Port logistics has traditionally been perceived as a male-dominated industry. The usual perception of the jobs as consisting of “hard labour” has led to the whole sector being considered as a workplace unsuitable for women. And if there were women working in the industry, they were typically associated with departments such as finance, administration, legal or customer relations, while operations were “reserved” for men.

The negative consequences of such a stereotypical approach have impacted the ability of women to realise their career ambitions in the port logistics industry, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been undertaking efforts to promote gender equality and encourage women in the sector.

Marco Neelsen, CEO, PTP, believes gender equality and diversity are crucial to continued success as Asia-Pacific’s prime transshipment and free zone business hub. Through various initiatives, PTP has focused on exploring opportunities to increase the participation of women in both operational and leadership positions.

“Apart from being a melting pot of employees from all backgrounds, including different ethnicities and nationalities, the female talents at PTP are a perfect example of how women continuously challenge the boundaries by not only working at the desk, but also being actively involved in operations,” said Neelsen.

“Since its inception in 2000, PTP has always been at the forefront of progressiveness and inclusivity by diversifying the leadership and investing in development programmes and on-the-job experience to accelerate career progression.”

To deliver on its ambition, PTP has worked on various talent enrichment initiatives via academia collaboration, with the Young Engineer Apprenticeship Programme (YEAP) and Port Operational Planning Apprenticeship Programme (POPA). Through these collaborations, participating young talents, many of them female, are trained and exposed to the complex job dynamics in PTP and learn how to build leadership skills. This, in turn will equip them to become better, all-rounded talents in the future and supplement the port industry with a young graduate talent pool that meets the requirements in the long run.

PTP has also actively been involved in industry collaborations with organisations for technical certification training and other leadership development programmes, such as the Talent Exchange Programme and Female Terminal Equipment Operator Fast Track Up-Skilling Programme.

As part of the latter, selected female operations staff with high potential were enrolled to a specialised training programme that will catapult their careers from prime mover drivers to quay crane clerks, rubber-tyred gantry crane (RTG) operators and quay crane operators.

“Even though I never learnt how and never operated any heavy vehicle in my life before, I was given the chance to prove myself. I was even more surprised when I was told I would become one of the pioneers of female prime mover drivers in the history of PTP,” said Siti Sukma Drahman, prime mover driver at PTP.

“My journey in PTP has shown that the port operations do not require muscle. Although there had been an initial resistance by some of the male staff to the idea of having female drivers working alongside them, as me and other female colleagues proved our mettle, they have since accepted us.

“Moving forward, I aspire to become an RTG operator and progress further as a quay crane operator.”

“When I told my parents that I wanted to quit my teaching job to go working with PTP as a prime mover driver, they were shocked,” added Nurul Farhana Madani, RTG operator at PTP. “Naturally, my parents were hesitant at first to allow me to pursue my interest, but after some explaining, they understood.

“As an RTG operator, I need to be fully aware of my surroundings. However, even though I chose a high-risk career, I feel comfortable and safe because I’m constantly reminded to be careful, either by my colleagues or the company.”

In 2021, in conjunction with the International Women’s Day celebration, PTP unveiled a new fleet of pink prime movers and launched a recruitment programme called PTP Female Employee Referral Programme.

The unveiling of PTP’s fleet of pink prime movers not only represented its commitment to female recruitment initiatives but acknowledged and celebrated the progress and excellence the female workforce has contributed to the growth and the sustainability of PTP.

PTP is reaping the fruit of its efforts. At present, its female workforce represents 7% or around 393 workers, in management and non-management positions. Out of this, 266 work in operations, engineering, safety and security.