Mlle Lay Ying joined Bourbon Offshore Asia in march 2010, as 2nd Officer. She later moved up the ranks and began on june 2015 the first woman Master of the singaporian company. She will take up her duties onboard the Bourbon Tongkam, an AHTS of BOURBON’s fleet. Interview.
OFFshore : When did you first feel the pull of the ocean?
L.Y. : I read a book about sailing when I was studying in Secondary school; it was about a man who was sailing around the world. The tale talked about how adventurous his life was and the journey he had experienced. It was such an amazing book. I started to wonder when I was very little what it would be like to have a career filled with adventurous journeys.
OFFshore : Tell me about your career path so far?
L.Y. : I went to Singapore Maritime Academy, a three years diploma in nautical studies course that integrates with a Class 3, Certificate of Competency. I obtained my Class 2 Certificate of Competency navigating for various companies. I started my offshore career with Bourbon Offshore Asia as Second Officer. In 2010, I had completed a Class 1, Certificate of Competency and obtained my Master Mariner, unlimited license. After going through various trainings both on board and ashore as well as gaining experience, I was promoted to Captain in command of ‘Bourbon Tong Kam’, an anchor handling, towing and supply vessel (AHTS).
OFFshore : How has your time been as Captain so far?
L.Y. : It has been a totally new experience and filled with different challenges. It’s not about just simply keeping Navigation duties. Now, I have to manage the vessel and make sure that a good safety culture is being promoted, while focusing on the client satisfaction and company requirements. It is a never ending learning process and I am still enjoying it.
OFFshore : How has the crew reacted?
L.Y. : Initially the crew reacted with surprise. They feel shy and hesitated to approach me. But as the times goes by, they are able to accept and work together with me.
OFFshore : Are there any advantages to being women as Captain?
L.Y. : Yes, it does have some advantages being a lady Captain especially when times that I have to deal with the man. They tend to be softer, gentleman and work extra hard to prove to me their capabilities. In this way, it also makes the job easier, safer and more efficient.
OFFshore : Being a women in a very male-dominated environment, was there resistance? How did you cope with it?
L.Y. : Offshore is a "men’s world". If I only had a penny for the many times I hear that phrase. Gender biases and negative attitudes toward women make it difficult for women to break into male-dominated fields. To maintain self confidence and determination and not allowing the biases and negativity to overwhelm the positive aspects of what I am doing. I wouldn’t be truthful if I said that there were no biases I had to deal with. But I refused to allow them to be proven true. If there was a negative opinion about a women working on board vessel, I will show you I can do it as good or better. I am not going to hide my head. I am just going to show you it doesn’t matter whether male or female. Many women feel that they will not be successful in this career because they lack of encouragement. Surround yourself with people who will uplift you and believe in you. But most of all, believe in yourself.
OFFshore : What advice do you give women wanting to look at a career at sea?
L.Y. : Breaking into a male-dominated field is not impossible but staying in it is the real challenge. To pursue a career at sea, you need to study and learn and be the best that you can be. So when people are thinking about who would be the best person for this job there will be no question. Make sure you really love it because it can be very difficult career path. It also hard to balance between family and work but once you able to balance it, it’s pretty great.