Never underestimate the power of teamwork. Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. Let’s work together and provide one another with the opportunities to grow, network, inspire and be inspired.
This will help to build confidence, maximise career potential, improve basic interpersonal skills and ultimately enhance the overall performance of the company.
In light of Women’s Month taking place in August, Vicki Erskine, National Customer Service Manager at Maersk Line, a member of Maersk Group, shares her career experience working with the world’s largest container shipping company.
1. What does your job entail?
I head up the customer service team for Maersk Line Southern Africa, a member of Maersk Group, and lead a team of 25 staff in Cape Town and 30 in India. We’re responsible for all containers that are imported and exported in Southern Africa. This involves ensuring that all necessary shipping documentation is processed, arranging container movements and generating invoices.
An average day includes dealing with customs on containers which have been stopped for inspections, following up with customers to make sure that we meet mandatory documentation requirements for countries governed by strict regulations before we can load containers, and tracing containers on board vessels.
2. What skills have you acquired from your current role at Maersk?
Two major skills which I’ve acquired are general leadership and process improvement. Leading a team in multiple locations, across varying skill levels and with different objectives has necessitated that I be adaptable in my style. Further, the need for providing simplified processes, which meet customers’ requirements at the lowest possible cost, is important.
3. What are the biggest challenges that face you at work?
As a forward thinking company, Maersk strives for continual innovation and this necessitates being the first mover on certain elements in the market. We invest a lot of time in making sure we are sufficiently prepared for innovation. The challenge is therefore to balance the provision of stable and superior service to our customers, while continuously innovating and implementing the changes thereof.
4. What are your major rewards?
It is extremely rewarding to play a role in influencing the development of a team member in terms of how they operate effectively and make a positive impact in the workplace. Over the years I’ve seen the impact which I have made in this regard, and this is very fulfilling. I’m very results driven and I find it very gratifying achieving quantifiable objectives.
5. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
One big lesson I’m continually learning is to slow down and manage what I expect from others. I’m by nature impatient and expect a huge amount from myself and others. The other key lesson I work with is around recognising that people are not like me. Others have different ways of getting to a shared outcome.
6. Any tips for women to get the most from their work experience?
Be honest, take responsibility for your actions and never be afraid to ask if you don’t understand something. Never underestimate the power of teamwork. Further, Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. Let’s work together and provide one another with the opportunities to grow, network, inspire and be inspired. This will help to build confidence, maximise career potential, improve basic interpersonal skills and ultimately enhance the overall performance of the company.
7. What advice can you offer to young women wanting to enter the maritime industry?
The maritime industry is as exciting and dynamic as any other. If you want to work within a very challenging competitive environment with outputs which are very tangible, then shipping is for you!
8. Which female leaders do you admire and why?
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook has had an impact on me because of the insights she shared in her book, “Lean In”. The depth of perspective she provided on what it is like to be a woman in a leadership role, what to be mindful of and how to back oneself, have all been invaluable to me.
9. What is your favourite inspirational and motivational quote?
“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Ghandi.
10. What do you want to accomplish in the next year, personally and professionally?
On a professional level, to ensure that my team are consistently providing great service to our customers in a way which is professional, responsive and demonstrates ownership. On a personal level, I’d like to add visited country number 40 to my list this year.