Business, Entrepreneurship

Five reasons why Shipping is an interesting career choice

Why the shipping industry is an interesting career choice

I used to work for a stock exchange for nearly 3 and half years after my B-School stint. Hence when I decided to shift to the shipping industry, quite a few eyebrows were raised. I myself wasn’t sure what I wasn’t walking into when I joined Maersk Line India Pvt. Ltd.  (Part of AP Moller Group, Denmark) As part of their Global Leadership Program (MLGP) this year

However, nearly half a year in the firm, and I find the industry and extremely interesting one to work with. Quite a few myths were broken down as I settled down in the industry that is hardly known in B-School campuses in India, let alone people from other walks of life

First let me give a brief idea about the industry. Shipping can happen either in containers (the ones you see in Bollywood movies – used to carry apparels, automobiles in normal containers and food products like fruits or fish in air-conditioned ones- Maersk Line is into container shipping industry for example,) or in open large metal plates (known as break-bulk shipping – use to carry minerals, crude oil etc).

Let me list 5 aspects of the industry which makes it an interesting career proposition:

  • The application of knowledge acquired in B-Schools

Mugged up those macro-economic books? Know everything about international trade? Discussed FDI in retail over cups of coffee? Well, if there an industry if you can apply all those you learnt, it is this industry. Which markets India should import from or export to? Which industries and which seasonality should one look at? The application of those economic and finance fundamentals and correlation with your daily work is what would define our work here


GTI-shipping-industry

Photo taken by author – containerized cargo is being lifted by cranes from a vessel

  • The people

Well, we do use a lot of gadgets at work– we have our iPads and Blackberries and Laptops, but at the end of the day, we work with our colleagues. And the shipping industry has perhaps the most diverse group of people working under the same umbrella organization. From people who work in ports, operating gigantic cranes to lift containers, to people who use the most sophisticated software to record data and keep it in a usable form, there are people with knowledge in wide range of human endeavor

  • The depth and variety in the industry

In most industries in this world – you work either in the manufacturing or the service sector. Here is an industry where you can work in the two extremes – you can be in sales or customer services, or you can be in the frontline operations, giving details of vessels that leave or enter the ports and related technical information

reefer-shipping-industry

The inside of a reefer container (temperature controlled, used to carry sea food etc) (photo by author)

  • Chances of exciting global roles

Most of the big shipping firms are headquartered outside India, or have significant operations outside India. It means a good performance can lead to exciting roles, globally. And these would not be the usually “big economic hubs” like London or New York. But can include exotic places like Brazil, Central America, Western Africa and the Middle East. This also means an opportunity to work with, interact and know people from different cultures – exchange notes on food habits, arts, literature and lifestyle

  • Responsibilities at young age and matching remuneration

The shipping industry is a very young industry. The average age across shipping companies and functions barely touches 30. Hence the responsibilities and ownership of business processes come early.

young-workforce

A young manager at work in the MLIPL office

However, the variety of roles, non-repetitive nature of work, opportunity to undertake interesting rotations and hands-on experience with a great mentor-buddy system means the industry rarely burns out people. Plus, a senior role at young age means good remuneration, bonuses and incentives, and subsequent low rates of attrition. It’s very difficult to come across people who have worked in the industry for less than 5 years

Overall, a very interesting career prospect indeed!

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Business, Infographic

Salary Survey for Management Graduates

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Human Resources, Public Issues

Do Women earn less than men in India ?

According to many recent surveys, it was found that Women in India earn upto 26-30% lower than men on average. However, is the comparison done in the right setting? Is the comparison a fair assessment of the roles, responsibilities etc which are assigned or taken up by men/women at their respective roles? Strat.in delves deeper into this issue. Check this video about this issue in the US context –

According to the Professor, women earn lower than men because of factors such as

(a) Career choices they make ( prefering humanities, arts over science )

(b) Full time v/s Part time work

(c) Men are more career focussed and make lateral moves within the industry in the hunt of a better pay package

In India there is more to this -There are significant cultural differences about how Men and Women approach their careers. From the family, there is constant pressure on men to get into the market and find a better living for their family. Women face such pressures less often. In a significant percentage of families in India, women are discouraged to continue work post marriage. This is something that still continues in a majority of Indian cities as well, that too Metro /Tier 1 cities.

So, clearly comparing median wages is not the right approach in these matters. What is perhaps a better approach is to go in a Geography/Industry/Vertical approach and find out the salaries for those particular levels. Perhaps that maybe a better approach to throw more light on this sensitive, yet controversial issue.

Is there Salary based discrimination? Looking at factors such as skill levels etc, particularly in the IT companies, cases of salary discrimination are low, if not non existent. There may be stray cases, but colleagues in the HR departments would be in a better position to comment about this.

Salary is not equal to Productivity – Further, there is one big component that everyone misses out – Salary levels and ‘Productivity levels’ are different. By Productivity levels, one measures how productive a man or a woman is to a house. Women take up significantly larger percentage of responsibilities towards household work, cleanliness, kids, kitchen etc. All this, if were measured in parallel to salary in monetary terms, perhaps the median value that women bring to the household may grow higher than men. There is a case in point for a research to be done about this, related to Indians.

What is your view on this? Is this kind of  ‘salary’ only comparison a fair way to compare in the corporate workplace? Let us know your views!

(Note that this is a controversial issue, and hence, opinions are individual and should be respected as such. Undue dismissive/abusive/derogatory comments directed at individuals will be deleted )

 

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