Women Offshore is an online organisation which supports a growing diverse workforce on the water. Through filling a gap in the maritime industry and supporting women in a male dominated field, their mission is to “shine a light on women in operations, provide resources to foster long-term careers, and share the latest efforts on gender diversity and inclusion in the offshore and maritime industries.”
“I think the biggest surprise has been women signing up who I’ve never met. They’re from other parts of the world. They’re so far outside my personal loop. And they signed up right away. Women from Greece, Africa, all over! I’m just truly honoured that they want to give it a try and touch another woman’s career and help her along her way. I’m surprised by our reach and that so many women want to be involved. There’s literally a hunger for this, I love it. I’m hungry for it too – it’s just great.” – Ally Cedeno, Women Offshore.
We caught up with Founder of Women Offshore, Ally Cedeno, about how she is connecting women at sea all over the world with the launch of their mentoring program.
What was the catalyst for you to create a mentor program?
I came up with the idea for Women Offshore about a year and a half ago. And having been working on the water for 10 years, I always wanted a mentor. I had a few opportunities, and they were always short lived. And feeling so isolated in this industry, you don’t get to meet many other women. There’s all these great women, but you never really get to meet them. But we started getting some money for the site and I really like Mentorloop and how helpful your team was.
We launched it last week and we already have 30 people signed up. It’s neat because it’s across two industries – Maritime and offshore energy.
There are so many women who are coming into the industry who are hungry to do more and get some guidance. If they get to a ship and they haven’t seen a woman step onto the ship, she’s a pioneer. And there’s times where she would need some guidance. And if she doesn’t get it, it could break her career. But if she had a mentor, that could make all the difference. It’s what I always wanted, so I’m just trying to make it available to other women.
What was your business objective in launching the platform?
I look at it as a solution for the industry where companies can’t provide mentoring because they don’t have enough women in their fleet to provide female mentorships. So it’s a way to keep women in the industry and provide companies with a resource to assist in retaining their talent.
Did you have an existing mentor program before Mentorloop?
I ran a pilot program, somewhat secretly for 6 months. I was carrying everyone with an excel spreadsheet. But I only had 26 people in that program and just doing the initial work was a lot to do. At the end I realised many had dropped out, but the few that were still engaged were getting a lot out of it. But I also had these few mentors who had a lot to offer. And I thought, there has to be a way to automate this so I don’t have to use excel. Nudges really helped to move it along.
What were your expectations of a mentoring software?
I wanted ease of use, and for it be used on a mobile device. And resources, it was important to provide resources. And your team generously offered to customise the resource hub like the hotline we provide Seafarer Health. And some other resources around how to handle harassment in the workplace.
Can you see it becoming part of your ongoing business plan?
Yeah absolutely. I want this to be a cornerstone of what Women Offshore is. I think mentoring is huge for anyone’s career. Because you also have the benefit of reverse mentoring – for the mentor. You get to define your own goals and compare your own journey to your mentee’s journey and learn from it. I think everyone can benefit from a bit of mentoring in their life.
In 12 months, what will tell you that your mentoring program has been a success?
I think the stories that come out of it – women who hopefully had career goals that they accomplished. Or at least they have a better understanding of what they want to do with their career. Stories of personal and professional growth would make it worthwhile. I’d like to think we’ll fill up the program, but even if it makes a difference in just a few lives, that still matters.
What advice would you give a peer looking to launch a mentoring program?
Don’t be afraid to start small. The important thing is to get it going, and you can grow it. People will wait forever over-preparing themselves for the “right time”. Go in with a plan and accept that you’ll learn things along the way. With Mentorloop, you can make adjustments along the way.
“The important thing is to get it going, not wait too long.”
What is your vision for your mentor program?
I want this to be the go-to resource for the industry that we work with. I’d like to fill it up with 1000+ women.
Want a closer look at the Mentorloop platform? Request a demo and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.