More than 100 senior professionals from the shipping and related industries gathered on 10 May 2018 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) in Singapore.
The gathering saw a host of shipping and trade professionals from Singapore and all over the world listen to some lively discussion on current issues in the global shipping industry while at the same time celebrate two decades of the association.
Themed “UnlockingAsia – Opportunities and Threats”, the conference took place at the historic Hotel Fort Canning and focused on significant issues impacting ports and terminals, cyber security and Belt and Road Initiatives.
The guest of honour at the conference was Ms Tan Beng Tee, the Assistant Chief Executive (Development) of Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), who gave the keynote address.
In her address, Ms Tan said: “The theme of today’s conference is relevant, as the centre of economic gravity increasingly shifts towards Asia. The industry is also seeing unprecedented consolidation within the liner segment, greater emphasis on technology and new business models being formulated.”
She added: “As for preparing the maritime industry for the future, I hope we will see more women join the maritime sector. When I first entered the industry, it was really a male dominated industry, quite daunting and one has to really work hard to be heard. Today, the environment is different, we see more women joining the industry, heading international organisations and helming family businesses.”
Participants also heard from an impressive line-up of speakers including Lim Sim Keat, Managing Director (Transport Logistics) of IMC Industrial Group, Vivian Ang, Partner of Allen & Gledhill LLP and Karin Orsel, CEO of MF Shipping Group.
The conference concluded with an insightful and interactive panel with input from successful “role model” women in the maritime industry discussing how they got to be where they are, the challenges they face as well as the outlook for the industry and the role women must play in future.
The conference received very positive feedback from the participants.
Shirani Wanniarachchi, Finance Director of Sri Lanka Ports Authority, said: “I was happy to see the focus on diversity in the shipping industry. The contributions from women in this industry have increased in recent years. This conference was a great event for us to build our network as well as to share ideas to bring more breakthrough to our industry.”
Juni Dani, Senior Partner of Budijaja International Lawyers, commented: “This was my first WISTA conference and I was excited to see so many members around the world gathered together. I think the conference played an important role for many women in the shipping industry to build networks and form support groups. I hope we can bring this to Indonesia and set up a WISTA chapter there soon.”
Ms Magdalene Chew, President of WISTA Singapore, added: “We are honoured to have had the opportunity to host such a vibrant and energetic conference and we hope the speakers and delegates alike learned new things, made new connections and felt inspired to make a difference, and above all, we hope everyone had an enjoyable time.
“Gender diversity in shipping and international trade is undoubtably necessary for our industry to progress. WISTA is the platform for us to demonstrate such diversity. I am heartened to see the industry has progressively altered its mind-set towards gender diversity such that many women are now empowered to take up leadership roles. This must continue if the shipping industry is to remain dynamic and attractive to the brightest talent.
I also want to thank everyone who has made this event possible; from sponsors to supporting organisations and our media partners.”