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HomeInformationSusan Oatway - First female Chairman of Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers

Susan Oatway – First female Chairman of Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers

Institute of Chartered ShipbrokersEducation is an important requirement in any field in order for anyone to learn about that field and put that learning to work.. Such education and learning may or may not be formal depending on various circumstances..

In one of my previous polls, I asked how many of my readers had a formal education like a degree, diploma or other formal qualifications relating to Shipping, Freight and Logistics ??

  • 57% of readers answered with “No, I don’t have a formal education in shipping, freight and logistics”
  • 43% of readers answered with “Yes I have a formal education in shipping, freight and logistics”

Education and learning in the Shipping, Freight and Logistics industry is no different to any other industry and in my opinion, there are not many options for formal education in our industry compared to other industries..

There is, however, one professional body that has been working hard not just to fill this gap but also to set the highest standards of professional service to the shipping industry worldwide through education, example and discipline and that body is the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers..

I have seen the Institute growing from strength to strength creating a huge difference and impact in the lives of many of its students in their professional life..

Here is what you need to know about the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers..

The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers is the professional body for all members of the commercial shipping industry worldwide and was founded in 1911 in the UK and awarded a Royal Charter in 1920..

With 26 branches (Netherlands became the latest last month) of which 8 are in the United Kingdom & Ireland, the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers is the only internationally recognised professional body in the commercial maritime arena representing shipbrokers, ship managers and agents throughout the world..

Twice a year, over 1,000 students take the Institute’s examinations in over 100 centers throughout the world..

The Membership of the Institute is accepted in universities worldwide as a first degree for any person wishing to participate in a Masters Degree programme.. The Institute’s qualification is considered as a unique hallmark of professionalism in the world of shipping business..

For industry newcomers, the Institute offers a tailored introduction to the maritime world and for the experienced people, it offers specialist subjects such as:

  • Ship operations;
  • Tanker chartering;
  • Port agency;
  • Shipping law and insurance

The route to membership allows individuals to join the Institute’s international network of brokers, forwarders, agents, insurers, lawyers and other shipping service providers..

The Institute has now appointed Susan Oatway (FICS) as its first female Chairman.. I caught up with Susan and this is what she had to say..


Susan OatwaySFR : Hi Susan, firstly a hearty congratulations on your selection as the first female Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. How does it feel to have reached this great milestone in Shipping..??

Susan Oatway : Thank you very much. I was very honoured to be elected Vice-Chairman two years ago and moving into the Chairman’s role means the real work now starts.


SFR : A woman in a man’s world……………………. Do you think this has changed much since you entered the world of shipping..??

Susan Oatway : Some – currently about a quarter of our Branch Chairmen are female.

When I started classes in 1991 I was one of just 2 women. This year at the London School of Shipping about a third of its cohort are women.

But we still have some way to go. Also it depends which sector you are in. There is a good percentage of women in logistics, far fewer in operations or at sea- or even broking.


SFR : From being an analyst to now the first female Chairman of the ICS, how has the transition been for you..??

Susan Oatway: I was lucky to get into the industry by chance – in the late 80s you could still get a job if you walked out of University with no clue what to do.

And I started with P&O – they didn’t have a track record of women in the chartering team but they were supportive and encouraged me to do my ICS exams.


SFR : Your long association with ICS indicates that you have found tremendous value in the institution.. What would you term as the best value offering of the ICS to the shipping world..

Susan Oatway :There are two actually – firstly it gave me a good grounding in commercial shipping – I may be an ‘expert’ on Breakbulk now but 30 years ago the basic knowledge across a range of sectors that the qualifying exams gives our members gave me the confidence to take my career into new sectors.

And having MICS and later FICS on my business card opened a network of contacts across the world.


SFR : There seems to be a lack of formal education in the shipping and freight industry currently.. Do you see this changing anytime soon and if so, in which areas..??

Susan Oatway : Well I would argue that the ICS provides an excellent base for education in commercial shipping in our introduction and qualifying courses.

What we are seeing more of is industry requirements for bespoke courses. That is very interesting for us as we are well placed to deliver those courses.


SFR : The syllabus of ICS has remained similar for many decades/years.. With the advent of digitalisation in the industry, are there any plans from the ICS to include subjects or topics that cover this crucial aspect..??

Susan Oatway : The syllabus for the 16 subjects that we have exams in is constantly under review with relevant topics added as necessary.

I think a more interesting question for us is how to balance the needs of the student who is digitally enabled in all aspects of their life and wants to take their exams online versus those for whom we have to provide libraries and bursaries as they have little access to our books and cannot get regular internet access.


SFR :  The IMO announced “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” as the World Maritime Theme for 2019.. Do you think enough is being done to raise the profile of women in this important industry..??

Susan Oatway: It is a start as it continues to raise awareness. However I think our industry has a fundamental problem in attracting young people – of either sex. We have a skills gap in the maritime sector that is reaching crisis point in some areas.

As an industry we need to work on attracting those young people. The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers is ideally placed to do this and that is our challenge going forward.


Wishing Susan all the best in her new position..


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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..



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