A chance to go higher

Published on 09 February 2018

Yoselin Güil is setting the bar for performance at APM Terminals Quetzal in Guatemala less than a year after climbing into a crane. The new terminal addresses a lack of infrastructure in the central American country, one of the main obstacles to economic development, while also providing skills and jobs to local people.

Yoselin Güil, pictured, is the fastest crane operator at Quetzal. “There are jobs here, but none like this - at an international company offering training to people like me with no job experience.”

Something happens to Yoselin Güil when she climbs into her crane. Forty-three metres above the terminal pavement, the shy, soft-spoken young woman from Quetzal becomes a steely-eyed force of confidence.

It wasn’t much of a surprise to those who hired her. Güil, a 24-year-old mother of two, was the only female among APM Terminals Quetzal’s first wave of 75 applicants, but her bosses say it was her determination that separated her from the others at its new container terminal in the Port of Quetzal on Guatemala’s Pacific coast.

“We were not looking for people with experience, we were looking for people who really wanted this opportunity. We wanted people with the right attitude and a will to learn and to challenge themselves,” says Jose Argueta, Head of HR at APM Terminals Quetzal. “In the testing and the interviews, we could see Yoselin had exactly what we were looking for.”

Skills and jobs

Guatemala is Central America’s largest economy and one of its best performers in recent years, but its high rates of inequality and poverty also stand out. The new terminal addresses one of Guatemala’s main obstacles to economic development - a lack of infrastructure - while also providing skills and jobs for locals. Yaselin is one of 140 employees at the terminal, a number APM Terminals expects to rise to 300 by 2019.

Growing up in the area surrounding the port, Güil was a “typical little girl”, she says. She didn’t play with trucks or other machines. Nor did she acquire any experience that one might expect from someone who now operates a ship-to-shore gantry crane, one of those four-legged giants that do the heavy lifting in modern container ports.

Since the birth of the oldest of her two children, she had been a full-time mother and wife, while her husband earned the family’s income. But the new terminal offered an opportunity she felt she couldn’t let pass by.

“Quetzal is our home. There are jobs here, but none like this - at an international company, offering training to people like me with no job experience,” she says. Her husband encouraged her to apply. Her father and sister, who live in the same house, said the same and assured her they could help take care of the children.

As it turns out, she didn’t know she would get a job as an operator of one of the terminal’s two ship-to-shore (STS) cranes. “I applied for every available position,” she laughs.

In the family

The APM Terminals Quetzal facility is the first deep water container shipping port in Guatemala. With scheduled berthing windows for vessels, a deeper draft and two (soon to be three) ship-to-shore cranes, it is an important upgrade for the country’s port infrastructure that will improve the business of trade for the country and the region.

I want my kids to look at me and see that they, too, can achieve what they want in life, if they act.

Yoselin Güil

Güil has operated more than 100 vessels since her start in March 2017 and the physical and mental requirements of a job she first learned in a crane simulator are starting to become second nature.

“She is the fastest crane operator we have,” says Julian Llanos, Head of Operations for APM Terminals Quetzal. “I’m not surprised. She is determined, we could see that in her training. She wasn’t going to give up just because it gets a little difficult. Yoselin is a very strong person.”

On 1 October, Güil’s family came with her to the terminal. It was Children’s Day in Guatemala, a day celebrated in many Central and South American countries to promote the well-being and rights of children. She had been a crane operator for six months and now her family could see what she did up close. Afterwards, her son told her that he wanted to be a crane driver too. If he’s lucky, she will be his teacher—she hopes to one day be a crane supervisor and help others learn to do what she does.

“I sometimes can’t believe I’m here, that I have this job and I’m driving these cranes,” she says. “I’m proud because I went for it, that my kids have been to the terminal and have seen what I do. I want them to look at me and see that they, too, can achieve what they want in life, if they act.”

Category: News articles Keywords: Americas