A Sea of Opportunities Through Mentorship Programme
Captain Lee Chee Seong’s seafaring career has taken him to many countries around the world including Africa and Latin America. His many adventures and experiences has brought one key message; that people matters. Captain Lee originated from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and he is now the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of APL, CMA-CGM Group; the world’s third-largest shipping and transportation company. Through the years, he has successfully mentored numerous maritime leaders such as Chief Officer Milli Koh and many more in their seafaring career.
Support beyond the seas
One of Captain Lee’s proudest and greatest achievements whilst in APL is the ability to uphold high retention in the industry. Wondered how he achieved it? Simple; by showing care and concern for his crew and their families. Separation from family while at work can be difficult and one of the main reasons for high turnover. The APL Seafarers’ Wives Club was founded as a result to provide the necessary family support and went on to win an award from the Singapore HR Institute.
“There was an incident where the Chief Officer’s wife was involved in an accident and no one knew about it. The team realised that APL staff and their spouses were not acquainted with each another, hence the family support groups were set up to provide friendship and care while their spouses were away. Funds were set aside to organise activities such as outings and gatherings to strengthen ties. This was well received by both the crews and their family” Captain Lee shared.
Seafaring as a secure career choice
Captain Lee has a long history of effectively mentoring the younger generations to help them progress further into their career. Chief Engineer Kong Yong Sheng, one of Captain Lee’s mentee, had the privilege to be under his mentorship.
“It’s important to identify a mentor that you can approach, seek guidance and support on your career progression. The mentoring sessions has helped me weigh a few career opportunities on which suited me best. ” said Yong Sheng.
Captain Lee also shared his maritime career experiences as a speaker on several occasions at family engagements organised for the prospective cadets under the Tripartite Nautical Training Award initiative, often addressing the concerned families on seafaring as a career choice. He took the time to reassure and address common questions that were raised. Most common topics are as such:
1. Safe working environment
Creating a safe working environment onboard the ship is important; not only to ensure the crews go home safely to their families but for their families to have an ease of mind while they work. Safety and procedures onboard the ship has always been the top priority and zero tolerance for non-compliance. Crews are taught to cultivate good and positive attitude to ensure safety and health of both men and women onboard.
2. Career opportunities
Seafaring has conventionally been stereotyped as the last career choice for poor academic performers. Kong Yong Sheng, who obtained good grades for ‘O’ Levels and could have picked any junior college of his choice. Instead, he saw potential and opted for seafaring as his career path. The opportunities in the seafaring fields are growing, especially with multiple entry points, encompassing a variety of ranks. Likewise, more structured training programmes and certifications are introduced and tailored to the growing pool of talents.
3. Attractive remunerations
Seafarers’ remunerations are normally above similar professions ashore. On top of it, opportunities for accumulating savings are considerable, given the nature of being onboard the ship; where all lodging, amenities and basic necessities are well taken care of.
For Captain Lee, there is a lot to being a seafarer; the challenges are immense and demanding. While there are many reasons to be a seafarer, yet it is his passion, eagerness and pride for being a seafaring that led him to share his knowledge, experience and mentorship which no one could take away from him.
Ready to discover how you can start with a meaningful career in seafaring through mentorship programme?