THE global maritime industry is changing. Historically a male-dominated industry, today women are increasingly taking the helm.

This World Maritime Day (26 September), the global maritime community celebrates the contributions women are making to the industry to ensure maritime is a career option for everyone.

From port officers to port managers, here are just some of the women working at Port Authority of New South Wales talking about their careers and contributions to the industry.


Emma Fensom
Chief operating officer, Newcastle & Yamba
I’m responsible for implementing the navigational safety requirements in the ports of Newcastle and Yamba and make sure we have an efficient port that meets the need of our stakeholders

Working in this role is an absolute highlight in my career — ensuring the efficient running of one of the largest ports in Australia — plus being the naming mother of a tug boat here in Newcastle!

If young women can see that there are other women working in maritime, they might get excited about the possibilities of working in the industry themselves.

It’s about people like myself, who have had experience, talking to young people and making them aware that there is a maritime industry and a diverse range of careers they can take

Megan Arnott
Marine pilot, Sydney
I’m a marine pilot and go onboard ships arriving and departing Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay to help the captain safely navigate through the port.

Maritime is a dynamic industry and environment to work in. My job is physical — climbing ladders to board ships in all weather conditions. I love the different challenges it gives me every day: different ships, different ports different crew.

At the age of 27, after many years of hard work at sea, I got my first command as captain of a tanker vessel. After all the years of training, that’s the highest position you can go on a ship, so was an achievement to be proud of — especially at that age. I think any with a passion for working on the water will find opportunity in this industry.

Sarah Marshall
General manager, marine operations, Sydney

I oversee much of Port Authority’s marine services in Sydney and make sure our marine teams are well trained and understand procedures.

The most enjoyable thing about working in maritime is seeing how passionate everyone is. Everyone who works here has some sort of affiliation with the water. They love their job and are excited to do it. And the work we do is critical to the economy of NSW and Australia. If we don’t do our job, then Sydney will soon be short of supplies! It’s great to work for something that important.

There’s never been so much opportunity in the maritime industry for women — from training up to work on the water straight after school, through to people like myself who didn’t come from a maritime background. We’re an evolving industry and that gives an opportunity for people from all walks of life bring new skillsets to the sector.

Josephine Clarke
Marine pilot, Port Kembla
I’m a marine pilot and provide safe and efficient navigation services to ships visiting our ports. The highlight of my career so far was the day I became master of a ship — a position I never would have dreamed I’d reach when I started as a trainee in the maritime industry.

The thing I love most about working in maritime is the variation in any one day’s work. We work on a wide variety of different ship types, with multinational crews and of course, varying weather conditions. Every day is slightly different – you never know quite what to expect.

Lucy Weal
Port officer, Port Botany
I audit and inspect tankers and other commercial ships that come into port and respond to any emergency like oil spills in the harbour.

I enjoy the teamwork and the variety of the work in this industry. One day I’ll be completing paperwork with foreign crews on ships and, on another, I could be escorting a passenger vessel through Sydney Harbour. After years of working as deck crew, I gained my Master ticket to be able to take control and skipper vessels — a definite career highlight so far.

Maritime offers many opportunities. There’s a broad variety of roles, from working on vessels to science and research — you can take your career in any direction.

Christa Sams
Environment operations manager, Sydney
My job is to ensure the environmental impacts of port operations are minimised and to reduce any impacts on local communities.

There are so many passionate people in this industry. Our ports are in beautiful locations and our teams work very hard to protect the environment they work in.

I’ve been working in maritime for almost 20 years and in that time I can see there’s been a great change for women working in this organisation and across the industry. More and more women are now in significant and varied roles than ever before.

Catherine Blaine
Senior manager, asset management and projects
My role involves the upkeep and maintenance of our land-based port assets and the delivery of our capital projects.

There’s a lot of encouragement right now for women to get into the maritime industry. And if working on the water isn’t your thing then there’s a lot of broad opportunities on offer — from engineering to project and asset management. There’s not just the one path — there’s plenty of avenues you can explore.

It can be a challenge making the jump into this industry but once you do, there’s a lot of support, mentoring and good role models who can lead the way.

Making waves with a career in maritime
A career in maritime should be on everyone’s radar says Port Authority’s Stacey Campbell. Here’s how she plotted her own course in the maritime industry.
Read more here