arathi Narayanan, Capt. Kate McCue shared the experience of sailing, first-time ever with an entirely female officer team, this March 2020 on board Celebrity Edge, while coping with the pandemic. She said, “when you have 350 crew on-board who couldn’t get home, having women in those leadership positions and the empathy they brought to the environment was so overwhelming. It was the warmest, safest and most professional environment I have ever seen”.

In conversation with Capt. Kate McCue, Celebrity Cruises
Interviewed by Ms. Arathi Narayanan, Head of Administration, ABS Marine Services Pvt Ltd

Ms. Christin Bosterud, CEO of EY in Norway had a message for young professionals “Be bold; embrace the D & I agenda as an essential part of the new normal”.

Shri Amitabh Kumar talked about how they were started working before COVID hit India. They stopped crew change for 28 days, and within that time we opened up ports and then all Indian ports were ready for Crew Change. He also shared India’s Maritime Vision 2030 in an exclusive chat.

Mr. Amitabh Kumar, Director General of Shipping, GOI
Ms. Sofia Fürstenberg Stott, Founder & Partner, Fürstenberg Maritime Advisory

Dr. Heidi Alaskary talks about her childhood and her journey on driving changes in gender equality in Saudi Arabia.

SheEO Smashing Stereotypes: Ms.Bissar Sleiman, CEO, Tia Marine Services (Lebanon) & Ms Sarah Haidar, Beirut Port Terminal Manager
Sustainable Human Rights for Sustainable Shipping©: Ms.Sayedeh Hajar Hejazi, Maritime and Law of the Sea Professional
Sailing towards new horizons: Ms.Suneeti Bala, Co-Founder, IWSF
Mental Health of Women Seafarers: Dr. Ilona Denisenko, Past President IMHA
Digital Storytelling for Social Impact: Ms.Liz Wakesho Marami, Founder, Against the Tide, Kenya
Global partnerships in smart transport for the SDGs accomplishment- the butterfly effect: Dr. Cristina Dragomir, Associate Professor, Constanta Maritime University

Why is it that the success rate among maritime startups, is so poor? This session will argue, that one of the major reasons for this is a lack of a balanced risk perception by startups, who are knocking on that corporate door. FMA has pulled out some gems of learning cases, of why these collaborations so often fail.

Ms. Sofia Fürstenberg Stott, Founder & Partner, Fürstenberg Maritime Advisory
Mr. Conor Fürstenberg Stott, Founder & Partner, Fürstenberg Maritime Advisory

Mr. Bart de Jong in conversation with Ms. Jillian Carson-Jackson spoke about the Recent Research by Maritime SheEO and the Netherlands Consulate. Jillian also shared her experiences as a young cadet.

Mr. Bart de Jong, Consul General of the Netherlands in Mumbai
Ms. Jillian Carson-Jackson, MD, JCJ Consulting, Australia, & President, The Nautical Institute

With the IMO 2050 targets and the Paris Climate Accord, shipping is set on a route towards decarbonization. As we start mobilizing for this transformative shift, there are many roadblocks in our path: fuel options are not available at scale, engine solutions are at least some years away, infrastructure is non-existent, rules and regulations are lagging. And business cases are poor, if they exist at all. How do you as a ship-owner mobilize for this change, and how can you start planning for this coming change, where there is so much uncertainty and such high risks? This session will try and put things in order, by providing the contours of a strategic roadmap for change.

Ms. Sofia Fürstenberg Stott, Founder & Partner, Fürstenberg Maritime Advisory
Mr. Conor Fürstenberg Stott, Founder & Partner, Fürstenberg Maritime Advisory

Prominent speakers from Asia shared best practices they implemented in their organisation to inspire the attendees.

Moderator: Mrs. Nafeesa Moloobhoy, Managing Director, A. S. Moloobhoy Group of Companies
Ms. Helene Tofte, Executive Director, The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association
Capt. Rajesh Unni, Founder & CEO, Synergy Group
Ms. Kristine Leach, Managing Director, Jotun India
Mr. Prakash Thangachan, Chief Human Resources Officer, Maersk Tankers
Mr. Romesh David, CEO, SAGT (Colombo Port)

The panel spoke about the various technologies available for the Maritime Industry to use. Some panellists brought up bottlenecks in the current systems exposed by COVID, while others put forward the technology (for example: AI) they have implemented for better operations.

Moderator: Mr.Shanker Pillai, Head – Innovation & Change, Hafnia (Singapore)
Ms. Despina Theodosiou, CEO Tototheo Maritime (Cyprus)
Mr. Ritesh S. Ramakrishnan, Joint Managing Director, Transworld Group (India)
Ms. Liji Nowal, MD, ODeX India Solutions (India)
Ms. Cristina S. Santa Maria, Regional Manager South East Asia, Pacific & India, DNV GL – Maritime
Ms. Pia Meling, Vice President, Massterly, Norway
Capt. Dwain Hutchinson, MD and CEO, Bahamas Maritime Authority, UK
Mr. Steffan Knodt, Director, Digital Ventures, Wartsila
Mr. Kris Vedat, Head of IT, P&O Maritime Logistics

The panellists from diverse backgrounds shared their experiences in the Maritime Industry, each challenge and obstacle different from the next, and spoke about how their vision for a better and more inclusive industry.

Introduction by Ms. Ally Cedeno, Founder of Women Offshore
Moderator: Mr. Chris Hovde, Chairman of the board, Future Leaders Global and Global People Movement Leader, Telia (Norway)
Ms. Reshma Nilofer, Marine Pilot, Kolkata Port Trust (India)
Capt. Ayse Asli Basak, Founder SHEfarers (Turkey)
Dr. Cecilia Österman, Linnaeus University -Kalmar (Sweden)
Ms. Siv Remoy, CEO, Maritime Bergen (Norway)
Ms. Eli K Vassenden, VP Shared Services, Grieg Star
Ms. Aoibhin Mary Dolan, Trainee Deck Officer, Ireland




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