Julia Petzold

Cargo Superintendent, SAL Engineering (Hamburg)

I’m Julia. I started working for SAL Heavy Lift in 2009 with my second 6-month cadetship onboard the MV Regine. In 2010, I joined MV Svenja as a third mate. From 2014 onwards I worked as chief mate on board and completed my master’s license. In 2018 I went ashore and since then I’m working as cargo superintendent for SAL Engineering.  In my daily work, I am responsible for cargo planning for individual projects or combined semi-liner voyages on all vessels of our fleet. In that context I conduct the theoretical planning for cargo operations, which are then discussed with the vessel and executed in port.

My decision to pursue a career in the maritime industry was more a coincidence than a conscious decision. I always wanted to study "something with biology". For this reason, I had also deselected physics at school - today physics is my "daily bread". A thirst for adventure and curiosity led me to do my first practical semester on board and after that I knew that seafaring and heavy lift was my world.
In my profession I see a problem in the general backwardness of the maritime industry when it comes to gender equality. This includes, for example, the working time model and the proportions of women in management positions. Only two percent of the world's 1.2 million maritime workers are women (as of 2021). But all jobs in shipping ashore and at sea can be done just as well by any woman as by a man.
Whenever I have encountered prejudices on board, they have always been expressed by the cliché of the old, white man: old-fashioned, unreflective role models, which you can counteract by simply making comments like:  "You know - I mostly use the cranes to lift heavy cargo. But you are welcome to show me how you carry the 300t transformer up the gangway by hand". Sadly, however, these men are sometimes even younger than oneself.

Oddly enough, questions usually go in the direction of whether there are prejudices and problems with the crew. I've never had any problems with that. Of course, every newcomer on board is closely scrutinized, but if you work like everyone else, everything is fine. I never saw a problem but faced some. Fortunately, there were enough captains to support me. Unfortunately, there were also some who put big obstacles in the way. So, there is still a lot to do on the way to the working world of the 21st century.

Taken the obstacles I just mentioned aside; I really love what I do as seafarer and what I do right now as an engineer. If you work on board, you have a varied life, where your job is also a way of life. If you want that, seafaring can become your dream job. The variety of this profession is incredible and a perfect mixture of theory and practice, leadership responsibility, training, challenge and a little glimpse into the world. However, the working conditions and family friendliness are unfortunately not. This is why I gave up seafaring and joined SAL Engineering. In engineering, I still have very varied tasks on my desk, can actively support the crew with supercargo and have a more family compatible job.


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