If Superheroes had a Maritime Day Job (Part 2)
We’ve always thought of superheroes as role models with supernatural powers, but we might just have more in common than we think.
In fact, all of us are in our own ways, superheroes. While we might not be able to fly at high speeds or lift tonnes of cargo with just our fingers, the resolve that we all share in solving problems isn’t that much different to the fictional characters we love.
In this article, we compare how the roles of two maritime professionals are similar to some of the most beloved superheroes from the Avengers!
Superhero: Black Widow
Maritime equivalent: Shipping Analyst
Trained by the Red Room, a top-secret Soviet programme that produces elite spies, Black Widow is well-known for her information gathering abilities.
If this superhero were to go undercover in the maritime industry, Aileen Wilopo’s role of a Senior Freight Analyst at Oldendorff Carriers would be the perfect fit. After all, Aileen’s primary task involves collecting “intelligence” and forecasting market trends in order to assist the company in getting their strategy right.
While Black Widow often assimilates herself into hostile environments to get information, Aileen’s task is thankfully less intrepid. She relies on a variety of digital platforms that provide data related to customs, ports and satellite tracking to gather information. The challenge however, is assessing the reliability of the platforms, in which can only be determined by monitoring and studying the data gathered.
But this role isn’t as straightforward as it sounds – it involves a good deal of critical thinking and analysis. She can’t always rely on fixed indicators on market trends as market conditions are constantly changing. To excel as a Freight Analyst, Aileen shares that one would need to be well-versed in dry bulk shipping and have a comprehensive understanding of the effects of supply and demand.
To achieve this, Aileen has put herself in the shoes of Black Widow – spinning intricate webs in her mind to connect the dots between a host of factors like macroeconomics policies, end user demand, commodity demand, vessel supply and positioning, all of which are fundamental pieces of information needed to determine market drive.
In a career where information is the greatest weapon, time is of essence. Just like how Black Widow establishes close relations with her sources, Aileen does the same, interacting with various individuals within the company and industry to ensure that she gets the data she needs before her competitors.
Last but not least, both of them exhibit the same fearless streak. This is seen from Aileen’s decision to become a Freight Analyst, which was unmarked territory for her, having no prior experience in the maritime industry.
“I was working as an auditor for one of the Big Four for almost three years prior to joining Oldendorff Carriers. Some of my family members and friends did not understand the move I made but seven years later, I have not regretted my choice,” she shares.
Though having to learn about a totally new industry was a daunting task, Aileen stuck to her guns (like Black Widow) and spent hours of her personal time reading about the industry and talking to her peers from different departments and other companies to gain a holistic understanding of the market.
With so many similarities in their roles, it’s no question that Aileen embodies the characteristics of Black Widow, with both of them thriving in environments where they are mentally stimulated.
Superhero: Captain America
Maritime equivalent: Chief Officer
Decked in his iconic blue uniform and vibranium shield, Captain America is undoubtedly one of the most popular characters in the Avengers. Well-known for his never-say-die attitude, this no-nonsense character boasts a commanding presence that few superheroes have. The same could be said for Chief Officers like Iskandar Bin Hasan from the CMA CGM Group. As the second-in-command of a vessel, they are charged with leading the crew to perform a variety of tasks, such as ensuring the safety of a vessel’s cargo or passengers, and being responsible for his crew’s welfare and training.
To be a good leader, Iskandar believes in leading by example, motivating and engaging his crew, much like Captain America, who has always been inclined to giving pep-talks to his team. For Iskandar, this means establishing an open channel of communication where crew members get to be involved in discussions and contribute solutions to issues faced during the voyage.
Just like Captain America, who upholds justice and fairness, Iskandar has to be objective in assigning work to his subordinates and at the same time, be accountable for their mistakes. Part of his job also includes stepping in to mediate disagreements among the crew, which usually gets resolved amicably.
Another similarity Captain America and Iskandar share – they are both sticklers for the rules! In the case of Iskandar, this means strictly abiding to the ship’s various protocols.
“When it comes to safety, I am very strict and there will be no compromise. It is my responsibility to ensure our stringent protocols are followed through. The team must know exactly what to do in times of emergency – this is a given,” he says.
While they might exude tough love from time to time, they place a lot of emphasis on loyalty, inclusion and diversity. Captain America displays this through his friendship with The Falcon, a superhero from another race, and Iskandar’s concept of inclusion revolves around helping his crew grow into their roles.
“When we have freshmen joining us, I will usually attach them to senior crew members so that they can learn from the experiences of their seniors and have someone they can talk to in a new environment. Likewise, the seniors get to be a mentor, further maturing in their seafaring roles.”
With great power comes great responsibility. Aside from the welfare of his crew, Iskandar is in charge of navigation, crew training, ship maintenance, and even firefighting procedures! While he may not have superhuman strength, he certainly possesses the mental strength to juggle all these tasks well!
Looking ahead, Iskandar aspires to rise to the rank of a Ship Captain before taking his career onshore where he can use his seafaring expertise to benefit the maritime community, imparting his knowledge to the next generation of seafarers while contributing to a sustainable maritime talent pipeline.
Now, that’s a noble goal that even Captain America would approve of!
As you can see, our maritime professionals are very much like superheroes, albeit without capes and powers.
And just like the fictional world, it takes the combined effort of different heroes with specialised skills to achieve the same common objective. While superheroes work together to save the world, it can be said that the diverse occupations within the maritime industry work together to move the world.
After all, the maritime industry is responsible for transporting 80 percent of the world's trade!