The tougher the challenge, the bigger the lesson

Renata Moruzzi definitely learned a lot when she embarked on one of the hardest assignments of her career: to set up an office in Angola and get it ready for operations within a year’s time.

Renata Moruzzi: Svitzer Angola

Renata Moruzzi

  • Age: 30 years 
  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Education: Public Administration and Shipping Management
  • First job: MISE trainee from Brazil
  • Family: Parents and 2 brothers in Sao Paulo and living with Dutch partner
  • Languages: Portuguese, Spanish, English and now learning Dutch
  • Interests: Animals, sports, travel, languages and cultures

The task itself was nothing new to the then 26-year-old Moruzzi who had already successfully opened up offices  for Svitzer in Peru and  Panama. 

However, decades of civil war hindered the progress of Soyo, the remote community which was to be Svitzer’s new home in Angola. 

Angolanisation: The hunt for local employees

Out of this community, one of Moruzzi’s tasks was to find over a hundred trainees from Soyo who could be trained to man Svitzer’s 13 new vessels.
Referred to as “Angolanisation,” Moruzzi describes the clause with state-owned liquefied natural gas plant, Angola LNG: 

“Our contract was very, very ambitious with the intention of building up local, Angolan people. In the beginning, 20 percent of our workforce needed to be Angolan, but ultimately the aim is that 90 percent will be local hires.”

One hundred and twenty Angolans underwent a four-year internationally recognised certification course. 

“It was intensive training, partially done in Soyo, partially in Luanda. They were given technical information on the vessels, firefighting and safety training, were flown to Portugal and from there sailed to Madeira, Cabo Verde before returning to Lisbon over a period of three months. It wasn’t easy. In the end, we graduated 71 trainees,” says Moruzzi.

Life from Brazil to Angola

With few options in terms of entertainment and much needing to be done in the office, Moruzzi often found herself spending seven days in the office: 
“It was fun though so I didn’t feel like I was working all the time.” 

Despite the fact that Moruzzi came from Brazil where, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, an estimated 35 percent live on less than US 2 dollars a day, Moruzzi was affected by the lack of basic services in Soyo. 

“It doesn’t matter if you have money or not. Even if you have the money, you’re still experiencing a lack of water, electricity and food. It’s not a good situation to be in, but it’s good to give value to things that you didn’t think about before.”

She adds, “You think you see and know a lot, but when you see more of the world like I did in Soyo, you learn and these experiences will add value throughout the rest of my professional life.”

Moruzzi spent three years in Angola and together with a fellow colleague, they were first on the spot from Svitzer. When she left in 2013, there were around 180 employees, 45 percent of whom were from the local community. In April 2014, Svitzer received the “Investment in People” Award from Seatrade in London because of the marine training initiative of Angolans in Soyo. 

Today, she still works with Svitzer, but based in the Netherlands working on strategy, and mergers and acquisitions.