Birgit M. Liodden, a self-made entrepreneur and founder, CEO, and chief mermaid from the The Ocean Opportunity Lab, has been a trailblazer in the maritime industry. The maritime industry, historically dominated by men, has witnessed a transformative shift in recent years. Women like Birgit Liodden are at the forefront of this change, bringing innovative ideas and solutions to the table. Their journey, however, is not without its challenges.
Note: Article comes from Birgit Liodden on Women-Led Innovations in the Maritime Industry
The Unexpected Entry into Maritime
Liodden’s entry into the maritime world was unexpected. Hailing from a farming background, she was rooted on land. “I have like a family that comes from like Farmers backgrounds and I even moved out from my childhood home at the age of 16 started working at a farm,” she recalls. The maritime industry was not on her radar, and she initially declined the opportunity to interview for a maritime job. “Shipping that sounds so conservative, lots of old guys,” she thought. Yet, the ocean had always fascinated her, and she found herself drawn to the maritime world.
The Journey Begins
Every journey starts with a vision. For Liodden, it was about changing the industry. She recalls, “When I started presenting my work towards the industry, I actually had in my first slide when introducing myself, I told everyone that I had a vision to change the industry.” Many dismissed her as naive, but Liodden’s determination and collaborative approach have since proven them wrong.
Challenges of Being a Woman in Maritime
The maritime industry, like many others, has historically been male-dominated. For women like Liodden, navigating this space meant confronting deeply entrenched biases and stereotypes. As she began presenting her vision for change to the industry, she was often met with skepticism and even laughter. “Oh, she’s so naive, stupid girl,” was a sentiment she encountered. Yet, Liodden’s determination was unwavering. She believed in the power of collaboration and the importance of building bridges across genders, age groups, and power hierarchies.
The maritime industry, like many others, has its set of challenges. Liodden points out the disconnect between innovators and the realities of the maritime environment. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the nuances of the industry, stating, “There’s a huge threat if you have the disruptors and innovators coming in from the outside without understanding how things really work.”
Moreover, the industry’s detachment from everyday life has led to a lack of awareness. Liodden observes, “The ports aren’t really open to the people… and we tend to forget how our phones or food from around the world comes by.” This detachment poses a challenge in attracting fresh talent and ideas.
Empowering Women in Maritime
Despite the challenges, Liodden remains optimistic about the future of women in maritime. She mentions a promising initiative, “40 by 30,” which aims to achieve 40% female leaders in organizations by 2030. Such initiatives not only promote gender equality but also bring diverse perspectives to the table.
Innovation and Collaboration
Liodden believes in the power of collaboration and innovation. She emphasizes the need for “power coupling” where established industry players work closely with disruptors and entrepreneurs. This collaborative approach, she believes, is the key to addressing the industry’s challenges.
“It’s not like you want to out-compete the older, senior, powerful people. It’s more like you want to interact and power couple and create something which is better with the strengths and the gaps that we both have.”
A Message for the Younger Generation
For those looking to enter the maritime industry, Liodden has some words of wisdom. She advises, “Curiosity is one of the best capabilities to have in this time… remove the ego and focus on what in the world makes your heart tick.” It’s about finding passion and purpose in one’s work.
Birgit Liodden’s journey is a testament to the power of determination, collaboration, and innovation. Her story serves as an inspiration for women looking to make their mark in the maritime industry. As the industry continues to evolve, it’s clear that women like Liodden will play a pivotal role in shaping its future.
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