Woman in leadership

L-R — Matson South Pacific regional sales manager Gerry Elbourne, Agency manager Shana Ali and Shipping Service Pte Fiji Ltd CEO Jeffery Lin during an event this year. Picture: SUPPLIED

Landing her first official management role at a shipping agency was an achievement that Shana Ali could not be more proud of. The 29-year-old grew up in Suva with her younger sister and resides with her parents in Nausori.

She heads a three-member team. One deals with customer service, another with containers and a third looks after sales.

“I was taught from a very early age to be independent because my parents were both careerminded people and so basically it was just me and my sister,” Shana explained.

“We had a nanny when we were in primary school, but when we reached high school, we were mostly on our own.

“Mum worked in retail and my dad worked for Tiko’s Seafood Restaurant and Bar for about 20 years before he ventured into doing his own construction business.

“My mum has always wanted her girls out there doing their own thing and basically not relying on anybody.

“My parents taught me to be obedient and know that respect was the most important thing.” Shana said over a period of time she had more responsibilities towards her parents when her sister moved abroad.

“My parents are understanding and supportive towards my career, but they also wanted me to settle down and have a family of my own.

“For me, things happen to people for a reason and when they are ready. I’m not ready for marriage because I’m committed to my career.”

Shana said she was undecided when she pursued a diploma in education at the University of the South Pacific.

“I was still undecided on which career path to take so I simply followed my friends into doing this course.

“In 2015 I started with the Fiji National University and completed my bachelors in human resources and business management and while studying I started work.

“After that I moved on to advertising, a career that was short-lived. I spent eight to nine months, it was a fun industry to work in, but very challenging.”

Shana said working hours were very demanding so she decided to resign and return to complete her studies full-time.

“At the beginning of 2018, I felt I could manage school and work again so I sent out a couple of expression of interest letters to companies and Williams and Goslings Pte Ltd (WNG) responded.

“Work came naturally for me and after a couple of weeks I felt this was the place for me. I was there since 2018 and just this year I joined Oceania Agencies Pte Ltd.

“From a commercial point of view, this is one industry that is never going to die. I’ve seen what happened during the pandemic, when a lot of people lost their jobs in other sectors, but shipping continued to operate and make money.

“I’ve got a hang of the work I do. Fiji is a small island state that relies on other developed countries for imports to better our standard of living. This is where the shipping industry plays a very crucial role in growing the economy.”

She says Oceania Agencies are agents for shipping giants Matson that provides ocean transportation to Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Micronesia, the South Pacific, Japan and China.

“So being responsible to lead a team, as a woman in this field, is an amazing opportunity. When not at work, Shana enjoys spending time with her three dogs and a cat.

“I just love spending time with them and every weekend when I go out, I have to buy either a new toy or collar.

“I get up really early on the weekends and go to the market, do my shopping, have breakfast and if I’m not too tired I might come out for lunch with my mum.

“In the afternoons I feed the babies, prepare dinner, watch television and enjoy some wine on a Saturday.”

Shana says work can be hectic that’s why getting the proper relaxation for the body and mind is important. Shana says there weren’t many women in leadership roles at her former work place.

“When I joined Oceania Agencies I was proud of the fact I was the second female to join the table of discussion during the monthly shipowners meeting.”

“You will always have a certain expectation and if you let others do it for you and you won’t get that satisfaction.

“I know I might be missing out on certain things in life, a part of me feels it, but I’m more proud of what I have in life.”

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