Johannesburg - “With the maritime industry formerly male dominated, women have to work hard to prove that they can head up pivotal positions in the industry.”
This is the view of Gugu Dube, harbour master of the port of East London.
Dube climbed up the ranks in the industry, becoming one of the first black female marine pilots in the country in 2011, a job which required her to fly to ships entering the Durban harbour with a helicopter, assume control and dock the vessel in the harbour.
Today, her role entails enforcing regulations of the port in order to ensure safety of navigation, the environment and that procedures are followed.
“We are getting to a point where we understand that there is a role for women in the cooperate world and that change is imminent,” she told Fin24.
Quoting the phrase: “If you empower a woman, you empower the society”, Dube said women have the heart to support, motivate and multiply anything you give to them.
Appointed by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) as harbour master in 2014, Dube said at first she found it hard for men to accept her as a leader.
“They couldn't understand why I chose this industry, but as time went on and more women joined, men began to accept us as part of them, although we had to work twice as hard to prove to them that we were more than capable,” she said.
Dube also encouraged women to join the maritime industry and pursue a career in any field they felt passionate about.
“In any career it is always important to stay focused and work hard because it does pay off. Perseverance is important. No career is designed for certain individuals, if you feel you can do it nothing is impossible,” Dube told Fin24.
Dube joins the likes of other females who have been appointed to significant roles in the maritime industry.
Most recently, Shulami Qalinge was appointed to succeed Richard Vallihu as the first female chief executive of TNPA.
Qalinge is at the helm of the organisation and will provide leadership and strategic direction to over 3 500 employees.