My name is Blandine, based in Douala, Cameroon. My journey with Maersk started over two decades ago as a fresh-faced trainee, eager to make my mark in the world of shipping, to most recently the Head of Small Beneficial Cargo Owner in the West Africa Area, embracing yet another exciting new challenge.
Blandine with colleagues on Africa Day Celebration. From left: Aurore, Sandrine, Armand, Samira, Stephanie, Michel, Rolande, Anne Laure, Claudia, Sorelle, Danielle, Helene, Abdoulaye, Blandine, Isabelle.

Early career beginnings

My first job was handling customs documents at the Douala office/port, a vital task for the delivery of original bills of lading. With no prior experience in the shipping industry or familiarity with Maersk’s unique terminology, the challenge was both daunting and thrilling. Yet, this initial role laid the groundwork for my future success, eventually leading to my involvement in managing a coffee campaign.

This campaign saw me overseeing everything from booking creation to container positioning, shipment handling, and ensuring smooth arrivals at destination ports.

Milestones and career progression

A pivotal moment in my career was receiving my final contract just before taking maternity leave—a surprising and significant achievement given the local market conditions. Returning from maternity leave, I transitioned into the customer export department as a counter agent, and from there, my career trajectory took off. I moved through various roles, including supervisor, team lead, commercial planning manager, Ocean Subject Matter Expert, Area Manager for Twill (a Maersk branch), and Head of Direct Transport. Most recently, after a reorganization, I stepped into the role of Head of Small Beneficial Cargo Owner in the West Africa Area as of April 1, 2024. Here I am now, embracing this new challenge.

: Blandine with colleagues at a football match with a partner to strengthen the relationship for a better collaboration.

Overcoming challenges and learning along the way

Throughout my time at Maersk, I’ve faced numerous challenges, from overcoming language barriers—I took English courses to improve my communication skills—to navigating the tumultuous waters of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic brought about restrictions and port congestion that tested vessel reliability and customer experience.

One of my most profound learnings is the importance of staying true to oneself and believing in one’s potential.

When I was appointed Twill Area Manager for Southern-West Africa, the high targets initially made me question my capabilities. However, with positive feedback and regular coaching from my leaders, I built a strong sense of self-belief. By year’s end, I had exceeded targets by 65%, proving to myself and solidifying my personal motto: "I am stronger than my own excuses."

Three of the five core values of Maersk - Constant Care, Uprightness, and Humbleness— align especially closely with my personal values instilled in me by my father. These principles have guided my professional journey, and Maersk’s culture, and commitment to doing the right thing have kept me motivated and proud to be part of this organization for so long.

My growth at Maersk has been fueled by continuous learning opportunities through seminars, travels, and interactions with colleagues and leaders. The support system here, comprised of amazing colleagues who have become friends and family, has been crucial to my development.

For young professionals, understanding the bigger picture of the organization is vital. Seeing how different business drivers interrelate and contribute to overall profitability helps in understanding one’s role better. Embracing change, thinking outside the box, being open, curious, collaborative, and learning from mistakes are essential traits. Patience, resilience, and self-belief are key to unlocking potential and achieving success.

Beyond Maersk

Despite the pressures of my role, I make it a point to enjoy time with colleagues, friends, and family. Additionally, I am proud to serve as a WILA (Women in Logistics Africa) Ambassador, advocating for women's wellbeing in Africa and worldwide. This role involves fighting to reduce diseases that particularly affect women.

Reflecting on my 21-year journey with Maersk, I am immensely grateful for the opportunities, challenges, and learnings that have shaped my career. The core values, continuous learning, and supportive colleagues have been integral to my growth and success. As I look to the future, I am excited to continue contributing to Maersk’s mission and helping customers discover the magic of shipping in the simplest and best way possible. Stay tuned for more updates from my journey!

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