When clients talk to Jorunn Eldøy about the challenges of operating in the harsh and hazardous offshore environment, she truly understands the difficulties they face.
She knows how critical it is to build a competent and compliant workforce; how operators depend on being able to deploy the right people for the job; and how testing it is to manage digitalisation against a backdrop of limited connectivity. She knows not only because she listens intently to what they have to say – she knows because she has lived it.
Although now based onshore in Mintra’s office in Amsterdam and working as a key account manager, Jorunn started her career in a very different environment. She was employed as a document controller at a gas platform construction yard in Norway and found herself working and effectively living in the North Sea during the final stages of project delivery.
The next step in her career journey saw her join a chemical tanker company – Jo Tankers – as a crew manager with responsibility for hiring officers, managing their progression and ensuring they got access to the right training and certifications. Although based in Norway, Jorunn would spend long periods of time in the Philippines – an area which she describes as having a rich pool of talent – managing and developing local seafarers.
Jorunn said: “The experience of going offshore is something I will never forget. When you are in that environment, you understand from day one the importance of safety on board a rig. It starts the moment you get on the helicopter to fly out there, and you never stop thinking about it until you fly back home again.
“I’ve been there and lived it – both offshore and in shipping – so I can relate to the situation that our customers are in and the challenges of their industry. That real life experience has been so helpful to me in my role with Mintra as I can communicate the true value that our products can bring to those working in the marine and offshore environment.”
Jorunn works with customers to identify processes where the whole suite of Mintra’s products, from Trainingportal to OCS HR and all its associated modules, can be applied to develop people and drive efficiencies.
She believes that Mintra’s push into the maritime industry – its recent acquisition of the digital learning and crew competence management specialists, Safebridge, being the trigger for a rapid expansion in the sector – is happening at a pivotal moment.
“Covid-19 has impacted the sector in a major way, from personnel not being able to attend classroom training to build the competencies required for working in such a heavily regulated industry, to the logistical issues of crew movement under international travel restrictions,” said Jorunn.
“The maritime sector now finds itself having to increase investment in digital solutions for training and crew management like never before, and they are looking for partners who can guide them. We are in a fortunate position where we have the knowledge, the real life experience and the tools to help customers respond to the challenge.
“Take, for example, OCS HR. It’s a complete crew management solution designed for businesses with complex workforce needs. It ensures our customers have the right people with the right competencies in the right place at the right time by managing crew data, rotations, competence needs, training and travel. Getting it right pre-Covid was a balancing act, and with this pandemic there are even more moving parts to consider.
“It’s an incredibly exciting time for Mintra and it’s great to be in the middle of it. Our union with Safebridge and the knowledge and products that have been added to the Mintra family opens up so many possibilities.”
And, it’s not only opening up possibilities for the maritime sector that is front and centre with Jorunn. She is a passionate board member of the Dutch branch of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) – a global organisation connecting the industry’s female executives and decision makers.
One of the key objectives of WISTA is to support and attract women to the maritime, trading and logistics sectors and to address gender imbalance at leadership level. The organisation recently joined forces with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to launch a global survey aimed at gathering baseline data on the number of women in the industry, along with their positions, to fuel future conversations on workplace diversity.
Jorunn explained: “I first learned about WISTA around five years ago before I joined Mintra and was working as an independent consultant. I liked what the organisation stood for. Since becoming a member I’ve really benefited from being part of the network and the very supportive environment it has created.
“As a female executive in maritime, it is very often the case that you are the only woman in the room: WISTA wants to change that. I believe that it is becoming easier for women to enter and progress in the industry and while we have come a long way in the past 10 to 15 years, there is still work to be done.
“Women have often felt that they are unable, for example, to consider a career at sea where they may be away from home for three months at a time. They feel they must make sacrifices, but those women who want to explore that career should get the same treatment and opportunities.
“The number of female captains and deck officers is still very small in comparison to male but with a new generation of women who are driving forward change, I do believe that the gap is going to get smaller.
“I have two daughters aged 13 and 15 and it is important for me to be a role model for them. I want every opportunity to be open to them; for them to be able to look at a career path and know that being a woman should not stop them.
“Every child has the potential to achieve astounding things. But for girls everywhere, that potential is often cut short by discrimination and inequality. It does not mean that men and woman have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities in life will not depend on whether they are born male or female.”
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