Women in the Marine Industry inaugural event at Seawork

The inaugural Women in the Marine Industry event was held at Seawork

On Wednesday 4 July, the Women in the Marine Industry inaugural Networking Event was held at Seawork, with nearly 80 women in attendance to listen to keynote speakers Katy Ware, Director of Maritime Safety and Standards, MCA and Suzanne Blaustone, CEO, Barton Marine.

Fiona Pankhurst, Head of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Mercator Media welcomed everyone to the event and gave a short speech highlighting the opening of the Seawork exhibition by the first woman Maritime Minister, who announced the Women in Maritime Charter pledge. and the announcement of the first female CEO for British Marine. She explained that the Women in Marine Industry informal network existed to help provide a framework to support and encourage and grow the awareness of industry opportunities for women in the maritime sector, and then welcomed the speakers.

Katy Ware captivated the audience with a heartfelt speech outlining her own 19-year career path with the MCA, culminating in her current appointment as Director of Maritime Safety and Standards - the first ever female executive director at the MCA.  In 2011, she was also appointed as the Permanent Representative of the UK to the International Maritime Organization, a post she still holds today.

Known affectionately in the marine press as the ‘Hard hat to high heels diplomat’, she highlighted the current statistics for women employed in the merchant navy – 2%; out of the 14,500 merchant navy officers, women make up 3% of the workforce, decreasing to 2% for engineer officers.

Katy then explained that the biggest mistake of her career was doing it all on her own, she went on to stress the importance of networking with other female colleagues, stating that her biggest piece of advice would be; “Be kind to each other!  It is vital that women support each other in this male-dominated industry and help guide and mentor each other.”

Suzanne Blaustone, explained that she was proud to sponsor the first Women in the Marine Industry event at Seawork and went to highlight her personal career path, that began after graduating from University in California, when she moved to Chicago to work in sales in the steel industry.  She was the only woman in sales in the American steel industry at the time.  After achieving great success in this industry, she moved into polyurethane sales, working with 3M on marine coatings.

Suzanne made a moving tribute to her former partner, the late David Coleman of Barton Marine, and explained how her personal loss had affected her and how she had turned that into the motivation to grow the company.  As CEO, Suzanne and her team at Barton Marine have seen the company go from strength to strength; Barton Marine now has 26 employees and enjoyed its most successful year ever last year.

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