Women in Shipping: Nataly Kokhanaya

Nataly Kokhanaya, Director of BSM Crew Service Centres Russia, is used to charting new waters.

After graduating from university in the early 2000s, Nataly began her work at BSM as an English Language Inspector assessing Russian seafarers’ English proficiency. But it wasn’t long before she set out on her voyage into fleet management, becoming one of the first women in the company to oversee a tanker fleet.

“Over the years, my role as an English Language Inspector lost its relevance,” Nataly explains. “Therefore, I became Assistant to the Fleet Personnel Officer, and after 10 years of good service, I was promoted to Senior Fleet Personnel Officer.”

Nataly says it was her relentless determination and resourcefulness that allowed her to break stereotypes and forge a path for herself in the shipping industry.

“My entire career has drawn upon my desire and ability to learn,” she notes. “When I began managing fleets at BSM, I was one of the first women to work with a tanker fleet, and I used all of the materials available to learn – which wasn’t a lot at that time. I have always been keen on finding solutions in the midst of difficult situations.”

After serving BSM for 13 years and obtaining an additional four years of experience at another shipping organisation, Nataly was offered the director’s position for BSM’s Crew Service Centres Russia, based out of St. Petersburg. Driven by her desire for lifelong learning, Nataly fully embraced the new challenge.

“My motto is ‘do it well or don’t do it at all’,” Nataly remarks. “I graduated from university with an engineering degree, maybe that’s why I’m constantly trying to understand problems and offer solutions.”

But Nataly believes there is more to success than just hard work. She credits her colleagues’ support and encouragement as an important factor in her career development.

“Throughout my years in this industry, I have been surrounded by team players at all times,” Nataly reflects. “I am truly thankful for their help and support.”

When asked her advice for young females entering the shipping industry, Nataly shares, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you are interested and willing, everything is possible.”

“I believe everyone, regardless of their gender, can succeed in the shipping industry. The only thing that stands between you and your dream is the willingness to try and believe in yourself!”

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