Fri | Nov 22, 2019

Hortense Ross-Innerarity : Breaking the glass ceiling

Published:Monday | March 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMJanet Silver
Hortense behind the steering wheel.

While females have for decades been trying to break the proverbial glass ceiling in male-dominated positions, for Hortense Ross-Innerarity, it has never been a case of merely wanting to fit in.

A two-time graduate of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), in the areas of nautical studies and international shipping and logistics, Ross-Innerarity, with 30 years of experience in the shipping industry, is also the first female superintendent of pilotage at the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ).

She has also lectured at the CMU in the areas of commercial shipping, economics of shipping, international trade and finance (maritime transportation), and maritime security, and continues to be a leading industry practitioner in the maritime transportation and port services.

But with all the accolades from a road well-travelled, Ross-Innerarity will readily admit that one of the most fulfilling moments on this improbable journey was when she was engaged by the PAJ for the position she has now held for the past 20 years.

"In March 1998, although not being Jamaica's first female maritime administrator, I broke the glass ceiling when I was engaged by the Port Authority in the capacity of superintendent of pilotage," Ross-Innerarity explained. "My journey was, and still, is underpinned by knowledge acquisition, knowledge application and knowledge sharing."

"In short, being the superintendent of pilotage here at the PAJ requires having a detailed knowledge of the international shipping industry. It also means having detailed knowledge of the interests of the different stakeholders in order to develop business process systems that will be responsive to their needs, she further explained.

"I also have oversight responsibility for the marine pilots, pilot dispatchers, apprentice pilots and a small administrative support staff. With the acquisition of the new pilot boats, I have been charged with the responsibility to manage the pilot boat service as well ... so I am also responsible for the pilot boat crew."

Ross-Innerarity said the position also requires her to have an intimate knowledge of the local shipping industry and the ports being serviced "by our pilots in order to receive and process requests for pilotage on a real-time basis".

She added that while it is certainly flattering to be the first at anything, it is even more satisfying when it can bring about a positive change and "inspire others".

Ross-Innerarity started what she now describes as "my journey" at the Jamaica Maritime Training Institute in 1985, where she pursued the four-year programme in nautical studies, specialising in navigation.




She noted that at the time, studies in navigation and marine engineering were very new to Jamaica and the Caribbean, as a career option.

"So in recognising the challenges ahead, I saw the need to have persons trained for shore-based jobs and decided very early that I wanted to be an important part of Jamaica's Maritime Industry," Ross-Innerarity added.

"I developed a personal development plan which required me to pursue studies first in business management and administration and then specialised in maritime management, maritime pilotage administration, and later international business, entrepreneurship and business coaching. It was while studying business management and administration in 1989 that I wrote to the institute and suggested that they should consider offering programmes of studies that will address the needs of shore-based personnel as well."

"Today, we have trained and certified marine pilots who are among the best in the world. We have kept pace with the use of technology in service delivery and develop systems and procedures that are result-oriented and focused on staff empowerment and customer service," she added.

She also had high praises for her family, adding that "I had a very supporting, loving and caring husband who helped me tremendously to pursue my dreams.

"Unfortunately, I lost him suddenly, one year ago," she noted. "However, when you are passionate about your job and enjoy what you do, then what drives you is your desire to succeed, to get positive results and to empower those around you."