Spending more than 200 days at sea gave Michael Richter, Senior Cadet at Maersk, the chance to live his dream.
At first, Michael saw himself on a different path from what he really wanted to do. He was studying economics as a university student in Odense, Denmark but then felt a strong desire to explore the world. Fond of sailing and travelling, he went on to pursue a career where he can do both and learn to be a leader as well.
The opportunity came when he participated in the offshore career programme at A.P. Moller – Maersk. The programme provides the necessary technical and leadership training for aspiring seafarers which is right up Michael’s alley.
How did you end up as a cadet with Maersk?
It all started with my interest to sail and travel. Back when I was a student, it didn’t really look like I was going to follow my dreams but things changed. I eventually sought out where I can get the best education in navigation and when I was with the military, I found out that I like to lead. All of these combined brought me to Maersk.
The combination of being a leader and learning about navigation simply fascinates me. One of the biggest challenges in this field though is getting various cultures to work together and produce the best results. I always aim for the best result and I am not satisfied until I’ve tried everything. But in some cases, we also must look at alternatives and proceed with the solution most appropriate to a given situation. Opportunities at sea differ from those on land so it could really be a case-to-case basis.
Can you describe a day at work?
I normally start at six in the morning to meet with the Chief Officer at the bridge and talk about the tasks for the day. Then, I continue work on the bridge with the 3rd Officer. After lunch, I would normally do deck work, also with the 3rd officer, for about one to two hours. Otherwise, I will do specific jobs instructed by the Chief officer. If I finish early, I can still squeeze in a workout before dinner or I can just choose to enjoy the rest of the day off.
The combination of being a leader and learning about navigation simply fascinates me. One of the biggest challenges in this field though is getting various cultures to work together and produce the best results.
What is the most exciting thing about your job or being out in the ocean?
I really like sailing and to be out at sea. I especially like the challenge of safely navigating a massive vessel through winding paths and passageways. The other thing that excites me is getting a front row view of beautiful sunsets and the vastness of the ocean greeting you and making you feel that you are very small.
How would you describe the work culture at sea?
At sea we can’t go to bed until the job is done. We fix problems right away since we can’t afford to be distracted by these while we are onboard.
The engineers have a big responsibility in that regard. They should always ensure that the engine is in the best condition. I have all the respect for them and their work.
Of course, communication is always key. All of us will fail if we don’t communicate.
You said you spent 208 days at sea. How do you feel about being away from home?
Time seems to pass by very quickly since there is a lot of work but you can’t help but miss home. You can say nowadays that it’s easier to stay in touch because of technology but it still doesn’t feel the same. It’s hard seeing your friends having a great time back home, but you will learn much about yourself while onboard. I just think that my fellow crew members are going through the same situation and I have them to talk to.
Can you share a memorable story or event onboard?It was during my first cadetship aboard ARNOLD MAERSK. We were sailing away from Newark, USA in the middle of the night and the view of the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty was simply breathtaking. That is one night I surely won’t forget.
What would you tell others who are aspiring to join the offshore career programme?Joining the program is an experience unlike any other. It is a combination of the opportunity to travel the world and getting to work with very good people. It is also where you can grow as a person, take on bigger responsibilities, learn about different cultures, and ultimately do something worthwhile.
Michael always had the passion to see the world and become a great leader. He got the best of both at Maersk.