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An Industry for All – Arooj Iftekhar

We’re back with more of ‘An Industry for All’… and this time it’s our pleasure to introduce you to Arooj Iftekhar, Communication and ESG Advisor at Wilhelmsen Port Services in Singapore.

Keep your eyes peeled for further interviews as we continue to showcase and celebrate diversity, inclusion and talent within shipping.

And if there’s someone you know who deserves a turn in our spotlight on equality and opportunity within maritime, please do get in touch!

Take it away Arooj…

What is your current position and how long have you had the role?

I started with Wilhelmsen Holding in 2018 when I was still a student, working as a part-time employee in their corporate communications team. Since joining full-time in 2019, I have worked closely with several of our group companies, recently starting in my new role as Communication and ESG advisor for Wilhelmsen Port Services in Singapore.

How did you get involved in the maritime industry?

To be honest, it was just a lucky coincidence. I was job-hunting during my studies when I saw a Wilhelmsen advert for the previously mentioned part-time position. I didn’t know much about the industry, but I was lucky enough to have a fantastic manager and team to show me the ropes.  

Why do you believe people should consider a future within the maritime industry? 

There are so many possibilities and disciplines – logistics, marketing, finance, IT, and engineering to name a few, we have it all! So, if you get an idea of what your talents are, and what excites you the most, there’s bound to be a place where you can make your mark within the maritime value chain.

What key lessons have you learnt during your time in the industry – what advice would you give to others?

Some tasks and challenges can be a bit daunting, but with preparation, research and commitment, anything is possible. So, be open to taking on new challenges. With the right attitude, you can gain experience from a huge variety of projects, really building a diverse and valuable range of competencies.

What do you think are the industry’s key strengths and weaknesses – how would you like to see it evolve?

The industry’s inbuilt strength, in my opinion, is its potential for positive collaborations and partnerships. We need to work together to further advance technology and renewable solutions if we are to reach the 2050 net zero ambition. In Wilhelmsen, we have a long history of collaborating with schools, governmental institutions, and other leading companies in our industry. This leads to powerful results, as we can see with projects like the autonomous vessel Yara Birkeland. I hope to see much more of this going forward.

In terms of weaknesses, I believe the opportunity and willingness to alter to new services and innovations could be better. Although shipping is heading towards the digital shift, it can still feel a little reluctant to adapt, especially when compared to the tempo of change we have seen in many B2C companies and industries.

What do you like best about a) your current role and b) the industry in general?

Having relocated to Singapore, it really feels like I’m at the centre of things. From working with internal and external communications, in addition to environmental initiatives, I am now able to get hands-on experience from our operational business in a world-leading maritime hub as well.  

My favourite thing about the industry must be the global network, and all the endless opportunities and ideas that come with it. Working with such a diverse crowd and pool of resources really enables us to find great solutions and develop a problem-solving approach.

What are your personal ambitions within the industry?

Within the next five to ten years, I hope to have further developed my project and management skills and be able to position myself as an engaging leader. I want to look back on my career and be proud of the work I have done – to be proud that I took on challenges that seemed too big at the time. In addition to this, I am currently taking online courses at Bocconi University in strategy and sustainability, to further upskill myself towards the green shift we are facing.

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