Lisa shares her story of life at sea during our Women's Month series of interviews in support of International Women's Day 2017.
Q: What sector do you work in?
I have a background in cruise ships.
Q: What is your rank/role?
I am a chief engineer on a megayacht.
Q: Why did you decide on a career at sea?
Cruiseships looked fun with a great lifestyle, status and travel as seen from tv shows. In the 1990s, at our school, your career options were limited to university or getting married and there was no internet then.
Q: In your seafaring career what do you sonsider may have been your 'boldest moment'?
My boldest decision was to leave the cruise industry after 12 years and go to private yachts. It wasn't easy, but when I was working as an MCA surveyor briefly, I got the opportunity to work for one of the best yachts and outfits afloat. I took the opportunity to move my life forward both financially and professionally, as I always loved the idea of yachts and knew I could not turn it down.
In all honesty, the driving force between a career away from normality has a lot to do with money as you progress further.
Q: What are the main issues you currently face?
There are not enough women working in a deck or engine career capacity on the same ship, so this can feel isolating and a self-imposed pressure no matter how well you get on with women – or men – in other departments. This won't change while it is impossible for some woman to combine being married, have children and be away for months on end at sea.
Q: What, if any, gender bullying, harassment or discrimination have your experienced?
I have not experienced any bullying. There are some big egos out there that can make people seem bullies, but that’s more interdepartmental politics.
Q: How do you think women can be encouraged to feel welcome at sea and retained once they are there?
I really don't know the answer to that question. In my experience cruise ships or yachts are less isolating for women, and offer possibilities for shorter offshore contract position.
Q: Where do you see your future? At sea or ashore?
Ashore consulting part-time.
Q: Would you recommend seafaring as a career?
As long as the companies keep trip lengths above 6 weeks this will always be an issue for many women — as being away is not condusive to a balanced life for the long term.