Women make lifting ships easier
From carpentry to procurement, welding to training, the women at Elgin Brown & Hamer (EBH) Namibia, contribute to make the operator of the Walvis Bay floating drydocks, a maritime factor on the African west coast.
“As women at EBH we are given the chance to study and grow in our careers. We feel honoured, and empowered to make decisions,” said Klaudia Shitthigona, acting Technical Training Officer in the HR Department.
Hannes Uys, Chief Executive Officer of EBH Namibia said “In a globally competitive industry such as shipping, where world-class standards have to consistently be achieved, the skills of each and every individual, regardless of gender, have to be nurtured and maximised.”
On female employees specifically, Uys said “We believe that EBH Namibia has made significant headway when it comes to setting the trend in empowering women in the maritime sector, bridging the gender gap on many levels.”
Elizabeth Mandume, Carpentry Foreman at EBH Namibia, enjoys the culture of inclusivity in the company and the support she receives from management in problem-solving. Mandume has moved up the ranks from artisan to supervisor level, something she puts down not only to hard work and self-belief; but to the benefits of ongoing training and support.
“The company has empowered me in my role as supervisor. I appreciate the opportunities I have had for further training at this level. This includes attending an international conference where I learnt a lot through networking with other women leaders in the maritime industry in Africa” she said.
Klaudia Shitthingona appreciates a culture of equal rights admitting that the maritime environment can be “hard and tough”, and that women need to be well-prepared when it comes to negotiating prices and contracts with their male counterparts. “You need to stand your ground and be prepared to win an argument!” she advised adding that she believes many employers prefer women because they work in a clearer, more organised and structured way.
For Candice Damens, Organisational Development and Training Superintendent, it is essential for a woman in a male-dominated industry to be confident. We have come a long way, but I believe women still have a lot to prove within the vocational sphere.
“What I appreciate about EBH Namibia,” she said “is that I can raise my opinions and concerns and make decisions in a manner which is respected and given fair consideration by management.”
Mona-Lisa Katjivari, who has worked as buyer in Procurement and Logistics for seven years, said she has grown in confidence and character since joining the company.
“The greatest thing is that I received my Grade 12 certificate, as well as my Higher Certificate in Logistics Management through the company’s development programme. I knew nothing about this industry when I joined but through the training and courses, I am proud that I am able to work independently and with confidence in the shipping industry.”
Being tough but fair
Communication skills have also paid off for Delila Dausas, an Office Assistant in the Finance Department. “A customer focus is so important in this industry. It can be a challenging environment, but it is important to just be yourself. Real talent will rise to the top, male or female.”