A tiny island we may be, but Singapore’s quality-driven fleet has caught the attention of the world.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

A tiny island we may be, but Singapore’s quality-driven fleet has caught the attention of the world.

There are more than 4,700 Singaporeregistered vessels, carrying at least 88 million tonnes of cargo. It takes a dedicated team to ensure that the vessels and crew meet high standards of safety and function.


Kelen Lim (NEAR RIGHT), Senior Manager, Chartering, PCL

While many of  her peers chose different fields or became homemakers, Kelen opted to climb the ranks in what was then the male-dominated field of  maritime after her GCE A levels. That was 30 years ago, and she has not looked back once. “No two events are the same, there are so many things to learn, and I get to meet people from different backgrounds,” she says.

From crafting documents for container shipping and marketing to crewing and operations, Kelen has dipped her fingers into myriad maritime roles. Today, her speciality is chartering, where she looks out for cargo that fits her company’s vessels.

“It is essentially a sales and marketing job,” she explains. “Instead of  selling a tangible product, we sell space on our vessels.”

Her knack for distilling her job description into layman terms explains her reputation as a patient, nurturing character in the company. She is known as the go-to person for young charterers and vessel operators in the team. “Maritime is an industry that will widen your horizons. If  you enjoy meeting people and are hungry for knowledge, this industry has unceasing opportunities for you to learn,” she shares.


Farhana binte Samat ABOVE RIGHT, Ship Operator, Odfjell Singapore

Ensuring a smooth voyage is not just the job of  the crew on board; it requires the combined efforts of  charterers, brokers, agents, ship managers, the crew, and suppliers of  shipping necessities.

And the person who ties it all together: a ship operator like Farhana.

Farhana is a multitasker who has to communicate with all these parties daily to ensure that shipments are carried out without a hitch. This may sound like a tall order, but Farhana takes it all in her stride. “Work can be daunting at times as ships are moving 24/7, so it is very important that you don’t panic when things get overwhelming,” she says.

Amid the bustle of  work, Farhana finds joy in hanging out with colleagues who come from all walks of  life. “There is a nice mix of backgrounds and experiences, so there isn’t any issue about blending in. You get to hear fascinating stories from ex-sailors and shore-based personnel,” she shares.

ON KELEN: Dress, Sabrina Goh. Earrings, Swarovski.
ON FARHANA: Top and skirt, Revolte. Earrings and necklace, Swarovski.
LOCATION: Distrii Singapore.
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"It’s the gratitude I get at the end of the day that keeps me in the job and drives me onwards."


Tracy Gaowen, Senior Manager, Marine Personnel, Fleet Division, PIL

Tales of  life at sea from her seafaring uncle and grandfather intrigued Tracy when she was a little girl. It prompted her to ask herself: “If  I had a chance, what would I do to improve the life of a seafarer?”

In her search for an answer, she worked towards a master’s degree in maritime studies, and is now a senior crewing manager who ensures that ships are manned by qualified and competent crew.

In a sector known for its high manpower turnover, Tracy has earned a reputation for having high crewretention rates – a real feat, as these individuals come from varied countries and cultural backgrounds.

She believes one needs to be sensitive to the emotional and psychological needs of  the crew. Over the years, she has learnt to listen to feedback post-voyage. “What I’ve learnt is that each crew member is unique, and the element of  handling ‘multicultural’ differences plays a very important role.”

Brocade dress, Whole9Yards. Earrings, Swarovski. Slingback shoes, Aldo. LOCATION: The Co.