The lady at the helm - Meet Kisha Williams-Hare at Carib Star
When Kisha Williams-Hare began her journey in shipping some two decades ago, she perhaps never knew where it would take her. Today, she is the deputy general manager of Carib Star Shipping Limited, the Jamaican agent for ZIM, one of the premier shipping lines in the world.
On January 4, 2016, she took on the task of running the day-to-day operations of the company in the wake of the relocation to ZIM’s Miami offices of her boss, Captain Diedrich Suendermann, who also serves on the management committee of the Shipping Association of Jamaica.
ZIM has served the Jamaican market for more than 40 years and is the only major shipping line that has established unbroken service to the port of Kingston, supporting Jamaican businesses and citizens by taking Jamaican exports out into the world and bringing raw materials and consumer goods to this island without fail. The line offers services in Kingston as well as in Montego Bay (through trans-shipment via Kingston). Carib Star Shipping, a fully owned subsidiary, has operated as ZIM’s agent in Jamaica since 1989.
Kisha Williams-Hare has been at Carib Star since June 1996, making 2016 her 20th year in this dynamic industry. She began as a customer service representative in the Imports Department, where she impressed her supervisors enough for them to offer her the opportunity to learn the other side of the business in the Exports Department.
As her knowledge and expertise grew, she applied for the position of marketing executive and got it. This proved a big transition for the hard-working Williams-Hare. At the front line, she was dealing with brokers and truckers. As a marketing executive, she was dealing with the importers the actual owners.
“It was challenging because now you have to know everything about ZIM where they are coming from, where they are going, and how you are going to get a new customer to buy into the services you are offering. You have to remember that you are not only selling the company, you are selling yourself as their representative. They have to believe that I, as their representative, will represent them well,” she explained as she sat in her office in the Newport West location of Carib Star Shipping.
Determination to excel
Her determination to excel ensured her continuous growth as she took on more and more clients until she got a call from the managing director saying that she was needed back in customer service, the area she sees as a core part of Carib Star’s success in the industry. She was promoted to customer service manager in 2005, and has made great inroads into improving service offerings since.
“I tell my team all the time that you have the other shipping lines that we compete against. We are going to the same places, offering the same transit, but what will stand out is the service. Customers will remember your service. You have to make yourself memorable to be able to retain your customers,” she emphasised.
In February of last year, she was again promoted, this time to deputy general manager.
“I enjoy what I do. I have been here for 20 years, so I must be happy with my job. But this promotion with this new title meant, to me, that I would have to learn operations and finance. One has to continuously grow and a position like this pushes you to learn and expand (your) skills. Captain Suendermann has so much confidence in me that I can handle this role, and I don’t want to let him down,” she added.
In an industry that is becoming increasingly attractive to young professionals seeking to carve themselves a unique and rewarding career path, Williams-Hare trumpets the virtues of the sector.
“The shipping sector is so multifaceted, it is very dynamic. There are so many things you can learn. I am excited about 2016 with all the changes that are coming, such as the logistics hub, and the developments with CMA-CGM taking over the KCT. It’s an exciting time in the industry now, I think, and a good time to come into shipping,” she noted.