MCC Transport is proud of the fact that it has many women leaders and in celebration of the International Women’s Day, we’re sharing an inspiring story of one female leader in this special feature of Aspire.
Many are saying that maritime is a male-dominated industry, but over the years women are entering this arena, creating remarkable influence and success. MCC Transport is proud of the fact that it has many women leaders and in celebration of the International Women’s Day, we’re sharing an inspiring story of one female leader in this special feature of Aspire.
Mariel Metzker, the Country Operations Lead Manager, knew exactly what she wanted the moment she had the opportunity to experience all functions when she joined Maersk as a MISE Trainee – that is to work in Operations. It’s a tough field of work and many perceived it to be a “men’s world”, yet she was able break barriers to emerge as one of the most inspiring women leader in the industry.
Let’s get to know Mariel
After graduating college, Mariel joined Maersk as a MISE Trainee or Maersk International Shipping Education Trainee, a three-year intensive management training wherein she was assigned in several functions to understand the business and gain experience within the industry. When she finished her stint, she was assigned in North Carolina to work as Intermodal Operations Analyst for Maersk Line.
After more than two years, she went back to the Philippines to handle the Country Operations of MCC Transport. Then eventually transferring to the Headquarters of MCC in Singapore as String Manager. Now she is the Country Operations Lead Manager of MCC Headquarters.
Let’s get to know more of Mariel’s story, insights and her advice for women in the workplace in this interview.
1. Take us back to the time when you were still starting out, why did you choose to be in the shipping industry?
I was a fresh graduate with a degree in Management & Psychology (a strange combination) and as a 20-year old, my priority at that time was to get a job so I can see the world. When my university’s career office featured Maersk, who were then hiring for the MISE (Maersk International Shipping Education) program – with a promise of a global career where you will get to see the world, I was hooked!
2. One can say that Operations in a shipping company is a male-dominated career path. As a woman, would you say it has been challenging for you to build a career in this particular path? Tell us about your experience.
In the MISE program, we had job rotations and Ops was my introduction to shipping – and I enjoyed it from the get-go. Ops gives you that first-hand experience of the business, and it gave me a kick (still does!) to see all those ships, containers, terminal machinery working. And the people – of course. Ops people are never boring.
But yes – it is traditionally male-dominated, and I’ve had my fair share of challenges. My authority and judgment have been questioned because of my gender, and there are certain groups that are difficult to be part of simply because some men tend to band. Fortunately, I have strong women role models whom I took cues from on how to deal with industry stakeholders who are inclined to dealing with men. Over the years, I have seen more and more women make their mark in Operations which is encouraging.
Regardless of the field you choose to get into - know what you are talking about, be upright when dealing with people, and know how to adapt to the situation you’re in. That has worked for me so far.
3. What’s been your biggest learning as you progressed in your career to become the Country Operations Lead Manager?
To do things whole-heartedly – with passion and dedication. Cliché, but If you love what you’re doing and do your best, things will take off and you will enjoy the results.
4. This year’s International Women’s Day focuses on “gender parity,” what’s your take on that?
There are many places around the world where men have an obvious social and economic advantage over women. Are we ever going to be equal? I hope so! But it will take political will, time and effort. Opportunities through formal organizations and informal groups need to be created for this parity to be achieved. Women, for our part, need to overcome our own personal & mental barriers – and grab good breaks when they come across. I see our generation positively using technology to spread awareness for this issue – and this is something we must encourage.
5. Any message to women in the organization who aspire to be leaders or those who simply wanted to be the best version of themselves?
Take advantage of opportunities when they come – better yet, seek and create them for yourself! “Acting like a man” is not the answer. As women, we are powerful and strong in our own right, and have natural abilities we should make the most of. They say women are the more emotional gender – do not take that negatively. Emotion shows passion, and it is only a liability when you let it cloud your judgment. Use the adversity and challenges we face daily as learning opportunities. At the end of the day – be a good person. Be kind.