Cairns resident Dani McGlashen is making her mark in the maritime industry and she’s passionate about encouraging more women to join the community.
Born to navy parents and growing up by the ocean, 29-year-old Dani has the sand and sea in her DNA.
“Ever since I was young I have always felt really good and comfortable being on or near the ocean, and I decided early on that I wanted a career in the maritime industry,” said Dani.
“I spent several years working as a dive instructor in Thailand and on the Great Barrier Reef which was so fulfilling and a dream of mine since I was a little girl.
“I reached a point where I started wondering what I was going to do with my career long term, and I decided that the boat handling and driving side of things seemed like a natural progression for me,” she said.
Natural for Dani but traditionally uncommon, women represent just 4.2 per cent of the marine transport industry’s national workforce.
In order to take the next step in her career, Dani enrolled at TAFE Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef International Marine College (GBRIMC).
“I was blown away by the college, it is an amazing facility and it has the latest training gear and equipment,” Dani said.
Throughout her studies Dani learnt how to forecast the weather and predict ocean conditions, operate propulsion systems, radar and other electronic navigation equipment, manage a small crew, and act as a chief mate on a vessel up to 80 metres long.
“It was great to practice my boat driving skills in the full mission bridge simulator, as it’s a safe environment to troubleshoot problems which could happen in the real-world,” Dani said.
“I had a lot of fun studying and my teachers have all been very knowledgeable and approachable,” she said.
Since enrolling, Dani has completed a Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Master up to 24 metres Near Coastal) (MAR30918) and a Certificate IV in Maritime Operations (Master up to 35 metres Near Coastal) (MAR40618).
With two boat driving qualifications under her belt, Dani has reached a major professional milestone – becoming Sunlover Reef Cruises’ first ever female captain.
Dressed in her captain’s whites and epaulettes, Dani’s day-to-day now involves operating one of the largest tour boats visiting the Great Barrier Reef.
“Five years ago I couldn’t picture myself here so I am really happy and grateful for the opportunities that have come my way and for the support I’ve received from Sunlover,” Dani said.
Sunlover Reef Cruises Group General Manager Sharon Sheldrake said the whole of the Sunlover team were thrilled by Dani’s achievement.
“Recognising the aspirations of our team and assisting them to develop professionally is of vital importance to us,” Sharon said.
“Dani has worked incredibly hard to progress to a Captain’s qualification and we are delighted to be able to assist turning her goals into a reality and setting an example to encourage more women to enter the industry.
“Dani has long held the respect of her peers and her seniors, with her innate strength, professional acumen and leadership skills making her a natural choice to progress to a position that holds such responsibility,” she said.
Great Barrier Reef International Marine College Business Manager Angela Lauder said TAFE Queensland is committed to supporting the International Maritime Organization’s 2019 mission to empower women in the industry.
“The Great Barrier Reef International Marine College is very proud of Dani and her achievements; it’s really nice for our teachers and staff to watch our students develop new skills and to help them progress their careers,” Angela said.
“It’s also great that Sunlover has supported Dani’s training aspirations, and the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College is keen to help any organisation future proof their business and invest in their staff,” she said.
Dani’s advice for other people interested in pursuing a maritime career is simple.
“There are so many people in the industry willing to offer their time and advice, so if you want to work in the maritime industry don’t be afraid to ask questions, get some work experience and enrol in training,” Dani said.
“If I can do it anyone can, you’ve just got to give it a go,” she said.
There’s never been a better time to consider a career at the helm as qualified marine transport professionals are in demand with 2,000 Australian positions predicted to come online by 2023.