Meet the Chamber: Kathryn Neilson
I began my career as a teacher and spent much of the early part of my career working within the training and development sector. When the opportunity arose in 2011 to branch off into Maritime Training, I jumped at the chance.
What were you doing before/When did you start working in MNTB?
For seven years, I worked for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line as their Safety and Compliance Officer responsible for the UK fleet’s Certification Safety and Compliance, working closely with new build teams in the shipyards in Papenburg and St Nazaire. I was also responsible for overseeing their UK and International Cadet Training Programmes. I took over the responsibilities of MNTB Director in August 2017.
As the Director of the Merchant Navy Training Board, I am responsible for the overall operation of the MNTB, overseeing and facilitating its technical work, new entrant training programmes, careers promotion strategy, the new Recognition Services and managing the charitable work of the Maritime Educational Foundation.
What your role is at the Chamber and biggest success at the Chamber?
One of the biggest challenges in our industry is ensuring our seafarers in the UK have the necessary skills to compete in a very competitive global market. Preparing them for a career in Maritime is a huge part of the work we do here at the MNTB and even though we are a very small team of 4, our Board members play a huge part in the project work we do, from the development of our new electronic Training Record Book, the designing of our Short Course Criteria booklets, the development of specific programmes to enhance the training experience for all cadets and the constant review and updating of seafarer training standards. With the support of our stakeholders, we are able to make an impact on the way we deliver and teach our seafarers to ensure they are equipped with the skills for a future in Maritime.
Last book you read?
As my journey to work by train is long…….I like to read and the book app on my phone allows me to pick up a book anywhere. The last book I read was Chariots of the Gods, based on a subject I am fascinated by, intelligent life beyond earth and the beliefs of ancient astronaut theorists. Ancient astronauts refer to the idea that intelligent extra-terrestrial beings visited Earth and made contact with humans in prehistoric times. Believers of these theories believe that this contact influenced the development of modern cultures, technologies, and religions, and even human biology. Fact or fiction? Nonetheless fascinating.
One thing that would surprise you about me..?
One of my passions as a young teenager was acting and what some people don’t know is I appeared in the 1979 production of ITV’s The Gates of Eden with the late Maurice Denham and Richard Gibson (‘allo ‘allo fame!) not a big part, I hasten to add, but enough to allow me to secure my Equity card!!
The person you most admire and why?
When asked to name someone I admire the most, I did struggle to select just one, as there are so many people in history and present day who have made a huge impact on the world as we know it. However, I recently started following an adventurer/soldier on LinkedIn some time ago and found myself reading his book “Running for my life”. If there is ever a time during your day when you think things are tough and you struggle to keep your head above water…… take a leaf out of Jordan Wylie’s book. He is a shining example of how to succeed in the face of adversity and to keep smiling regardless of what life throws at you and boy, life has thrown Jordan some curved balls!! So worth a read.
Favourite piece of maritime history?
My favourite piece of maritime history has to be the Titanic story. I remember as a child putting together a project at school all about the Titanic and the terrible disaster that has had a huge impact the maritime industry. What I didn’t realise until much later in my career as a safety and compliance officer for a major cruise line, that so much of the way we operate our ships today and the implementation of SOLAS (SAFETY OF LIFE AT SEA) is as a direct result of what happened to the Titanic on that fateful day 15th April 1912.