Date: 01/12/2023

Maritime SheEO hosts its 4th annual international conference for maritime diversity in Mumbai

The Maritime SheEO Conference 2023, one of the largest international conferences for diversity and inclusion in the maritime sector, took place on November 21, 2023, at The Taj Santacruz in Mumbai. It was also live-streamed globally. This conference, the brainchild of Ms Sanjam Sahi Gupta, Founder of Maritime SheEO and Director of Sitara Shipping, drew 250 delegates from roughly 80 nations worldwide with a 60:40 gender ratio – where 60% of the attendees were women, as per a communique.
The majority of attendees were from the maritime community, including shipowners, educational institution professionals, ship managers, supply chain exporters, and liner and port personnel. In addition, around 1,000 people participated virtually. 
Sanjam opened the conference with the traditional lighting of the lamp.  She then welcomed everyone in attendance.  In her address, she emphasised that diversity is not merely a buzzword; it is the heartbeat of progress, the essence of innovation and the soul of a thriving society. There has been significant progress in gender diversity over the years, with the industry taking substantial steps, she said. She also highlighted some of the initiatives of Maritime SheEO, such as its study on the ‘Business Case for Diversity in India’, which was featured by UNCTAD, and the IMO-funded Leadership Accelerator Programme for women in maritime which has benefited women globally.
Mr Shyam Jagannathan, IAS, Director General of Shipping, Directorate General of Shipping (DGS), also spoke at the inaugural session, highlighting the policy initiatives under Maritime India Vision 2030, and the DGS to boost the participation of women in seafaring and the wider maritime industry. These encompass improving the market sentiment towards recruitment of women, gender sensitisation across the board, incentivising the supply side through scholarships, waving tuition fee etc., and the demand side by evaluating and nudging domestic shipping companies to hire more women seafarers. 
He also touched upon DGS’ ‘Sagar mein Sammaan’ (Honour at Sea) initiative, the objective of which is to chart a course towards an inclusive future, champion the role of women in India in shipping as well as the entire maritime sector, involving academia, policy framework, industry, training institutes, media – all congregating around honour at sea.
Key speakers
Professionals from the maritime sector spoke at the conference, leading talks, panel discussions and presentations focusing on the value of diversity for growth and innovation. About 50 speakers covered a wide range of subjects which included,  Sustainable Shipping Practices, The power of the media in elevating women role models, Sustainable Shipping Practices, Bringing our diversity ambitions to life, Women in bio-fouling and marine plastic litter, Psychological Security – Transforming Workplace Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Policies, Tackling Tomorrow’s key maritime issues. 
The impressive line-up  of keynote speakers included:
* Consul General Arne Jan Flolo, Royal Norwegian Consulate General, Mumbai
* H.E. Cecilie Myrseth, Minister of Trade and Industries, Norway
* H.E. Folakemi Akinleye, Ambassador of Nigeria to the Philippines and Cambodia
* H.E. Yasiel Burillo, Ambassador and Consul General of Panama to India
* Mr Arsenio Dominguez, Secretary General Elect of the IMO
* Capt. Dinesh Jairam, Global Talent Acquisition Manager, Seaspan India
* Christina Saenz de Santa Maria, VP, Regional Manager, S E Asia Pacific & India, DNV
* Dr Malini Shankar, IAS (Retd), Vice Chancellor at Indian Maritime University
There were several empowering speeches from the designated speakers, both in person and online who provided their distinct viewpoints based on their experiences and insights, which were both inspiring and educational for the numerous companies and individuals in attendance. Many more eminent delegates shared the dais and took part in other panel discussions and interviews that were equally captivating and enlightening.
Among the panelists were Capt. Milind K. Patankar - Head, Ship Owning Division, Transworld Group & MD, SSLL; Daljit Singh Kohli - India Representative, Port of Antwerp-Bruges; Avishkar Srivastava - Chief Innovation Officer at The PDP Group; Ted Muttiah - Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) at South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT); and Vinita Venkatesh - Managing Director at Ocean2Door
Skills & knowledge
Dr Malini Shankar, IAS (Retd), Vice Chancellor at Indian Maritime University (IMU), stressed on the importance of constant review and renewal of the training and education syllabus for the benefit of students, in which the industry too has to play a key role. She also touched upon the criticality of skills, especially analytical skills, and the IMU’s focus on short-term post-sea courses for upgrading skillsets. IMU is also formulating a flexible MBA programme specifically for CoC holders, initially for the nautical side, which it hopes to launch early next year.
More and more women are coming forward with enthusiasm to be a part of this sector, she said, pointing out that women in technical courses at IMU has increased from 2% in 2008 to 9% today. In naval architecture, it is 27%. There is a mindset issue in the industry, which needs to change, she added.
Another highlight of the conference was the awards presentation to companies as well as individuals in various categories. Among the companies that received awards were Seaspan Corporation for Best Practices in Diversity, Allied ICD Services Ltd for the most Diverse Board, and Fleet Management Limited & South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT) for Best Practices in Sustainability. 
Individual awards were presented to the following winners in various categories – Lifetime Achievement Award - Mrs H K Joshi; Brilliant SheEO (Nomination by Association) – Dr Sharmila H. Amin; Champion of Diversity – Pirojshaw Sarkari (Phil) and Capt. Dinesh Jairam; SheEO of the Year – Kruti Jobanputra and Alison Cusack; SheEO to watch out for – Dr Deepti Mankad; SheEO of the Year – Katherine “Karen” Avelino.  
Sanjam Sahi Gupta concluded the conference with a closing note and thanked all those who attended the conference and made it a truly memorable event. Overall, it was a successful day that, hopefully, changed a lot of mindsets to shape a brighter future for the maritime industry, the communique added.
Source: Exim News Service: Mumbai, Nov. 30