A Celebration of Women in MCC 07 March 2017

When one thinks of the maritime industry, it may be common to think that it’s not an industry for women.

Cargo shipping may be a traditionally male-dominated industry, however, we in MCC take pride in the fact that we have numerous excellent, career-driven women in our workforce who contribute to our company’s success every single day. 

So on this year’s International Women’s Day, as we celebrate the achievements of women across the world, let us get acquainted with two of the many inspirational women leaders in MCC, Kara Abapo and Stella Huang. 

kara

Question: What made you interested to work in the maritime industry, particularly in MCC?
Kara: It’s been more than a decade now but back then I already knew I wanted to work in the Maersk Group because of the learning and career opportunities that the organization offers. Through the years, I’ve proven this to be true. I’ve been in varied roles, all with exciting experiences, and this one in MCC is no different. It’s always good to be part of a winning team.

Question: What would you say is the greatest advantage and disadvantage to being a woman in a male-dominated industry?
Kara: Being the minority, you stand out and that’s a double-edged sword. It’s up to you how you use that kind of attention. Either own the stage to create magic, or risk fading into the background as a stereotype. I’m a believer in the value that diversity brings, it makes for interesting team dynamics and that usually brings out the best in people. We each have our own strengths; we just have to be smart about when and where we use it. 

Question: Can you tell us about the biggest challenge you had to face as a woman leader, and how you overcame it?
Kara: Ironically, the biggest barrier is oneself. I read an article that claims men who aren’t half as qualified for a job apply for it anyway and get the job, while a woman with all the qualifications may hesitate and overanalyze only to end up not applying at all. I think it’s hardwired in us to pursue perfection, sometimes to the detriment of our own advancement. I learned the hard way that second-guessing myself earlier in my career cost me an attractive opportunity. I’ve since stopped letting insecurities get in the way of my aspirations.

Question: What advice can you give to women who also aspire to be leaders?
Kara: I’m lucky to have had female bosses who were great role models and male bosses who were my champions, not because I was a woman but because I did my job well. So cultivate a relationship with your manager (and mentors other than your direct boss) that encourages healthy discussion about your growth. Regardless of your gender, perform, keep it clean and protect your brand. When you become a leader yourself, be generous with your time and wisdom; pay it forward.

stella

Question: What made you interested to work in the maritime industry, particularly in MCC?
Stella: The maritime industry is diverse, complex and challenging, and leading a team to success through all of these is the motivation. I entered the industry through Maersk, an organization that offers opportunities for learning and advancement. When I joined MCC, the company was still new to the Intra-Asia market yet it expanded rapidly, like a baby growing up healthily under precious care. We’ve fought many beautiful battles through the years and witnessed the company evolve into what it is today. MCC is now a big name in the market, and I am honored to be part of the Intra-Asia Project and its’ success along with my team. 

Question: What would you say is the greatest advantage and disadvantage to being a woman in a male-dominated industry?
Stella: Gender differentiation is no more obvious in the industry in my view. MCC offers men and women equal opportunities in any career path. My opinions are respected by the company and colleagues, and I feel that people actually find it refreshing to hear the views of women in a male-dominated industry. 

Question: Can you tell us about the biggest challenge you had to face as a woman leader, and how you overcame it?
Stella: Being a mother of a 6-year old boy while keeping a company running smoothly can be a challenge. Unlike full time moms, I couldn’t search enough school information as they do. I’m not able to talk with his teachers to check on how he’s doing as often as I’d like and I feel like I could do better in spending more time with him. Balancing work and life takes huge effort, but it’s possible through efficiency at work, managing leisure time and limiting evening work-related activities to important events. I try to spend at least 1-2 hours with my son after work, and spend the weekends and vacations exclusively with my family. I use the 30-40minute travel time to and from work to read and learn something new. 

Question: What advice can you give to women who also aspire to be leaders?
Stella: Try to sleep well to refresh your mind for the next day. Have an operating system for both work and personal life, and have at least one hobby that relaxes you. Continue to learn with an open mind and always be confident; do not worry about perceptions. Women make a difference and so can you.  

Happy International Women’s Day to everyone! We’d love to hear YOUR story, share it with us through socialmedia@mcc.com.sg

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