We had the good fortune of connecting with SEDA TURHAN and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi SEDA, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Women are strong by nature; this is something we have been granted. I think there is nothing we cannot achieve. My priority has always been to try to do my job right (I have worked really hard), the rest was time, patience, and perseverance.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I graduated from Istanbul Technical University, Maritime Faculty. I am an engineer and also an Oceangoing Master. Until my open sea training at the end of my first year, I did not aim to be a captain. After a 3 month of internship, I realized that being a seafarer; working onboard; abroad; being far from home; family, and friends; living and working on a floating steel structure; is not only a profession, but also a lifestyle to be adopted. After graduating from university at the end of 4 years, and getting my Oceangoing Watchkeeping Officer License, my professional maritime career started. I’ve been able to visit so many countries, and experience so many different cultures, all while doing what I love. I have worked on countless container vessels and had the privilege of handing over 6 newly built vessels for Turkey. I am very proud to say that I am one of the first female Oceangoing Masters (Captain) in my country (Turkey).
Women are strong by nature; this is something we have been granted. I think there is nothing we cannot achieve. Maritime is a very difficult profession. Not only physically, but it is also psychologically tiring. Everything aside, you constantly find unpredictable variables such as struggling with nature. When I completed my first contract, my goal was to take my maritime life to the top of my career and become an Oceangoing Master. Despite all its difficulties; I’m not even talking about the difficulties of being a woman here; Maritime is a though profession for human beings, I loved and embraced the profession so much that I believed I could do it so well, that I never thought to quit without reaching my goal. Although it is challenging, being a mariner is a very sacred profession. Even as I am not currently working onboard, this thought has never changed. It was not easy for any of us to be one of the firsts on this job as a woman in a male-dominated profession. As women, we had to fight prejudices first. Always having to prove ourselves biases head on.
I think I am lucky in this regard. Since I completed my journey in a corporate company, my priority has always been to try to do my job right, the rest was time, patience, and perseverance.
Generally, I do not like to distinguish between men and women. It feels more fair to evaluate the issues under one roof. The maritime sector is very special, and it requires its employees to be well equipped and self-sacrificing. This is due to the fact that it is possible to encounter a surprise or a crisis in almost every field of the industry at all hours of the day. This will never change as long as ships operate 24/7, around the globe, and every day of the year. It is not a profession that everyone can do, but I do not see any obstacle for people who love this profession and want to pursue it.
At the end of 2017, I have changed my course to a new horizon with my experience gained in onboard life, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations and decided to become an investor. I am the founding partner of Domer Trade and Domer Marine companies located in South Florida, I take my container experience to a different level and develop environmentally friendly, sustainable, recycling projects from containers. We are the business and strategy partner of Orka Informatics in the US, which provides extensive services in VR, AR, Online Training, 3D Modeling, Animations.
If we talk for women; unfortunately, around the globe, they will continue to fight against prejudices for a while, but they continue to show themselves in every field, increasing my hope for the future. What we have done so far, the point we have reached is the best indicator of what else we can do. If they find their talents, expectations, and what they want; If they take the right steps, have patience, think broadly (it is important for them to improve their vision here), leaving their comfort zone from time to time, they will surely achieve their goals. As Heraclitus said, “Everything changes but change itself. There is nothing permanent except change.” Change does not happen in a day either, but the part we witnessed is also exciting. We have to invest in young women with coaching, networking, mentoring and inspire them to lead the change for a gender-equal future in society.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Probably she will come directly to my house 🙂 so it is not necessary to arrange any other accommodations. I would give her a good overview from the Florida Keys until Key West. We would have a dinner at Islamorada Fish Company while overlooking the amazing bayside of the Florida Gulf Coast with legendary sunset and soft bay breezes. I would show her the Everglades National Park by airboat, and I would take her to Whiskey Creek for kayaking. To explore different parts of South Florida, I’d take her to Wynwood, Miami Design District, and the beaches for sure especially South Beach. We would have a road trip to Naples and Saint Petersburg. We would have food and drinks in different cafes along the way. I would take her to Boatyard for lunch on 17th Street and an after-dinner drink and music at Blue Martini Brickell.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents always supported me in my decisions. This support has given me strength, courage, and the freedom to achieve my goals. Through my journey, there are too many people to mention who touched and helped me to shape my life. I graduated from Istanbul Technical University Maritime Faculty and I am grateful for my school and everybody who inspired me during this period, especially my lecturers. I started my maritime career as a cadet on commercial cargo vessels belonging to Arkas Holding S.A. and continued as the first female captain of the company. I will be always grateful to Arkas and the Chairman Mr. Lucien Arkas for the opportunity. I have served as the General Secretary and Head of the Women’s Working Group at the Chamber of Marine Engineers (GEMIMO) affiliated with UCTEA (TMMOB) in Turkey. I have been involved in different projects, organizations, and roles, especially leadership roles. All of these experiences impacted my life significantly. Everyone I have had the honor to work with will be special for me forever. I must also mention WISTA (Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association) as their continuous support and opportunities are always so valuable for me. Finally, I would like to thank my husband for supporting me immensely at every crossroads.