Continuing our series of inspiring stories of some of our Oceanic female colleagues on the occasion of the International Day for Women in Maritime, 18 May 2024, meet Niki Vouzouni, our HR Business Partner, responsible for our Cyprus office.

Can you share with us a brief background about yourself and what motivated you to pursue a career in the shipping sector?

I am Niki Vouzouni and I am the HR Business partner responsible for the Cyprus office, for Oceanic and V.Ships, since April 2023. My professional experience comes with a diverse background in telecommunications, legal and pharmaceuticals, in the field of HR, for more than 16 years, but I always aspiring towards a career in the shipping sector. Originally from Cyprus, I pursued my studies in UK, laying a solid foundation in HR practices and Management frameworks.

Throughout my career journey, I’ve always been drawn to industries that are dynamic, globally impactful, and offer unique challenges. My experiences in telecommunications, legal and pharmaceutical sectors have provided me with valuable insights into regulatory compliance, organizational management, and the importance of effective teamwork. However, it was during my time in the pharmaceutical industry that I began to feel a strong pull towards the shipping sector. I was inspired by the vital role that shipping plays in facilitating global trade and connecting economies around the world. The sheer scale and complexity of the shipping industry intrigued me, and I saw it as an opportunity to apply my skills and expertise in a new and exciting context.

What particularly motivated me to pursue a career in the shipping sector is the sense of adventure and exploration it offers. The idea of being part of an industry that spans continents, navigates diverse cultures, and thrives on innovation is amazing and I am proud to be part of a top-tier organisation within the shipping industry, that reflects my passion for embracing new challenges, making a global impact, and I will contribute from my role with enthusiasm and continuously learn and grow in the dynamic shipping sector.

What aspects of your job do you find most fulfilling, and how do you enjoy collaborating with colleagues from diverse cultural backgrounds?

As an HR professional, I find several aspects of my job incredibly fulfilling. Firstly, I take great satisfaction in fostering a positive work environment where employees feel valued, supported, and motivated to contribute their best. Whether it’s through implementing effective HR policies, providing professional development opportunities, or facilitating open communication channels, I find joy in helping individuals and teams thrive within the organization.

Additionally, the process of talent acquisition and management is fulfilling when you are able to identify and attract top talent, nurture their growth and development, and witness their achievements and progression within the company.

When it comes to collaborating with colleagues from diverse cultural backgrounds, I see it as an enriching and invaluable experience. Diversity in the workplace brings a variety of perspectives, ideas, and approaches to problem-solving, which can lead to more innovative solutions and better decision-making. I actively embrace cultural diversity, recognizing the unique strengths and contributions that each individual brings to the table and I enjoy learning about different cultural norms, customs, and communication styles, as it helps me build stronger relationships and facilitate effective collaboration. By fostering an inclusive and supportive work environment where everyone feels heard, valued, and empowered to contribute, I believe we can reveal the full potential of our diverse workforce and achieve greater success as a team.

How do you see the future for women in seafaring and the broader shipping industry?

The future for women in seafaring and the broader shipping industry holds great promise, but it also presents significant challenges that need to be addressed. Over the years, there has been a gradual increase in the representation of women in traditionally male-dominated sectors, including shipping. However, there is still considerable progress to be made in achieving gender diversity and equality within the industry. Women bring value to any sector and any industry to continue evolving and companies need to acknowledge of utilising diverse talent pool, which includes women, to remain competitive in the global marketplace. V.Group promotes awareness and challenges stereotypes, fostering a supportive and inclusive work culture, implements policies that address gender-based discrimination and harassment, and provides targeted support and resources for women pursuing maritime careers.

What advice would you offer to women aspiring to embark on a career at sea or within the shipping industry?

For women aspiring to embark on a career at sea or within the shipping industry, I would tell them to first of all “Believe in themselves”. Women should have confidence in their abilities and believe that they have what it takes to succeed in the maritime sector. Despite the historical underrepresentation of women in the field, they should know that their skills, knowledge, and contributions are valuable and worthy of recognition. Then, continuous investment in education and training will equip them with the skills and qualifications needed for a successful career at sea or within the shipping industry. Finally, my advice is persistence and resilience. For women, the journey to a career in seafaring or shipping may have its challenges and setbacks. So, we need to stay resilient in the face of adversity, learn from setbacks, and remain persistent in pursuing our goals.

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