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Women in shipping: Gianna Simoni – One of the first Greek captains gives her own advice

“To dream. If you don’t dream it, there’s no reason to do it. Any profession if you don’t dream about it, there is no reason to do it. And let them reach where they can and where they can’t, as Kazantzakis would say.” With these words, Gianna Simoni, one of the first Greek female Captains, Director of Studies at the Center for the Training of Merchant Navy Executives (KESEN – Captains department), gives her own advice to the new generation of women who want to engage in the maritime profession.

Gianna Simoni, is the first woman in the history of Naval Education in Greece who has taken over the Directorate of Studies at the Masters School. But it is not the only “first” that succeeds. Service on ships, involvement in naval training, difficult crisis situations crowned with success but also her fight for the new generation of women to find more open doors are some of her important achievements.

Captain Gianna Simoni notes that the difficulties she faced when starting her naval career were many, but nothing was able to deprive her of her dream. “The difficulties I faced as a woman were great. There was the possibility of participation for a limited number of women and difficulty in finding a job. When you got on the steamer, you were ‘dying’ to prove that you could. Our own generation of officers, regardless of gender, has greatly improved the acceptance of women in shipping. It was a big gamble for me. I thought I was building for the next generations as well,” she says.

“It’s not about gender, it’s about ability”

Now, as she explains, the career path for women in shipping has improved significantly. “I have met so many mates, masters and engineers, very dynamic girls. It’s not about gender, it’s about ability, it’s about personality, it’s about character. Subject of organization, goals, performance. Hard work, teamwork and responsibility. And, one step at a time. The maritime profession requires knowledge and sacrifices. Surely what you gain is more. This is what I try to pass on to the young children here at KESEN Ploiarchon, in the classrooms, on the simulators, in the auditorium.”

Simonis passion is enviable. “When my children grow up, I want to go back to boating. I never want to stop dreaming. A dream I told my husband, if the children grow up and I can leave for a while, is to cross the Strait of Magellan. I will do it even if I enter again as a sub-captain or a cadet” she declares.

It is noted that cpt Gianna Simoni is writing the book “Crisis Management” for the students of the Masters School of the Merchant Marine Academies, which will be published by the Eugenides Foundation in September 2024.