Celebrating International Women's Day 2022


Ashwini Rana

Senior Operations Manager, Singapore

Originally from Nepal - a landlocked country with no maritime tradition, Ashwini never imagined she would end up in a shipping career which has taken her around the world.

“It’s a cliché, but shipping is not a job - it’s a lifestyle,” says Ashwini. As senior operations manager, she looks after ships sailing across the globe, which means being ready to support them, anytime day-or-night.

“It is 24/7, and that takes a certain type of person.  But for me that’s what I love about it. I get a real sense of achievement in solving problems that are happening halfway across the world.”

Ashwini joined NORDEN as a shipping trainee 10 years ago – as one of only a small handful of female trainees in the Singapore office. Since then, her career has taken her around the world, to Copenhagen, Rio, Annapolis - and back to Singapore again.

“I have never been made to feel like I can’t do something because of my gender. Every time I expressed an interest to do something different, I have been given the opportunity. I have loved exploring new cultures and getting exposure to all walks of life – that’s the fun of it and also the challenge.”

She believes that more visibility needs to be given to the different career paths available. “Shipping isn’t only about being a seafarer. The industry is changing and there are so many different onshore career options – from data, risk, advanced analytics - we need to bring more attention to these to encourage more women into the industry.”

While the gender balance has definitely changed for the better over the last 10 years, Ashwini acknowledges that a barrier for many still comes when having a family. “I have seen that women often don’t see it as a sustainable with a family, and they take a step back. I’m not at the point in my life where I have to make that choice. But I have been open with my team leader about it and I’m confident I will get the support I need when the time comes.”


Galina Belokopytova

Operations Manager, Vancouver

Galina is a passionate advocate for more Women in Shipping, devoting her spare time to promoting the cause in her native Canada 

“Diversity is so important to successful companies. It’s crucial to have teams where people think differently,” says Galina. “I would love to see more women joining this industry. It’s a dynamic, rewarding and challenging career.”

She believes NORDEN has made very positive moves such as offering fathers 12 weeks of fully paid paternity leave. “It’s hard in a male-dominated industry to not worry about taking time out for maternity leave so this will alleviate some pressure and it’s a good step in the right direction.”

While Galina is very proud to be part of close-knit team in Vancouver, evenly split between men and women, she still sees a big gender gap when it comes to leadership.

“My experience is that the higher up positions are in general still fairly male-dominated. It can be difficult to come into a career and see mainly male leaders, that’s why it’s so important to hear from women that have become leaders. Personally, I find that hugely inspiring.”

She is so passionate about the topic that she devotes a great deal of her spare time to organising networking events to inspire and motivate other women in the industry through her role as Vice Chair of Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, Canada.

Her advice to any woman starting out is to find a mentor. 

“I was so lucky to have a mentor from the very beginning of my shipping career. It is someone who has been through these things before you. Even though she has retired now we still keep in touch.”

Her mentor helped to put into perspective just how far the industry has come in terms. “She told me stories where ship captains would refuse to speak to her because she was a woman.

“Things have changed thankfully, but it’s still common for emails and legal documents to be addressed ‘Dear Sirs’… it just shows how male-dominated shipping used to be. For me it just makes the challenge even more fun and interesting – as a woman you really want to break down those barriers.”