Inspiring women at sea

25 June 2019

Monalisa Alejandrino was one of the first female cadets employed by Höegh Fleet Services Philippines in 2008. This April, she became our first female Chief Officer. With women accounting for only around two per cent of the global seafarer pool, she has an important message for those women who want to pursue a career in the maritime industry.

Q: What inspired you to become a seafarer?

A: As a young woman, I envisioned myself to be many things, but as I grew older, I was inspired to be a seafarer by my father and brother. So I studied in the University of Cebu METC and took my Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation. In my third year, I was able to board a vessel, Höegh Morning Meridian as a Deck Cadet.

Q: How did people react when you decided to take a career at sea?

A: When I decided to take the path of being a seafarer most people doubted I could accomplish this. I remember one of my relatives saying to me that they doubted I would even finish school, because it was not the usual thing for females. It was inculcated in my mind and I took it as a challenge. It is the dedication that wins in the end.

Q: What is the secret to your success?

A: Sheer determination and hard work. I aspired to be great and as a result, I was able to graduate as Magna Cum Laude. I passed my board exam in 2011, and was able to join my next vessel, Hoegh Copenhagen as OS. Over the next three years I took on the position as Third Officer and Second Officer. I was recommended as Chief Officer in 2017 and knowing the responsibility that comes with the position, I wanted to be ready when I finally accepted it. And so I studied hard and passed all prerequisites with commendation (Trim and Stability, CES, HACAP). And now here I am. There was no secret to how I got to be where I am now. All I did was give my best in everything I do. And now, my goal is to inspire other female seafarers to believe in themselves. Because, if men can do it, so can we.

Q: What is your message to women who want to pursue a career at sea?

A: For those women who plan to become a seafarer, be ready to face the waves that can cast your fears away. As the seafaring industry is conventionally a man's world, many women fear to take it up as a profession. However, I believe fear is nothing but only a product of our imagination. If you believe in yourself and if you have strong determination nothing is unachievable. When you want it, study and work hard for it; but expect the unexpected because sometimes the wheel of life doesn’t always go to what we want. One needs to be prepared mentally, physically and emotionally before choosing this as a profession. It requires strength and courage but with a positive attitude and approach you can do it. 

Watch the video below, where Monalisa shares three tips to women who are thinking of a career at sea.