HMM appoints South Korea’s first female chief engineer

Go Hae-yern. Credit: HMM

HMM, South Korea’s main container liner operator, has appointed the country’s first woman chief engineer.

Go Hae-yern worked her way up after 11 years with the company and on 12 December 2019, HMM announced that she will be the chief engineer for Hyundai Colombo, a 6,800 TEU container ship that serves the company’s China-India Express service.

Chief engineers are in charge of the engine room on ships and assist the captains in navigating safely.

Go, 34, joined HMM as a third engineer in February 2008 after graduating from Korea Maritime and Ocean University, where she studied engine systems.

In 2009, Go was promoted to second engineer and became first engineer in 2011.

During her early years with HMM, Go was assigned to 4,600 TEU ships. A 13,100 TEU ship is the largest vessel that she has ever served.

On her appointment, Go said, “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all my seniors and juniors who believed in me and encouraged me to reach this position. I will work hard and do my best for the growth of HMM and South Korean shipping.”

HMM has eight female maritime officers and the company plans to appoint a female captain on one of its ships before 2019 draws to a close.

A HMM representative told SAS that the promotion of women to leadership roles on its ships did not signify any change in its human resources policy.

“They [the women] have been well dedicated to the company for a long time with good performance,” said the representative.

“We can say that their promotion is what they deserve in terms of our personnel procedures.”

Go’s appointment is considered a breakthrough in South Korea’s male-dominated society and comes just five months after Joanna Kwok Wing-yan became Hong King’s first woman chief engineer. 

Overall, shipping remains a male-dominated industry, although the manpower shortage has seen more women coming through the ranks.

In July, Kwok, 32, who is employed by Hong Kong-based Anglo-Eastern Group, was made a chief engineer. Similar to Go, Kwok, who has a mechanical engineering diploma from the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, joined Anglo-Eastern Group after completing her education.