Mary Carmen Barrios reaches impressive 7th in the Top 100 Women in Shipping
Mary Carmen Barrios is no stranger to making it on to the Top 100 Women in Shipping by Allaboutshipping.co.uk. This year, however, out of the 1,350 nominations, she made it to number 7. A feat she wasn’t expecting but doesn’t take lightly.
She says, “It’s not just about being ranked in the list but to be included among other well-known, outstanding women.” She continues “The important part is the inclusion and diversity, regardless of your ethnicity, creed, or age. That's what it's all about, creating awareness to the fact that women are adding and creating value into an industry with thousands of years of tradition and history.”
Her Background in Shipping
With 26 years of experience in shipping, (18 of those at Wallenius Wilhelmsen) Mary Carmen Barrios has been nothing but impressive so far.
She started her career at Wallenius Wilhelmsen in 2005, overseeing Operations in Panama and transits through the canal. Later, her responsibilities expanded to Latin America, from Mexico down south to Chile, including the Caribbean.
In 2020, Mary Carmen was appointed to oversee cargo operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).
At the beginning of 2021, in her new role, she relocated with her family to Antwerp in Belgium, where she is now in charge of overseeing port, terminals & stevedoring operations, including canal transits through Suez.
Moving from Panama (where there is only summer and rainy season) to Antwerp has been a transformative and reflective new experience, she says “it’s marvelous to experience four seasons and to reflect with my children that life is just like nature, you go through different seasons: a constant change. You must enjoy the current one, but always prepare for the next one!”
With the docklabor at our RoRo Rodeo training (to upscale operations staff on safe cargo handling techniques)
Her passion for shipping and its people is just as remarkable as her achievements. Speaking with the enthusiasm of someone who personifies what it is to be good at leadership, teamwork, and dedication. She’s a breath of fresh air.
“I will always be grateful for the mentoring, the coaching, and the trust that my managers and leaders have had in me, even more so 20 years ago, when there wasn’t the same openness that we have now in the industry. A leader’s trust makes the difference in someone’s career.”
In her work, she wants to convey that same feeling, among the teams she leads: “Is not just about setting direction but providing people with the energy they require to achieve their goals.”
I've known Mary Carmen for many years and have always been incredibly impressed with her abilities. She's always found her own way, relying on her confidence, persistence, and belief that there are always ways to improve both personally and professionally. I'm honored to see her and all women in Wallenius Wilhelmsen celebrated, and I do hope someday soon we have no need for these celebrations because there aren't great women in leadership - these are just great leaders!
Chief Operating Officer
It’s one of Mary Carmen’s top priorities, as our land-based activities and services are labor-intensive. “Safety is everybody’s responsibility and needs to be talked about and lived every single day. Safety and Quality are the 2 legs of the same body. You cannot move steadily forward without these two. It’s impossible to deliver high quality without safety,” she explains.
After a lecture given to master's degree students at Antwerp Management School, as part of Wallenius Wilhelmsen's corporate citizenship role with the local community
Diversity and Opportunity in Shipping
Shipping is becoming more diverse and there are endless opportunities. “The maritime workforce is diverse. In the past, shipping was considered a male industry, but it's not anymore. Certainly, new technologies and a changing image of the sector are attracting people from all backgrounds.”
However, there’s still a long way to go in demystifying (and getting young people excited to work in) shipping and logistics.
She says “there is a perception that for being in this industry you need to hold a marine officer degree, which is not the reality. At our terminals, over 50 different careers interact daily to produce the service we deliver to our customers. Data architects, industrial engineers, health & safety practitioners, mechanics, cargo superintendents, HR partners, and finance specialists are just a few examples of the wide range of roles needed.”
She is sure that as soon as young people see what they can learn and experience in shipping and logistics they’ll be attracted to join, “but first, we need to show them what it is.”
What the future holds
For Mary Carmen, there are no limits to what the future may hold, as long as you want to see others grow and succeed.
“What I try to convey to my leadership team is: to keep growing, help others to grow, because as soon as they're ready for the next step in their career path, you are ready for yours.”
She concludes “I feel that companies such as Wallenius Wilhelmsen, strive to include everybody. There are no limits. I'm proud to work for a company that believes in people, creating the necessary conditions to foster growth, allowing all contributors to become a better self. We are global shapers, driving action, positive change, and defining the future.”