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“Stay focused on your goal,” COO Starzs Investment Coy tells girls aspiring for maritime careers

COO Starzs Investment Company Ltd., Iroghama Ogbeifun-Obuoforibo

Young and vibrant Chief
Operating Officer (COO) of Starzs Investment Company Ltd., Iroghama
Ogbeifun-Obuoforibo, has advised young women who are desirous of taking up jobs
and pursuing careers in the maritime industry to stay focused on whatever goals
they have in mind.

Obuoforibo, who is also
the Chairman, Finance& Membership Committee, Ship Owners Association of
Nigeria (SOAN), talks on the  very many
opportunities women could be opened to in the maritime industry if they pursue
their dream committedly and ensure that they get requisite training. She also
believes that team platforms including Women’s International Shipping and
Trading Association (WISTA), Women In Maritime Africa (WIMA), Women in
Logistics and Transport(WiLAT) and several others will do a lot in helping
young women shape their path in a career in the maritime industry.
In this interview, as
the 2019 ‘Day of the Seafarer’ being celebrated today focuses on empowering
women in the maritime industry, Iroghama shares more, with particular reference
to the dangers of stereotyping women’s role in the work environment and how it
had caused quite a number of women to abandon their careers for ‘home-front’
What are the opportunities like for women in
maritime in Nigeria?
There are various
opportunities available from serving on board vessels as an officer to being a
surveyor with any of the class societies, to being a trainer at a training
institute, to being a HSE professional,  being an executive in a maritime organisation.
I believe that the important thing is being properly trained and developing the
relevant competencies to qualify for these opportunities.
How well have the women keyed into the
available opportunities?  Importantly too,  what obvious or seeming
challenges are they faced with?
I believe some women
have had the “balls” to seize the available opportunities despite the
mounting obstacles against them. For example, many ships do not have the bed space
to accommodate female seafarers as they will lose the extra bathing spaces they
have, since a woman will require her privacy on board. Most vessel owners will
rather not deal with this inconvenience
, but it is an
intentional sacrifice that must b
e made to give equal opportunities. Being a
female executive in a top-ranking maritime logistics company, I am particularly
pro-female participation in the seafaring trade and as such we have empowered
over 6 female seafarers through our cadetship program
, some of whom have
gone on to become officers and others who chose to work from the office. We
currently have a female second engineer who has been with us since her
cadetship training
, and 2 female cadets serving onboard our fleet. I find that
society’s demand and stereotype of the role of women in our environment causes
most of these potentially high-flying female seafarers to abandon their careers
along the way for the call of marital/motherhood duties. I believe that it will
be worthwhile if women who choose this path are given more support both in
their communities and within organizations by way of charting a career path
that take into consideration these long term family plans and unconditional
support. For participation in other aspects of the industry, women need to
educate themselves about the various career paths and not be deterred by the
male dominance that is apparent. We have to be as committed, dedicated and
dogged just as much as our male counterparts. We cannot request for gender
parity on one end and female consideration on the other. 
How remarkable will it be,  if
necessary,  for  women to use team platforms to further establish their
presence and impact in the maritime industry in Nigeria?
It will be absolutely
remarkable if the available platforms are utilised effectively. There are
wonderful platforms such as WISTA (Women International Shipping & Trading
Association) that encourage, educate and expose women to opportunities and industry
information. It is also an avenue to network with established women in the
industry locally and internationally. Lastly, these platforms avail women an
contribute to
discussions that shape policy formulation within the industry.
A word of advice/encouragement for female
cadets and other young girls who desire to pursue a career in the maritime
Stay focused on your goal and what you’re trying to achieve,
I know the journey can be long but be committed, remember that you are doing
this for every young girl out there who dreams of an opportunity such as this.
By fulfilling your goal of a successful career in the maritime industry, you
are telling every young girl out there, You can be on board too!!

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