When Claudia Grant began her career at the Port of Kingston in 1986 armed with a first degree and an eagerness to learn, little did she know that this would be her foray into a lifetime of service to the maritime industry. Thirty-four years later, she is second in command at the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ), serving as Deputy Director General of the body since its inception in 2001.
Along the way, she has gained a world of experience covering the regulatory, policy and operational areas of the maritime industry and contributing yeoman service to the sector locally, regionally and internationally.
Mrs. Grant entered the field quite by chance, when a summer job at the Kingston Container Terminal led to an opportunity for permanent employment shortly after she graduated from the University of the West Indies (UWI) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Studies.
She remained there for three and one-half years, leaving in 1990 for the World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmo, Sweden, to read for a Master’s Degree in Port and Shipping Administration.
Mrs. Grant returned to Jamaica after graduating from WMU and continued to work at the port, but she was soon presented with an opportunity that she could not refuse.
“I went to work with the CARICOM [Secretariat in Guyana], so that exposed me to the maritime setting in all the countries in the region because we actually visited them, did gap analyses and baseline assessments to see what were the issues and what could be done,” she tells JIS News.
While at CARICOM, she oversaw the implementation of policies and projects for the sustainable development of maritime transportation in member states.
Mrs. Grant says it was a chance meeting with the then Permanent Secretary at the Transport Ministry at the inaugural Association of Caribbean States (ACS) Conference in 1995, that led to her return to Jamaica three and a half years later.
“At the time, the Ministry was actually doing a transformation project where they were looking for Jamaicans who had the skills to come back and strengthen the public sector,” she says.
“I resigned from CARICOM and came home. My position [at the Ministry] was Director of Marine Transport and it opened up the way for us to get the Shipping Act passed and to establish the Maritime Authority,” she says.
Mrs. Grant successfully managed the project unit, where she was charged with the responsibility for developing systems, procedures and legislation for implementing the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Revised Convention Governing the Training and Certification of Seafarers.
She was also instrumental in the development of policies, systems and procedures for the establishment and operation of the Jamaica Ship Registry.
Soon after, she moved over to the Maritime Authority, which was the forerunner to the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ), which officially began operations in April 2001 under the Shipping Act.
She served the interim body as Senior Director and was appointed Deputy Director General of the MAJ.
Mrs. Grant’s service to the maritime sector extends to mentoring future generations of female maritime professionals and strengthening the advocacy network among players in the sector, especially women.
She is the founding President of the Women in Maritime Association Caribbean (WIMAC), which brings focus to the work of women in the male-dominated field.
Over the years, Mrs. Grant has received accolades in recognition of her contribution to the development of the local and regional maritime sectors.
In June of last year, she was honoured by the WIMAC and in November, she was pleasantly surprised by her alma mater, the WMU, with an outstanding alumna award.
Mrs. Grant explains that the award is given by the university to graduates who have given exceptional service to the maritime industry.
She says it is an honour to be celebrated for doing something that she loves. A devout Christian, Mrs. Grant says she is grateful to God for giving her the opportunity to serve in the maritime field, and is encouraging persons who are studying to look at the sector as a viable career option.
She notes that there are many facets to the industry. “When I was working with the port I was seeing some of the commercial side. When you go to WMU you are seeing every side – operational, port, shipping, regulatory; it is wide,” she points out.
“You get a chance to do (serve) and you really feel fulfilled in contributing because shipping is so important to countries like Jamaica and the industry is so vast,” she adds
MAJ Director General, Rear Admiral Peter Brady, has high praises for Mrs. Grant, telling JIS News that it is a pleasure working with her.
“Mrs. Grant has provided incredibly strong support and assistance to me personally as the Director General over the years. She has given undivided attention to her responsibilities as Deputy Director General with the MAJ, ensuring that the team is properly equipped with the knowledge and training to undertake their responsibilities with confidence and a sense of purpose,” he says.
He adds that her knowledge, training and background have combined to make her a stellar maritime leader both locally and in the international arena.
He cites among her professional accomplishments, being twice elected chair of the Implementation of IMO Instruments Sub-Committee, for which Jamaica and the Caribbean are equally proud.
Vice President, Membership and Administration and co-founder of WIMAC, Vivette Grant (no relation), whose affiliation with the MAJ’s Deputy Director General goes back 28 years to their studies at WMU, describes Mrs. Grant as a professional par excellence, who is always seeking new and innovative ways to advance her craft.
“I have found her to be a phenomenal woman, whose talents, abilities and energies are directed at mentoring and empowering people,” she tells JIS News.