1. Why did you choose a career in seafaring?
Very candidly, it was because I wanted a challenging environment, a well-paid job and long vacations.
2. Where did you complete your training?
I completed the academic side of this with a Master’s Degree from the Maritime University of Constanţa, in my native Romania.
3. Why did you want to join the Synergy Marine Group, and what has been your experience sailing with them?
When the Group took over Maersk Tankers’ technical management business I transferred over to become part of the Synergy team. It was a smooth transition and I enjoy easy collaboration with my new colleagues.
4. Please describe a typical seafaring day.
It is cliché but correct to say that there is no such thing. Every manoeuvre, cargo operation and watch is different, with infinite variety due to greatly changeable circumstances and the differing ways in which people work, behave and react. No two jobs, watches or days are ever the same.
5. What do you enjoy most about working at sea?
I really enjoy the Bridge watch, where the immediate work environment is just a few steps away – though of course the big picture is near and far, and all around – the wide variety of challenging roles and the cross-ocean voyages.
6. What is the one thing that should change to make life better on board?
If, sometimes, crew numbers could increase, that would certainly help, and I am sure that the industry would see less work overload, fatigue and accidents.
7. Have you faced any particular challenges as a female seafarer?
Yes, when I first started, and I think that was typical of what was, and in some places still is, a much changing situation. However, I rapidly built confidence – and my male colleagues did, too – and I was soon able to collaborate easily with everyone.
8. Female seafarers are still comparatively scarce, but things are changing for the better. Do you agree?
Yes, things are improving, and most male seafarers have now become comfortable working with female colleagues. However, for one reason because there are, still, so very few female seafarers, the maritime sector is still way behind the curve on gender equality. Word gets around, of course, and the general view among women at sea is that many are still ignored, underrated and isolated. That is a sorry state that shows there is still a long way to go.
9. What are some of the advantages of having women on board?
Just the same as having women in a team or a department on shore (i.e. there is no particular magic in being on a ship) those that include men and women have greater innovation, and with the wider diversity you have more viewpoints. I think women tackle problems more holistically than men. They generally show more empathy, and are good listeners and offer new perspectives in decision-making.
10. What further changes do you think the maritime industry needs to make to improve gender equality and attract more women to a career in seafaring?
The main ones are (a) establish scholarship programmes for women (b) before female cadets join their first vessel, arrange mentoring by experienced female seafarers (c) always have at least two women on every vessel, so they can provide each other with support and understanding (d) arrange seminars on gender diversity and (e) provide sanitary items on board, and also suitable overalls and safety shoes, though I know that Synergy is ahead on these latter things.
11. What are your aspirations and where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope that in five years I will have attained the rank of Chief Officer and will have passed the examination for becoming a Master.
12. What do you do when you are ashore?
On the rare occasions when I can get there for any length of time I like to see the great outdoors and eat whatever local food is going.
13. If you ever changed to a completely shore-based role, what would you miss most about working at sea?
I would very much miss the Bridge watch, which as you see from 5 above is a great favourite, and the wide variety of challenging roles.
14. Share something interesting about yourself that we might not know.
In my free time I do charcoal drawings, and I like to make charity donations.
15. What advice would you give to anyone considering a career at sea, and also to young female seafarers?
Before choosing this career, youngsters should talk to experienced seafarers and become fully aware of the pros and cons. Even though, still, across the industry overall, women have to work harder to receive the same level of recognition as men, to my mind working at sea has more advantages than disadvantages.