To mark International Women’s Day 2021, a celebration of the social, cultural and political achievements of women across the world, we wanted to put the spotlight on one of our own inspiring women.

Ethel Docherty, Human Resources Manager at the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, has been with the Company for an impressive total of 22 years. Initially for five years and then returning for the past 17 years, Ethel has worked her way up and equipped herself with the knowledge and know-how to hold her current position in human resources management. Let’s find out a bit more about her and her background in the shipping industry.

Can you tell us about your background with the Steam Packet Company and how your career has evolved?

I have always loved working with people and before starting as a Passenger Services Assistant with the Steam Packet Company in 1992, I was a registered nurse. However, I wanted a career change and the maritime industry had always seemed exciting to me. After a couple of years I was promoted to Passenger Services Officer, but I then left in 1997 to further my career in the industry.

Firstly, I worked at Bibby Line as a Recruitment Officer and then Personnel Officer. Following that, I completed a degree in Ship Management before going on to work at Maersk Isle of Man, initially as a Personnel Officer and then a Senior Personnel Officer. Unfortunately, the personnel aspect within Maersk relocated to London in 2004, but I was extremely fortunate as Hamish Ross, the then Managing Director of the Steam Packet Company, contacted me to say that a position was available if I was interested. This was the perfect opportunity and in 2004 I returned to the Company as Personnel Officer.

I was later promoted to Payroll Manager and then, in 2012, I took on my current role as Human Resources Manager.

What do you love about your role?

I love the challenges and the variety of the work – no day is ever the same. It can be very hard work, but it is a great Company to work for and a fantastic industry to work in. I also enjoy the people I work with, which always helps. My HR colleagues and the wider Steam Packet Company team is absolutely fantastic.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company staff. Ethel Docherty (middle) with colleagues Vicki Winn (left) and Amanda Humphrey (right) in Christmas Jumpers with tinsel and Rudolph and bright colours on the jumpers.
Ethel (middle) with colleagues Vicki Winn and Amanda Humphrey on Christmas Jumper Day 2015

How has the Steam Packet Company helped you progress in your career?

I will always be grateful to Hamish Ross for giving me a second opportunity to work with the Steam Packet Company and to continue to develop my career in an industry I love. The Company has always been supportive of my personal and professional development and provided me with opportunities to progress. In 2015, it funded my Master’s degree with the University of Chester. 

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

I think getting to where I am at present. It’s been an uphill struggle at times and taken a lot of commitment and dedication to reach where I am today, but I am proud of myself for pursuing a career I am passionate about and getting to where I want to be.

Historically, the shipping industry has been very male-dominated. Have you seen progress in terms of women working in the industry during your time?  

Things are definitely changing and the outlook of the industry in 2021 is much more diverse, inclusive and gender-balanced compared to when I first started my career 29 years ago. The number of women who now belong to the maritime industry is growing, which is fantastic to see and something that we as a Company support 100%. Over the next few years, we would like to see even more positive change across the maritime sector and will be doing what we can to support this.

#WomeninMaritime  #MaritimeChoosetoChallenge