Thursday, 30 June 2022

Maritime instructor at crest of wave

Newly appointed membership director of the International Association for Safety and Survival Training, Samantha Montes. Newly appointed membership director of the International Association for Safety and Survival Training, Samantha Montes.

Senior maritime instructor and manager at Survival Centre, Samantha Montes, is grateful to be appointed Membership Director of the International Association for Safety and Survival Training (IASST).

“[I am] extremely honoured, for South Africa, the African continent [and this will] help other countries to realise South Africa have something unique to offer in our maritime sector,” says Montes. Besides being a membership director, her mandate includes, but not limited to, the following:

  • Promote the Association internationally
  • Chairperson of the IASST discussion group
  • Participate in or chairs other sub committees
  • Disseminate and collate election ballots for the position of directors.

“As Dissemination was our portfolio for the Erasmus Plus EURO-ZA capacity building in the field of maritime education, I feel this has given me the tools to achieve this mandate.”

Reflecting on her career journey, the Eastern Cape-born “quirky” maritime instructor says it all started when she was on a school trip to Cape Town while in Standard 7 (Grade 9). She visited the Zonnebloem Campus of the then Cape Technikon.

“I saw one line in the course prospectus that said, ‘Maritime Studies’ and [I]decided this was my career choice.”

After completing her schooling in King Williams Town, Montes relocated to Cape Town to study Maritime Studies at the Cape Technikon, now known as CPUT’s Granger Bay campus.

She joined her first vessel as a navigation cadet in January 2000. Her long sea career has seen her work on a variety of ship types and within many maritime sectors.

In 2015, Montes received a call from her alma mater, CPUT, and was offered a post ashore. Since August 2015 she has been a Senior Maritime Instructor: Survival Centre.An opportunity to go back to sea for a short stint presented itself, in 2019 when Montes was asked to sail as a training officer aboard the SA Agulhas for a historic voyage of venturing to Antarctica with 20 female cadet officers for three months.

Reflecting on her glittering career, Montes said she had to show up and be present. “Opportunities are not going to seek you out. But if you’re in the room, people take notice of you. Perseverance and resilience. Change the narrative by being involved.”

She also attributed her success to her “never give up” attitude. Some of the highlights in her career include visits to all seven continents. “To be exposed to so many different cultures and work with many different nationalities. The challenges often are not unique to maritime, but how you address those challenges sets you apart and leads to success.” Her message to the younger generation is: “Don’t be scared to ask questions. Throughout my career I asked questions. I would rather be seen as foolish for asking simple questions to be sure not to mess up and look incompetent. Although, now I seem to be the one who answers the questions.” She loves her job and the unique challenges it brings her every day. “I am a problem-solver, so this industry provides me ample opportunity to practise this skill.”

When she is not at work, Montes spends time with her two ginger cats that require a lot of attention. “Cats are the masters of relaxing, so I learn from them. I read and enjoy chatting with friends all over the globe.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce