Sylvia Boer is the Director of Amsterdam IJmuiden Offshore Ports (AYOP).
She has a rich background in the maritime sector and has been involved with offshore energy activities in the North Sea area. In this role, she is focusing on fruitful collaborations for and between all partners that are active in the offshore energy sector. AYOP creates an ecosystem for partners with different specialties, knowledge and products & services so that everyone can support and reinforce each other.
A passion for the sea
I was grown up in the maritime industry: my father worked in this industry and he used to take me and my sister to all sorts of exhibitions and ship launches. My passion for water and ships is, thus, built into my DNA! When I wanted to figure out where I wanted to work after my studies, I made a checklist for myself. I wanted to be in a dynamic and international environment, an industry that actually produces something and I wanted to be in a male-dominated industry, so maritime was again the perfect match for me.
Success is not always easy
In the beginning of my career, I was unstoppable. Everything was new for me and I was learning at an incredible pace. I was one of the few ladies and I was easily recognized and seen. I climbed the career ladder pretty quickly.
However, the higher you get the more difficult it becomes. In the beginning, I thought there was something wrong with my approach, so I tried various tactics and followed several leadership trainings. However, I also started to realize that the maritime industry is old fashioned, especially when it comes to putting women in leadership roles. Luckily I found two good mentors that supported me all the way.
I am happy to say that I do see things changing and diversity is becoming a serious topic for companies in the maritime industry. On the other hand I am also not surprised if you look at the huge challenge we are facing with the energy transition.
n order to contribute more to the energy transition and have a role with impact I decided to move on and accept AYOP’s offer. It is a small organization and is very different from the previous company I worked for, but I see new paths and doors opening for me!
Smarter and more sustainable
I love to work on something that gives me a lot of energy. I want to be challenged. I like to make things better, smarter, and more sustainable. However, I never confine my ambitions to specific roles or positions.
All together for the energy transition
I joined the community very lately. In the first session I joined, I was impressed by the level of women sitting there. I enjoyed being around like-minded people and also those who are very much down the road. I find it important to be among peers to discuss some issues and learn from each-other’s approach. On top of that, there are many solutions needed in the energy transition that calls for a diverse workforce.
This holds not only for gender, but for everything. So just mix it!
<Checklist > Women supporting women
Very important to mention is that we should avoid blaming the men for gender imbalance. Everything that we experience is also in ourselves. It is deeply rooted in our society, look at the way we raise our kids by giving girls dolls to play with and boys LEGO. To take a step, I started to consciously hire more women in my team for my previous role. I also advise my peers to do so, and to speak up with respect if something is not according to your expectations. It might be that your male colleagues are just not aware of the matter.
Let go of the thought that there might be someone better than you!
Finally, to all ladies, start promoting your fellow women.
At this stage, it is crucial to become or create role models for young professionals.