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Hi. I am a shipping company director, transport academic, author, family man and all round nice guy. I have worked as shipbroker, shipowner, freight trader and bulk charterer, in senior positions, with some of the largest and most disrespected (joke) companies in the world. Ask my advice on all things shipping and you will receive my blunt and always honest answer. Hang around to learn more about chartering and ship broker salaries, chartering and ship broker jobs, chartering and shipbroker recruitment agencies, cheap freight, maritime education, chartering and ship broker qualifications, become a ship broker, tips on how to be a successful bulk shipping executive, philosophy, Zen and the art of shipbroking, and much more. Yours The Virtual Shipbroker (recently proclaimed the guru of shipbroking) Copyright © 2009-17 by Virtualshipbroker

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A good question - Females as shipbrokers!

NatC writes

Anonymous said...
Hi VS,
I am wondering in the line of shipbroking, whether there is any discrimination against females?
You see, I'm interested in this line, but I've heard that companies often preferred males due to the need for shipbrokers to engage in "entertainment"..
Is this true? And if it is, may I know what sort of entertainment is in store usually?
BTW, u have a great blog, keep it up! :)


A good question Natc. I have a view on this but what I would like is for some of my female readers (those in the industry) to maybe share their views regarding woman in the shipbroking workplace. Men out there are also welcome to have a say. Reminder you can do so anonomously if you wish because its an interesting topic and the VS blog is the only platform that will enable these interesting topics to be discussed.
Come on - I dare you!



  1. entertaining is a form of bribery. Why should a broker do this? Does he not have the ability to present a good enough deal for the client to bite? Does the broker feel so weak and lacking in the benefits of the product he is offering his customer, by way of service etc... In most industries, there will always be 2 types of people. One will be the wimps, and the other, the real men(or women), or can hold there head up high and say, i don't do that sh*t. They have the balls to clench deals the ethical way.

  2. Strong words anon.

    I thought this topic would solicit some strong opinions. I am not a natural entertainer - perse' but I must admit its not always the brokers who push this. I know many principals who insist on ebing entertained and will only fix with brokers who spend thousands of dollars 'entertaining' them.

    Any comments?


  3. Ha interesting

    Now in the world of sales, one(salesman) leads the customer or lets say owner in this case, down a road, ultimately selling his services/product. He is gaining approval(listening to buying signals), looking at those nods, and hearing out those 'ah ha, ah ha', then he strikes, he asks for the business. Yes the principal has not been entertained, but he has been taken down this road like no other, he is left with no choice but to accept if he likes what he hears. Like vs once mentioned on his post, 'just ask'. But before that, the broker needs to build the road... This is sales. I know from expereince these type of clients, they are very clever and cunning, they can sense by looking into the eyes of the salesman, what they can get,(if anything), at the same time, they will also understand, that this guy(or woman) means serious business. A good salesman always has a stronger gentle upperhand.

  4. Here is my spin. Yes shipping and shipbroking is a heavily male orientated vocation. And like merchant banking, politics, and some other male dominated industries woman can face tough time being takes seriously and being treated well.

    Traditionally shipbrokers are white anglo christian men aged between 20 and 60 who enjoy playing golf, deepsea fishing, watching grandprix and have the occassional visits to girly bars. I myself tick just about all of the above boxes.

    The problem here is that the dominant culture will create the culture. And most of us dont ever realise we are doing it. There is a general lack of self awareness in most business communities and shipping is no different

    But the good news people is that times are changing. Shipbrokers these days are from a lot healthy mix of society. Globalisation will do this. People of all religions, colours and cultures are increqasingly represented. There are also more woman these days which is long overdue.

    SO the problem of discrimintation is still there but with strong people and time this will change. My advice to anyone feeling descrimininated against or feeling somehow on the outer......find collegues, clients and principlas who you feel comfoprtable with. SOme of the most suiccessful people are people who operate in niches becuase they are unable to get the same support in the mainstream. If you are a woman, work with other woman or try and find men who leave sexism at the door. If you are a muslim who doesnt drink find others (not necessarily) muslims who will respect that.

    For longevity and self respect in the industry being yoruself is of utmnost importance - despite what can be an angry pack asking you to behave in a way that doesnt sit well.

    Stay brave - fix deals


  5. And by the way (as my wife points out) if the descrimination is unlawful sue the buggers. Its happened before and no one needs to be unhappy in the work place.

    Keep records, copy conversations and then hittem where it hurst. A few well publicised cases over the last few years.


  6. "there are some that work hard and there some that don't, but they all will be judged according to the results they produce"

    rightly said mr vs. stay brave and fix deals, because there will be 2 things that will command respect, 1-pulling the deals 2-personality(one may not please everyone, or be invited to their birthday party), so keeping proffesional relationship is the best way. As soon as one walks out of the office door, then it is wise to disappear into thin air. let the wimps take their clients/associates to girly bars, the real men(women) will have a life to go to.

    lack out posting on this blog- is it because most are whimps in the industry, let the real people shout load and clear, there is nothing to fear.

    kepp blogging mr vs!!!!

  7. Ah - i see yu have read my book!

    Nice comments anon. I tend to agree. I have a genreal rule these days. The cinderella rule. When the clock hits midnight - go home to my wife!

    Nothing much good happens after 12 when the results fo 5 hours of heavy drinking kick in.

    Can get ugly. Believe it or not ive seen 'normal' people do fairly depraved things. I have even seen one broker stab another competing broker after a heated conversation. It wasnt too bad just a graze but the market knew about it pretty quickly.

    Be true to yourself. If its not your thing - dont do it!


  8. There are no rules to the game..just bcz the pack does it doesnt mean its a 'RULE'.. like anon a few posts above, stick around and find similar people..BTW there are a few firms which do not entertain clients at dinners but lunches are ok!!

    the point is imagine its a fish market, a good fishmonger knows how to keep clients coming back.. you can find your own way to sell fish .. nothings wrong and nuthings wrong..just be ethical

  9. fish markets are ok except if there are too many 'gropers'!

    boom boom tish


  10. Comments from a woman shipbroker: It’s true, most men in this field tend to look at women as an employee who is not much more than a highly skilled secretary which of course is not true.

    Men have their way of dealing with things and women have theirs. This is a job that requires many skills which are most certainly part of the female way of thinking and acting.

    The real question is if a woman is up to working 24/7 doing something that is stressful but rewarding (when the damn deal is finally closed).

    If you like challenges then yes, you can do it and men will eventually realize that you are a good professional.

    But the fact is that many companies only hire men brokers… I say it’s their loss…

    Meantime I have received info that a women shipbrokers net is coming together which should be able to support the ladies in the industry… we will see…

  11. Hello Pilarin - thanks for the well considered comments. From a guys perspective I actually agree that many shops are disadvantaged by not having woman in broking positions. You need a balance and with the ease of offsite communication it allows more flexibility for those woman (and men) that may need it for family reasons.

    Shipbroking doesnt need to be WAR. One can actgually go to work, do deals, and have a life.

    Good luck to the female shipbrokers network. If you want me to speak at one of your functions (from a guys perspective)let me know!