Jurga Šiugždinytė, the Head of Procurement and the Purchasing Department at AROS Marine

Women make up only 2 percent of the global maritime workforce. However, 94 percent of female seafarers work in the cruise industry. And in recent years cruise lines have reported increases in the numbers of female captains. They’ve also focused on growing the percentage of women in their workforce. There is still much to do, so it is important that we learn from the women that have broken ground in the industry before. We hear today from Jurga Šiugždinytė, the Head of Procurement and the Purchasing Department at AROS Marine.

Jurga talked frankly with us about what it takes to be a leader, her inspirations and how she finds order in the chaos!

What do you think are the major challenges of a modern female leader?

First of all, answering your question, I would like to quote Mark Sanborn, ‘You don’t need a title to be a leader’, as I believe it is most suitable here. The challenges, as I see it, are generally universal. The main one is to maintain personal and professional boundaries and to avoid micromanagement.  It is also important to have authority over your team, and at the same time to be supportive and encouraging for them to achieve the best results.

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Who inspires you?

It is not one person that inspires me, but a bunch of them. I am lucky to have worked with outstanding managers and executives, from whom I’ve learned a great deal. All of them were leaders in the first place, not afraid to risk and make out of the box decisions and loyal to their team. Today it is the people I work with, both my team and other managers, their support and trust, that motivate me. What I’ve learned from them is very well put by Becky Brodin, ‘Leadership is not wielding authority, it’s empowering people.’

We often hear that time management is the key and finding the balance between career and family isn’t exactly a piece of cake. What three pieces of advice or useful tools could you recommend to your colleagues?

Concerning time management, first of all, it is to avoid chaos in everyday activity. Plan your works by minute, put them in order and do not violate that order.

Second, make sure to have the right priorities: reschedule less necessary and urgent meetings for when you have more free time.

And finally, try to find your inner balance, because only when you are happy and satisfied you can be 100% efficient at work. As to the work-life balance, I believe that family and health should always be in the first place.

What would be your pieces of advice to a newcomer?

Always be open to new experiences, don’t be afraid to take risks when making a decision and don’t forget that everything is up to you, your endeavours and dedication. Be grateful for criticism, as it helps you improve yourself and don’t give up if something goes wrong, because, you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I’d like to summarize it with T. Arigo’s words, ‘The hardest thing to do is leaving your comfort zone. But you have to let go of the life you’re familiar with and take the risk to live the life you dream about.’