We had the good fortune of connecting with Ally Cedeno and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ally, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have been working on ships since I was a cadet (student) at the US Merchant Marine Academy, often the only woman on board or one of just a few women. In 2015, I was assigned to work on an ultra-deepwater drillship in the Gulf of Mexico as a dynamic positioning operator (DPO). This was the first time where I worked alongside several women on a drillship. I became especially close with the female third officer and third engineer, and we opened up to each other about some of our experiences working offshore. Seeing how similar our challenges and successes had been, I felt very bonded to them, and looking back, we mentored each other, probably without realizing it. I found the environment overall to be inclusive, and I thrived. After two years of working on board, I was promoted as a Senior DPO and then given the opportunity to work on a brand new drillship in South Korea.

In South Korea, I missed that camaraderie and remained close with my previous crew. I thought that the environment on my previous vessel was how the industry should be, and that maybe I could recreate that environment online. Each day after a 12-hour shift in the shipyard, I could not wait to get back to my apartment to work on the website I was building, WomenOffshore.org, to be a resource center for women who work on the water. I would stay up until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I felt an internal shift when I put together a business plan. I became so proud of the women I was profiling to be role models, my own career, and the opportunities to work on the water. WomenOffshore.org went live on July 25th, 2017. I was in South Korea and it was very late at night, so with the website public, I thanked the team of women and men that had helped me.

Since then, Women Offshore has grown into the Women Offshore Foundation, propelling women+ into meaningful careers through access to a worldwide community and professional development resources, while raising awareness amongst industry leaders and decision makers about issues affecting women on the water. As a community centered on the lived experiences of women+ working on the water, we are deeply committed to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion – both within our own community as well as within the broader industry. Our mission includes eliminating gender-based discrimination through an intersectional approach, and our membership includes women and members of marginalized gender identities and expressions.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
One of the channels of our organization is our podcast. I host it weekly, interviewing our professionals in the industry and sharing stories of working on the water and topics that affect seafarers. From episodes about career advancement and job seeking to sea stories about what it is like to sail as a captain or be a mom with a job offshore, the Women Offshore podcast inspires listeners to accomplish their career dreams on the water.

Due to limited connectivity, seafarers are isolated from information and support at sea. Podcast episodes can be downloaded over a slow internet connection or while in port, bridging seafarers with the outside world. In each episode, we connect them with resources and industry role models to propel their careers.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to give a shoutout to all of the mentors in our community. We have a mentoring program of over 200 participants. Our mentors play a huge role in the success of this program, opening doors for their mentees while they guide them in a very male-dominated industry.

Website: womenoffshore.org

Instagram: instagram.com/womenoffshore

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/womenoffshore/

Twitter: twitter.com/women_offshore

Facebook: facebook.com/womenoffshore

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.