Meet Wakinyila Running, a Native American based in Aarhus, Denmark and a proud graduate of Svendborg International Maritime Academy (SIMAC).

Wakinyila’s blossoming career has already taken her around the world. She is currently a third officer on a tanker and spent one year as a cadet before graduating from SIMAC in April of this spring.

Women Offshore interviewed Wakinyila to learn more about her aspirations pre- and post-graduation:

Wakinyila, what inspired you to take up a career on the open water?

“I always wanted to work in an international environment, wanting to see the world.  This education was able to provide both.  I didn’t have any friends or family members who were sailors, so [this career] was quite a gamble – but, it turned out to be the perfect match!”

As a third officer, what do your job duties consist of?

“When at sea, I am charged with navigating the ship, including cargo watches.  While in port, I ensure all of the life-saving and firefighting appliances and equipment are always in working order, and certifications/inspections are up-to-date.”

What motivates you to continue working on the water if it’s a long-term career for you?

“For now, I have no long-term plans regarding how long I want to stay at sea.  I have thought that I will continue to sail until I become chief officer – but, life is always changing and you never know where it will take you.”

What challenges have you faced in your career?

“I wouldn’t say I have faced many challenges in my career.  Of course, being newly promoted to third officer, I have had challenges as to how to do my job in the best possible way.  It was a strange feeling, coming on board as an officer and not having anyone looking over your shoulder, telling you what to do.  Luckily, I had great colleagues and a willingness to learn – I managed to figure it out!”

What do you think can be done in your industry to encourage more women to pursue similar careers?

“To this day, the industry is still very much male-dominated.  I don’t know what can be done to encourage more females to sail, other than spreading the word.  Before I became a cadet, I had not heard much about this industry and it was very hard to find any information.  I would say, more or less, impossible to find any female-related articles or point-of-view stories, other than the promotional videos and interviews made by big shipping companies – which, I must say, are a little misleading as the people are obviously reading a script.  I haven’t met many females on board the ships.  I think it takes a strong, determined female to be a sailor, as most contracts are long and much time is spent away from friends and loved ones.  I don’t want to generalize, but most females – sailors or otherwise – have a biological urge to have children at some point which, more often than not, requires them to go ashore and forego their careers.”

Thank you, Wakinyila, for sharing your sentiments! We admire you and wish you the best of luck in your career!

Do you have a comment to make about Third Officer Running’s responses?  We would love if you shared them!