Greetings to all. This year has seen further change, not only in the country with the appointment of a new President but a further change in the ICS South Africa, Durban office. Our interim Branch Manager, Dean Fraser left at the end of August to take up a new challenge elsewhere although he remains an active member of our committee and as a tutor. The new Branch Manager is none other than me – that is Glynis McGrath of long-standing in the shipping industry. I started with an International commodity trading company in Johannesburg in the mid 1980’s as a secretary and within six months moved into the shipping department and my love for the industry continues unabated although in a slightly less hands-on sphere. My experience encompasses all areas of shipping, metal trading, trading aluminium on the London Metal Exchange and a fair dose of experience in Trade Finance. I left South Africa in 2006 to live in the U.K. and the experience gained until that time stood me in good stead whilst working for two trading companies in London. A major difference for me was that my positions in S.A. enabled me to use all of my experience in the various areas whereas in the U.K. one was pigeon-holed into using one aspect of one’s experience only thereby curtailing my quest for more variety and the opportunity to gain new knowledge in all areas instead of just one.
I am excited to be involved in the ICS as the role is varied and the most exciting aspect is involvement with the students. They come from varied backgrounds and experiences but each is blessed with curiosity and the desire to learn.
What has become apparent to me is the difficulty students face having come from the diminished standards promoted by our Education Department. This does not encourage students to strive for higher and better but allows mediocrity in achievement. Our rigid international standards and the 50% pass mark is a challenge (and a mystery) for many. I have tried to assist our students by sending out essay-writing tips as well as incorporating the ideas found on the ICS UK website. The feedback from the students has been encouraging. One becomes aware that whilst they are all adults and should be self-motivating, the smallest sign of interest shown and some encouragement are always welcome and well-received.
My mandate has been to raise the profile of the Institute and one area I decided to use to do this was on social media via LinkedIn and Facebook. LinkedIn has been especially useful as from a connection of one we now have over 600 from any number of different industries closely and, not so closely, related to the maritime industry. What is good is to see the number of ‘views’ each post has so you know the message is being received; our only hope now is that the ‘views’ materialise into registrations for courses. Another area we are targeting is school-leavers and students presently doing maritime studies in Grade 12. We have and will continue to visit local schools to garner interest in the industry by these young, keen minds. To this end, we would ask any company who offers internship to school leavers to let us know so as to make our students aware of these opportunities. To all our students, I wish you success in 2019 and ask that you spread the word about the advantage of studying with the ICS.