Customer Relations Manager at BSM Germany, the affable Kristina Rittgerodt entered the shipping industry quite by accident more than two decades back.
“Shipping found me. I was at a crossroad in my life, where I wanted to try something new. I noticed an intriguing job advertisement in the Athens News. They were looking for a native English speaker, to assist the Managing Director with vessel operations of his vessel,” Kristina explains.
“We were a team of three; the owner, a technical manager (me), and one chemical tanker. It was a fantastic opportunity as I was actively involved in all aspects of operations with my primary task being implementing the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, which was at this time in its infancy stage,” Kristina adds.
“My parents were a little concerned when I joined the shipping industry. They are from a more conservative generation and they were not exactly pleased to learn that I was traveling on board the vessels with ‘all those men.’ However, through the years, I have been able to educate them and now they are supportive,” she explains.
She has not looked back from the modest beginnings in 1997. After gaining the experience required, Kristina moved to Germany in 2000 and joined the Schulte Group.
Along the way, she has garnered several accolades at BSM, including being the first female Health, Safety, Environment and Quality (HSEQ) Officer, HSEQ Co-ordinator, first Deputy Loss Prevention, Safety and Quality (LPSQ) Manager, and the first female Designated Person Ashore/Company Security Officer (DPA/CSO).
Working in BSM’s LPSQ department, Kristina implemented and developed processes and procedures for the ISM Code, International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code and Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).
“There are no ‘free lunches’,” she warns. “While there are no barriers anymore and attitudes towards women are changing in the industry, respect must be earned while remaining true to yourself.”
“While it is a continual juggling act, work/life balance is still possible with proper time management and planning. I am fortunate to have a very supportive husband and social network, who jump in to assist with family tasks as needed,” she explains.