Reflecting its dramatic growth and participation as an organization, the United States fielded the largest visiting national delegation attending last week’s Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) Annual Conference. The US delegation was second only to the host country, the United Kingdom. The Conference was held at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, with a theme of “Direction: Diversity…Route: Corporate Social Responsibility.” The Conference was attended by nearly 300 WISTA members from around the globe, in addition to close to 50 industry and government representatives.
Observed WISTA USA President and Blank Rome LLP Partner, Jeanne Grasso: “This year’s WISTA Annual Conference distinguished itself in its high level content, the involvement of leaders from all sectors of the industry, and it’s incredible venue – IMO. I am pleased that our largest delegation ever was able to participate in this robust industry program.”
This year’s Conference marked the 35th anniversary of the founding of WISTA. From humble beginnings in rooms above a pub in London, WISTA has grown to over 1200 members in 26 countries and is now called a mainstream industry body.
Highlights from the Conference included active participation by the IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos, who welcomed the delegate body to the IMO, and officially opened the Conference with his impressive observations about diversity and Corporate Social Responsibility. Other topics included panels on the environment, a comprehensive overview of piracy, industry safety, and regulatory developments on the horizon.
The United States also provided high level speakers. Carnival Cruise Lines’ Environment Director, Elaine Heldewier, was a featured speaker on the topic of the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard. Former Founder and President of Chembulk Tankers, Bob Burke, contributed to the piracy panel, as did Captain Fred Kenney, Chief of the US Coast Guard’s Office of Maritime and International Law.
The US delegation was also present to witness its candidate, Pam Conover, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Yachts of Seabourn, the luxury brand of Carnival Corporation, be awarded the honor of WISTA’s Personality of the Year. The special WISTA accolade recognizes an outstanding personal contribution to the maritime industry.
The Annual Conference also featured a reception at the House of Lords, hosted by the Bahamas Maritime Authority, and visits to the Baltic Exchange and the Greenwich Maritime Museum.
WISTA USA has six chapters around the United States with 223 members from 22 states. WISTA is an international organization for women in management positions involved in the maritime transportation business and related trades worldwide.