From a Blog to a Network of Women Supporting Women

Women Offshore’s mission is to support women+ who work on the water. Women are such a minority in the industry that it wouldn’t be uncommon for women to be the only woman in their workplace. This meant there are very few role models and support systems for those starting out. 


In an effort to address this, founder Ally Cedeno started writing profiles about women she knew in the industry and posting them on a blog. She interviewed women who have had significant experience in their chosen field and showcased them as role models.

women offshore

Discovering Demand

The positive feedback to the blog was immediate. Members loved seeing stories of women thriving in a very male-dominated field, especially since a lot of them would not have met another woman in their field before. Members asked for more and Ally started getting questions about mentoring. She discovered that there was a real appetite among her peers to connect with other women to share experiences, learn from each other, and find support.

It was clear – women in this industry wanted mentorship. However, because of how male-dominated the industry is, women+ and minorities simply don’t have the same kind of access to mentors and role models that men do – at least not without some amazing luck. Ally wanted to change that.

An Overwhelming Start

In 2018, a pilot program was launched.

The goal was to provide additional support to women working on the water by connecting them with other women with similar experiences. 

Unaware that software was available to manage mentoring programs, Ally started managing the program manually – using only spreadsheets and emails for everything from sign-ups, matching, momentum management, and feedback collection.

This method soon became difficult, tedious, and ultimately, unsustainable – even with just a small number of participants. Sign-ups and matching became incredibly difficult and there wasn’t one place to keep all the feedback that was coming through. 

If this program was to grow, Ally needed to find a solution that could help with the challenges of running the program. 

A Mentoring Platform to Create Life-Changing Connections

Ally’s drive and passion to connect women working offshore needed to be met with a tool that could match and amplify her efforts. Aside from the usual admin tools like easy sign-ups, detailed profile creation for participants, and reporting she required:

Mentorloop ticked all those boxes for her.

Many of the participants might not have had the opportunity to join mentoring programs before and would be unfamiliar with how they work. The Mentoring Milestones gave their participants guidance and encouragement to progress with confidence.

Mentorloop’s Live Sentiment Dashboard also allowed the Program Coordinators to find out in real-time when things aren’t going well. They loved this because it meant that they could intervene and course-correct, making sure participants all have a great time in the program – even those who’ve had a rough start. 

Many of the mentors in the Women Offshore MentorShip program have said the reason they’ve put their hand up to be a mentor is that they wish they had this kind of support when they were starting out.

Now that they’re in a position to provide it to someone else, they are keen to give other women the support they knew they needed but could never find.

Their “Master Mentors,” women who have been serving as mentors in the program for years, even mentor 3-4 mentees as a time.

Response, Feedback, and Growth

The Women Offshore MentorShip program was launched at an event and supported by features on their website and social media. The response from their community was swift and overwhelmingly positive. Overnight, 50 people had already signed up, with many more coming in quick succession in the following days. 

Positive feedback also poured in throughout the duration of the program, both through Mentorloop and from participants personally reaching out to share their positive experiences.

As the program progressed, it fostered many mentoring pairs that have gone on to form very special and lasting bonds. Many of their participants have repeatedly re-applied for the succeeding cohorts. They still have participants in their program today that have been there since the beginning. They also have an incredibly broad range of women apply to be part of it – students, engineers, young up-and-comers, women switching careers in their 50’s – basically, any woman who has had experience working on the water.

In 2021 Ally brought in another Program Coordinator, Cassi Laskowski, to manage the program. With the support of Mentorloop’s resources and customer success team, this transition was made seamless and easy.

Challenges, Adjustments, and Lessons

The program coordinators have had to make adjustments to the program over the years to turn it into the resounding success that it is today.

Always-On to Cohorts

In the beginning, the program was always-on. The issue that arose was participants had a tendency to become less engaged after 6+ months. When Ally decided to switch to operating in cohorts – only opening up the program to new mentors and mentees twice a year – the program enjoyed better engagement. The sense of urgency that resulted from this setup was also great for applications.

Staying True to the Spirit of the Program

The program’s popularity has also led to some applications to the program from those working adjacent to their industry (shore-side based work) and those wanting to get into offshore roles but have never had any sea experience. As unfortunate as it is to reject people, Ally and Cassi had to. The program was created to serve women who work on the water and so it needs to serve them first.

Joy Hall
Joy Hall
Marine Training Director
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Going into the program, I was hoping to lend professional and experiential knowledge to early career mariners. It allows the mentee to know that others have had the same experiences. They are not alone! My top tip? Stay in touch monthly, send the mentee a list of questions to learn more about them, use some resources from your employer to make the mentoring experience more structure. Have fun!
Fiona Dugmore
Fiona Dugmore
General Service Operator
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I found it really encouraging personally knowing other women out there doing what I want to do and it makes me feel like my professional goals are more achievable. When I doubt that I will make it because I’m a female, it helps reassure me that I can and to keep going. It's a great programme and well worth being part of.
Lulama Mthembu
Lulama Mthembu
Project Development Analyst
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I think the secret to a good mentoring relationship is that both the mentor and mentee have to be committed and interested in building the relationship. Honesty is key, particularly sharing the challenges where you require full support. Perhaps most importantly, mentors should be open about their limitations where possible so that appropriate expectations are set. Openness and communication are key!
Olivia Le Blanc
Olivia Le Blanc
Student / OS
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I wanted to gain a different perspective on the industry and make more connections. I have accomplished both of these goals with my mentor. I learned more about the industry and different perspectives. Being a pilot never really was on my radar but after meeting my mentor and going to work with her it opened up a new path I might want to try one day. My advice to those new to mentoring is to get to know your mentor/mentee and communicate regularly. Setting goals and keeping communication open is extremely helpful.

Creating a Culture of Mentoring at
Women Offshore

The success of the Women Offshore MentorShip program has given Ally and Cassi the confidence to grow it. The big vision for the program is for it to be a source of support and an avenue for learning for as many women working offshore as possible.

Aside from growing the program, they want to explore gamifying some aspects to encourage more interaction – something they already do at their face-to-face events. They also want to one day host a mentoring retreat where participants can engage in knowledge sharing, learn about mentoring best practices, and meet more women in the industry. 

These initiatives were all born out of a desire to encourage more interaction, not just between mentoring partners, but also among the wider community of women working in offshore roles. As far as they’re concerned, the more connections they all make, the better. 

Hear from Women Offshore
founder Ally Cedeno!

With so few women in the maritime industry, having a mentoring partner who can provide a female perspective, validate their experiences and help navigate the unique challenges that women face in a male-dominated field, has proven to be extremely valuable in building confidence in mentees.

Due to this gender imbalance, the Women Offshore Mentoring Program has always been in such high demand and continues to increase.

What started as an additional way of engaging their members is now an integral part of how Women Offshore enacts their mission to support a diverse workforce on the water and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

You too can easily create a culture of mentoring where your members are always learning, supported, and sponsored to success