Thirty women from maritime administrations across the globe have completed the first ever Leadership Accelerator Programme (LEAP) run by Maritime SheEO, designed to equip women with leadership skills and the confidence to progress in their careers. Following the success of the first iteration, IMO has committed to sponsoring another group of future women leaders in the second half of this year.
The programme, which ran over eight-weeks, was announced in November 2020 and launched on International Women’s Day in March 2022. It was part of the IMO’s Women in Maritime programme and run in collaboration with the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA International). The participants were a mix of candidates from the eight IMO-established Women in Maritime Associations (WIMAs) and WISTA International.
A virtual graduation ceremony for participants was held on 30 June 2022.
IMO’s Head of Africa and manager of the Women in Maritime programme, William Azuh says, “The Maritime SheEO programme is focused on building competence, which is one of the most important factors that organisations consider when choosing leaders. Programmes like these are very important to build an individual’s confidence as they go into leadership and the confidence of the sector in appointing leaders from historically marginalised communities. We look forward to supporting the next edition of the Maritime SheEO programme and will be releasing details of the programme in due course.”
The LEAP blended-learning course, which includes self-paced learning as well as small group coaching, is designed to enhance personal development of leadership skills through modules on building professional networks, strategic thinking, persuasive communication and more. Despite challenging schedules, course statistics show that participants completed and submitted 90% of compulsory coursework on time. Sixty per cent (1,800) of the 3,000 optional self-learning modules have already been accessed by participants.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Sanjam Gupta, Founder, Maritime SheEO said, “It has a long journey to get to this point of the Maritime SheEO leadership accelerator programme and the graduating class’ success is a testament to their hard work. All the women on this course were putting in the work in addition to their full-time jobs and many of them continued with the programme despite being ill with COVID. I am very proud of their work and everyone running this programme is invested in their success as they are the future leaders of the maritime industry.”
Despina Theodosiou, President, WISTA International added, “It has been highlighted during the years that the path a woman must take to advance to top positions is more difficult than it may be for men. But that shouldn’t be the case. Leaders in any profession and of any gender should be able to direct, encourage, and inspire others. I think the most important about this course is that it gives women equal opportunity [as that granted to men] and the means to succeed.”
The women participating in the course have varying degrees of maritime work experience, with careers that range from just a few months to over two decades. The networking opportunities created within the course have benefitted attendees and many of the graduates of the course have already reported career progression because of the training and support they received.
Zahra Al Lawati from Oman said, “I can use the programme and contents in my actual work and could actually experience the benefits. One of the important things I learned from the programme was the power of the ask. I asked for a promotion and have been granted that.”
Priscilla Koufie from Ghana said, “Joining LEAP and listening to other women and their success stories has been the most resounding wake up call. The self-paced courses have helped me in my day-to-day activities in my office and have led me to talk to my boss about taking up new ventures.”
Kenyan graduate Virginia Muindi said, “The programme triggered in me the growth mindset. I took the step to approach our general manager for an office position and it has worked out for me.”