Breaking the bias: Beatrice proves you can be both a manager and a mum 

9 March 2022

Already at age 10, Beatrice L’Orsa Mortensen knew she wanted a career in the maritime industry. She experienced early on that she had to work harder to prove herself, and to be taken as seriously as her male counterparts. She shares a strong message that you can have a career and still have a family life.

Working her way up in the maritime industry has been a struggle at times for Beatrice.  During her career in shipping, she has experienced men refusing to speak to her or telling her to just stay at home because of her gender. Some have even told her she would never make it in shipping - because she is a woman. 

Breaking the bias

Beatrice says, “Throughout my career I never saw a role as a "man's role" but rather the ability to do the job.”  Although challenging at times, her continued persistence broke biases along the way and today she leads a team whilst juggling motherhood.  

"Here I am still standing, both a manager and a mother. So, I think it is fair to say that I proved them wrong," Mortensen says. “I’ve never encountered it at Höegh Autoliners, but earlier in my career, I’ve experienced some men having a hard time accepting the fact that they had to listen to a woman, or accept women taking on different positions, not least in management,” she adds.

Luckily things are changing for the better, she thinks. “The industry is more inclusive than it used to be. It is better balanced and more diverse. Most people have come around and the industry has improved a great bit. But it has been difficult at times. There is definitely still some way to go, especially in top management positions, but we are getting there.” 

Getting to work with many different, very interesting people 

Being a Regional Vessel Operator Manager for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Oceania at Höegh Autoliners, she is responsible for the day-to-day managing of vessels, which includes maximising the efficiency of vessels at sea and in port. 

Actually, operating vessels was far from what she thought she’d be doing. And far from where she started in the industry. 

“My dad is a shipbroker and at the age of 10 I decided that I wanted to follow in his footsteps and go into the maritime industry. It turned out shipbroking wasn’t for me, but I accidently stumbled into working as a vessel operator and absolutely fell in love with it. And still am,” Mortensen says. 

“I get to work with so many different and interesting people. And be right in the middle of the action, working with vessels, captains, agents, trades and the commercial departments to make the best schedule possible for our vessels,” she says. 

Beatrice wouldn’t hesitate one bit recommending the maritime industry to both men and women.  
“If you think shipping might be something for you, my advice would definitely be to just go for it,” she says, adding: 

“It is a fantastic industry to work in. And so dynamic. You never know what tomorrow brings. There are so many different positions to fill and so many different and fun tasks to take on, so there is a place for everybody no matter your personality and interests,” she says.