Angela Gillham MIMarEST is Deputy CEO, Maritime Industry Australia Ltd. She explains her role as a policy specialist working with industry, governments, and the IMO.
What is your current role?
I’m MIAL’s safety and environment policy specialist, which best describes the day-to-day subject matter I cover, but I’m officially known as Deputy Chief Executive Officer.
What does that involve?
There are many aspects to what we do at MIAL. The main reason we exist is to advocate for certain policy settings on behalf of our members and to help them navigate an extraordinarily complex regulatory environment. In doing so we provide advice, expertise, and education.
As an industry body, we exist for the pursuit of outcomes that will benefit our members in particular, the industry as a whole and, we like to think, the nation.
We ensure we are ahead of the game in terms of upcoming legislation, and work with government on a regular basis to ensure regulations are fit for purpose. Usually, governments recognise that better outcomes are achieved by working with industry and we enable that by operating as a conduit between the two.
Importantly, we are a source of up-to-date information about legislative change that helps our members to be ahead of the curve and prepare for what’s coming.
In the world of safety and environmental compliance, regulatory change can result in significant costs to business with increasing administrative burden, significant technical upgrades or equipment retrofits, so appropriate lead in time is critically important.
Shipping is facing a major decarbonisation challenge. There is a suite of new IMO regulation in the pipeline that will require the industry to make significant energy efficiency gains in the short to medium term.
Importantly, this is also the beginning of an obvious pathway to a zero-emissions shipping industry and with a limited supply of carbon neutral fuels available now, and an absence of zero carbon options in the medium term. The challenge ahead cannot be underestimated.
Aside from providing regulatory compliance advice, my role in helping our members to meet these challenges is to work with government, technology, and energy providers along with our members to create opportunities for collaboration to accelerate development and uptake of solutions.
Highlights of your time with MIAL…
We are a small team, covering a lot of ground and as a result you really need to draw on your knowledge, experience, and strengths, build strong networks to support your work and just get on with it.
It is safe to say that working for MIAL has exposed me to some incredible professional experiences.
I started at MIAL with about 3 years’ environmental project management and not-for-profit experience after graduating from university. Before too long, I was surveying biofouling growth under gas tankers at Semabawang drydock facility in Singapore. It was a fabulous experience under the expert guidance of John Lewis, IMarEST’s Co-Chair of the Biofouling Management Special Interest Group, and among Australia’s leading experts on biofouling risk and mitigation.
Attending IMO as industry advisor to the Australian delegation is another highlight. While it can be exceedingly tedious at times, the depth of knowledge gained from a technical and political perspective by attending IMO meetings is second to none.
Tell us about your involvement with the IMarEST
After circling the organisation for many years, I’m a relatively new IMarEST member. I love the networking opportunities it provides, and the access to expertise as well as technical information on a wide range of topics relevant to my work.
You believe the role of women in the industry must change, and were part of the IMarEST event focused on this in 2021
Shipping is a male dominated industry for too many reasons to mention, however there are clear benefits to be realised from increased female participation.
For starters, the industry is facing a critical skills shortage. Attracting the ‘other’ 50% of the population will be part of the solution to the problem. There’s also a growing body of research that points to the safety benefits of a gender-diverse workplace in high-risk industries.
With respect to both seagoing and non-seagoing roles, shipping is no different to any other industry. Workplace culture must reflect gender diversity and employers have to ensure that workplace policies that are designed to promote work life-balance are applied equally, not just in a technical, but also in a practical sense.
The most obvious of these is workplace flexibility – and not just for women but also for men. Providing workplace flexibility only for women further perpetuates the cultural norm that women are primarily responsible for the unpaid work associated with raising a family and creates an artificial barrier for increased female participation across the economy.
This is the tip of the iceberg.
Best career advice?
Back yourself. I hate to generalise, but this seems to come more naturally to men than it does to women, so it’s something that I must constantly work on!
Angela Gillham MIMarEST is Deputy CEO, MIAL.