Who's navigating? Training the next generation

01 Jun 2017 The Navigator

Third officer John Malagad has appreciated the support of mentors and senior people in the shipping industry as his career has progressed and is keen to give back. Here, he talks about the importance of mentoring and the many rewards of a life at sea.

What interested you in a career at sea?
When I watched the movies Titanic and Pirates of the Caribbean I became fascinated by them and asked myself, “What if I could become a Captain?” I enrolled in one of the most prestigious maritime universities in the Philippines to begin my journey. I had to calculate positions using the stars, decode weather forecasts, learn about ship handling and manoeuvring and lots of other skills. I remained determined to go to sea and was encouraged by senior people in the industry talking about good wages, opportunities for responsibility and travel and job security at a young age.

What are the greatest rewards from your life at sea?
Rewards come after hard work and successful jobs. For me, I appreciate being able to travel and visit beautiful landmarks around the world. I have met a diverse group of people and nationalities on board ship, which has allowed me to learn about different cultures and personalities. The only thing I find hard is being away from my family for a long time.

How do you feel when you are in charge of a navigation watch?
The officer in charge of the navigational watch plays a big role in the bridge team. Nervousness, tension, stress and hesitation should be set aside for the safety of the crew and the environment. When I am in charge I feel confident due to my training and knowing that I am competent to navigate the ship in whatever situation she may face.

Tell us about a time when mentoring has helped you in your career?
During my first vessel assignment as a deck cadet I felt confused, anxious and homesick. Luckily, I was well supported by the Prospective Officer Training Program at Marlow Navigation, where I received my training. All the while I was at sea they stayed in contact and helped keep me motivated. I now act as a career development officer with Marlow Navigation and provide similar assistance and mentoring to new prospective officers. I am happy to be helping people as I was helped myself.

Have you had experience of mentoring other people during your career?
Before my current role as a career development officer, I acted as a peer facilitator and president of my intake when I was at university. It greatly helped me develop my interactive and communication skills with other people, understanding them, mentoring them and helping them find solutions for their problems.

What do you think are the greatest challenges for future navigators?
There are always challenges in life and the shipping industry is no exception. One challenge for us seafarers is innovation and technology. Technology advances very quickly and seafarers need to adapt and familiarise themselves with the new equipment on board ships. Another challenge is finding employment; the number of seafarers is growing rapidly each year and competition is high. If you keep your motivation high and your performance strong, however, you will have nothing to worry about.

Name: John Malagad
Current position: Third officer
Training: John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University, Philippines