Shipping has always featured in Julija Voitiekute’s life in one way or another, even before birth. Her mother spent six months sailing around the world while pregnant with Julija, her father was an able sailor and her childhood was spent living among a seafaring community, she says. In some ways it seems almost inevitable that she would end up working for shipping behemoth, Maersk.
“I grew up in a shipping town in Lithuania surrounded by a family that loved the sea. Shipping is in my blood in a sense, and anything related to the ocean has a sort of ‘X factor’ that appeals to me. When I graduated from CEMS, I was looking for something that I felt passionate about – something that made me tick – and Maersk had that special appeal. Here was a company leading an industry that was part of my DNA and that simultaneously offered what I was looking for in terms of challenge, complexity, learning and constant evolution. It felt like the perfect match.”
Julija’s perfect match with Maersk has seen her take on a slew of different roles in her 14 years with the company. Recently she worked within innovation, looking at the next big tendencies or trends shaping the industry. This led to a focus on decarbonisation and Julija’s current role sees her working within a team that is leading efforts to align Maersk’s operational capabilities around sustainable goals.
“One of the things I’ve found and that I so appreciate about working for Maersk is that we as employees have the freedom and the autonomy to play a proactive role in shaping our own careers. In my 14 years with the firm, I’ve been able to change jobs every two or three years by spotting a niche or a need, and then making a strong case for a new role in this area. Maersk is the kind of organisation that welcomes proactive mindsets and I have found tremendous support in my journey as I looked for opportunities along the way. The external view of the company – “black and white” perceptions around its corporate culture and structure from the outside – do not fully tally with the internal experience of working at Maersk", says Julija.
She started out within the company’s graduate training programme in 2016, expecting to encounter a “certain type of person.” In reality, what she encountered was an enormous breadth of diversity: people from every walk of life, every background, expertise and experience. Working within Maersk, she says, is like working within a micro-version of society itself. Her colleagues are “fantastic people” from whom there are endless opportunities to learn, while the cultural context is built on values and a robust heritage that has upheld the company for decades.
“Maersk is such a big and long-established company that it really does offer you a huge breadth of people to work with, and diverse groups and organisations within the firm itself –so much so that you can find pretty much anything that you like. If one group or manager doesn’t suit you, you can shift to something entirely different.”
In her own experience, Julija has found consistent support and openness with her own managers – a rapport and a sense of “partnership,” she says, that has made it entirely possible to forge ahead with new ideas and create her own spaces in terms of role and focus. And given the variety of roles she’s held and the evolving nature of her career within Maersk, it is perhaps understandable that there is no such thing as a “typical working day.”
“I’m drawn to change and working at Maersk has enabled me to really fulfil my interest in finding new solutions and ways of doing things, while creating my own jobs and being in the driving seat professionally. Development and innovation happen fast, and I’ve got the flexibility here to pivot and to go where the ideas lead me. If there is one common factor across everything that I do and have done here, though, I’d say it’s about engaging, aligning and managing diverse teams and networks around new ideas, new questions and new priorities. So, there are lots of meetings every day!”
Managing diversity, responding to change and bringing agility to what she does are capabilities that Julija believes she developed as a CEMS student; these and an understanding of the critical importance of having a network.
“In some respects, it’s the informal network that you build that matters most. In my career, I’ve found that having the support of peers and trusted sparring partners is really key to your success and your resilience. So much hinges on having genuine relationships with other people, and that’s something that you learn and experience as a CEMS student – and in my case, working at Maersk.”
Julija would not hesitate to recommend Maersk to CEMSies entering the workforce. Not only does the company offer talented people the chance to grow and evolve, and to find “anything you like,” the work itself is hugely interesting, she says.
“Digitisation is transforming our industry and our business. Every day there is something to solve or fix and the problem-solving skills, the resilience that you build on the job are skills that serve you in every other area of your life – all of which is just so important in times of uncertainty.”
The job market for talented young people is robust right now, she adds. And to make the most of the opportunities out there, she has a word of advice: Before you think about what you can get from an organisation, think about what you can bring.
“There’s a natural tendency when you start out to try to fit in as much as possible. But I think you’re better off focusing on your own uniqueness and what you alone can contribute and give to your company. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more rewarding than making a difference, and the most fun you’ll have in your work is when you know that your contribution is truly valued – so look for those opportunities where you can learn and contribute to that which gives you purpose and meaning.”
Working at Maersk, playing a role – of her own making – in the company’s decarbonisation efforts is, Julija says, a dream come true. It’s truly rewarding and an experience that makes her “happy and fulfilled” and working for Maersk, a leading voice in this area, makes it the “ cherry on top”.
“When I look back to my closeness to this seafaring community and my work at Maersk, it is simply mind blowing that I am part of a group focused on making our community better and our planet more sustainable.”