Seafarer Interview: Leading The Engine Room During The Pandemic with Nyari Nain
On the 20th of November, and as part of the #SeafarersPointOfView campaign of Safebridge and SafeMetrix, we had the honor to speak to Nyari Nain – a wonderful and inspiring marine engineer from India. Although she was on board the ship and had just completed her work shift, Nyari found some time to share her perspective on various topics, which are currently surrounding the shipping industry. In less than 30 minutes, we covered the global COVID-19 pandemic and what it feels like to be promoted to a leadership position amidst such uncertain times. We also talked about gender equality in the maritime industry as Nyari, together with other women in shipping, represents only 2% of all seafarers in the world.
The interview was hosted by Safebridge Global Sales Leader Emmanolia Kolias.
Promoted to a leadership position during the pandemic
Nyari signed off from her last ship in December 2019. At that time, New Delhi – the capital of India, where she lives with her family, was going through the first lockdown because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the city. “In between this, I got a call that we are promoting you. I didn’t even think for once.” – Nyari remembers. She has been waiting for this promotion for the past few years.
Being promoted to a second engineer means that you have to look after the junior-rank crew members. While she was still a junior herself, sometimes she would hear phrases such as “See, I told you, this is very difficult for women.”, instead of getting support from her senior-level colleagues. “That used to hurt me a lot.” – Nyari says and continues: “Employees in any company grow up not just based on the salary they get; they need to be appreciated. They need to have a challenge, an adventure. When I came up to that level, now, there are boys, asking me for help because they do need it – they do need my supervision, they do get stuck with certain engineering issues, where I use my experience, my knowledge and I make sure they don’t feel offended like I was.“
Ignoring seafarers who are waiting at home to rejoin the vessels
Nyari stresses the fact that today, everyone is still focusing on the fact that many seafarers are still being stuck on board and are not being able to go back home because of the crew change crisis. However, according to her: “There are many seafarers who are waiting at home to rejoin. The junior ranks are struggling a lot.” During the interview, Nyari highlights the seafarers’ financial issues, as many of them have different loans and should support their families financially.
Frontline workers without the acknowledgment
“We have contributed in the most unrepresentative way during this pandemic apart from the frontline workers who have got the acknowledgment, and we haven’t,” – says Nyari towards the end of the interview. However, she proudly adds: “We’ve always been the strongest, that’s the fact why we are seafarers.” Her passion for the shipping industry is unconditional, and even during these challenges, Nyari keeps motivating herself and her team. As a leader, she tries her best to keep the atmosphere onboard as light as possible. Because of the virus, seafarers cannot leave a ship once it is in a port. This activity used to help seafarers improve their mental health while changing the environment for a few hours. She describes seafarers as “working professionals who stay with each other” and help the supply chain moving.
Nyari Nain is a marine engineer at Anglo-Eastern ship management company. Besides her primary marine career, she delivered an inspiring public speech at a TEDx event in March titled “Move it’s necessary.” She is also the author of a book titled “Anchor my heart” reflecting largely about seafarers’ lives and the hardships women have to undergo in the male-dominated industry.