Christel Pullens: Once you get in, you never want to get out

The Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nederland was established in 2000 and comprises members who work at management level in the Dutch maritime industry. Its aim is to inspire, energise, motivate and educate women in the maritime industry, to increase their competence and empower them in their careers.

ECWO posed questions to WISTA’s board members to find out more about working in the maritime industry and why it is an underrated, yet highly attractive, career option for young women. We also asked the board members to share their role models.



Christel Pullens has worked in various roles in the maritime industry since 1997. She is Global Sales & Marketing Director and member of the board at Alewijnse.

If you met a young woman in an elevator and had 10 floors to inspire her to join the maritime industry, what would you say?

I would say that an adventurous spirit like hers would fit perfectly in the international maritime industry. She will be challenged, as the industry is not a 9 to 5 and is a male dominated one, but her days will never be the same. There is something new to discover around every corner. She will learn English words that only others in the industry are familiar with. And meet people who have been to the strangest places on earth who tell stories that light up every party, dinner table or fireplace conversation. More importantly, she will make and share her own stories. She can contribute to a sustainable future and help the industry to accomplish its ambitious climate goals. And I will warn her that it is a life-changing career change: once you get in, you never want to get out. 

Who is your role-model?

My female role model is Karin Orsel, CEO of MF Shipping Group. She really has put women in the maritime industry and WISTA on the map, both in The Netherlands and internationally.

More information

The Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisations (ECWO) is committed to women’s continued advancement into leadership positions across multiple sectors – from multinationals and start-ups to not-for-profit organisations. ECWO supports gender-balanced leadership through its management educationresearch and events about gender equality, and by coaching female business leaders. Its strong network leads to women empowerment and gender equality to the benefit of business and society.

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EC for women and organisations , ECWO Storytelling