Spinnaker's Commercial consultant for the UK and Europe, Lauren Guichard, was our representative at the annual Women's International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) conference in Cyprus last week. Here we get a snapshot of the event in Lauren's conference diary:
"Arrival: It's hot! I arrived in time for dinner at the gorgeous home of WISTA Cyprus president Despina Theodossiou. It was beautifully catered; we ate a buffet with representatives of each country. A lot of mingling and introductions! The evening consisted of taking pictures, drinking wine, and planning for the next couple of nights…including the promise of karaoke at some point. It was very much an informal meet and greet before the serious work began, the perfect start to the conference. What has struck me is that everyone has been so inviting; and not everyone is a seasoned delegate – some of the women had only been one year previously.
Back to hotel by a sensible 11pm (but plenty of time to chat in the bar a bit more!)
Conference Day 1. It began with food! We had a networking lunch – a mix of Lebanese and Greek food – and again it was a great chance to chat about our backgrounds and pick brains about various maritime topics. It was here that I met Birgit Liodden – the first female director of Nor Shipping, who was accompanied by her 2 month old son Erik, christened Baby WISTA (and surely the youngest delegate by some stretch!)
The AGM ran well, and the personality of the year award was won by the UK nomination, Angie Redhead, Cruise & Operations Manager, Liverpool Cruise Terminal, after great presentations by all representatives. The Cayman Islands, Malta and India joined as new members which was exciting. We congratulated the anniversaries of those member countries who are at 10, 20 and 40 years’ membership. Impressive.
We had a short 45 minutes to dash back and get changed before the cocktail reception at the Marina. It was an absolutely beautiful setting, enhanced by the fact it was really warm! Met even more people, with a great atmosphere where everyone joined in. I met George Tsavliris who was to speak the next day at the conference. I realised that the WISTA girls both work and play hard!
Conference Day 2. The conference started at 9am, covering a wide range of interesting topics from ship finance and chartering to networking and environmental issues. Yet more opportunity to meet and discuss what we had heard with fellow attendees and panellists. The sessions ended at 6 which gave us a bit of prep time for…
…the Gala Dinner! A good hour of networking – the US contingent had trademark light-up glasses making them easy to spot. The Dutch provided a male choir to entertain us over our starters, and between starter and main we all joined the Swedes in singing their tailor-made ‘Dancing Queen’ lyrics and danced (including being taught some traditional Cypriot moves by our hosts). Dinner was fantastic; certainly a night to remember.
Day 3 of the conference began at 10am and continued until 2pm, covering offshore energy and excelling shipping services. Afterwards we went on a trip around some historical sights of Cyprus to round things off. It was so nice to be able to see some of the real Cyprus, not just from a conference room.
All in all I'm exhausted, but it was an amazing experience. I've never met such a social group and as one of the closing panellists said, he has never participated in such a lively conference."
To find out more about WISTA, visit wista.net/en/site/mission-vision