“We are thrilled to announce Agnes Enesio's appointment as President at Odfjell's Manila office. As Agnes steps into this new role, we recognize and appreciate her outstanding contributions to the company and look forward to witnessing her continued achievements as a pivotal member of our team”
– Svend Foyn-Bruun, VP Maritime Personnel, Odfjell
Agnes has been working with crewing at Odfjell in the Philippines (OPI) since 2008, and as a leader of the crewing department since February 2015. Her responsibilities span from strategic decision-making and crisis management to recruitment and fostering the team culture.
A humble beginning
Born as the fifth child in a family of seven siblings in the then remote Philippine province of San Juan, Batangas, Agnes' upbringing was defined by simplicity and the challenges of rural life. Nestled near the beach, her childhood home offered the soothing sound of waves but also the challenges of not having electricity or roads. During her grade school years, Agnes had to walk more than four kilometers to school, a habit that contributed to her discipline and determination.
"At young age, I tried best to do well in school. After school, I would always study my lessons in the light of a small kerosene lamp or ‘gasera’. I remember joining various academic competitions and was always determined to win. My parents were then so happy when I graduated with the highest honors," she recalls, reflecting on her early academic accomplishments.
In a place where television was not available, it was through reading comics and school books that Agnes learned about the various roles that women might play in society. She set her goals early on:
"I told myself, I will be good leader someday. To be a manager preferably by age 25 was my childhood daydreaming topic. I dreamed about having a decent job and being able to send my children to good schools. So, I kept visualizing what and where I want my future self to be. It may sound weird, but in my head, I was really creating my own success story.”
"Whenever teachers needed someone to take leadership or lead an exercise at school, I was always the first to volunteer," Agnes continues with a chuckle.
Her journey into the corporate world began with a position as a production operator in a semiconductor company, which turned into an unexpected opportunity in the engineering department. "I applied and got the job, even though I did not have any knowledge about data," Agnes smiles. This willingness to take on new challenges was successful, and later took her via the cruise industry before transitioning to a role in crewing.
Setting sail with Odfjell
Agnes's introduction to Odfjell marked a pivotal turning point in her career. Her association with the company began when she joined Magsaysay in 2001, Odfjell’s manning agency at the time. Assigned to handling Odfjell ships, she showcased her dedication and passion for the job, catching the attention of Odfjell's then representative, Captain Kjell Johansen. Impressed by her work, Kjell insisted that Agnes join the Odfjell team when the Manila office was established in 2008.
At Odfjell, Agnes ventured into the realm of Human Resources. When asked what she enjoys most about her job, she cites the opportunity to interact with a wide range of people and face new challenges on a daily basis, making each day unique. She acknowledges that her decisions and actions directly impact the lives of employees and their families, adding a sense of responsibility and urgency to her work.
“When working in Human Resources, you wake up every day with a sense of purpose. If you do not show up or attend to your work, there will be pending decisions that could significantly impact the lives and economies of families waiting for them.”
Embracing diversity and growth
Agnes credits her coworkers for making her workdays enjoyable and interesting, emphasizing the office's diversity and good sense of community: "Our shared nationality doesn't imply uniformity. Our colleagues represent diverse regions nationwide, each contributing unique backgrounds and perspectives."
Agnes' commitment to treating everyone with the same respect, regardless of rank or background, pervades the workplace atmosphere, encourages inclusivity and empowers every member to do their best.
“I take great pride in the friendly and supportive environment fostered at OPI, where concerted efforts are made to ensure that newcomers, guests, and visitors are warmly welcomed and cared for. Another focus of ours is related to employee involvement. We urge everyone within the organization to participate and engage, regardless of their role or location.”
To Agnes, the individuality of each colleague is not a barrier but a chance to tackle challenges from new angles and foster collaborative learning. She believes a leader's duty includes reinforcing the team's understanding that despite diverse strategies to obstacles, they all strive for the same goal: "Although our paths may differ, a shared objective binds us together as a unified team. Reminding the team of this as a leader enhances motivation and cultivates purposeful work."
Diversity goes beyond gender, age, and nationality; it encompasses all individuals, backgrounds, and life stages. Odfjell’s global network of 13 offices and four terminals employs 2,300 individuals from 27 nationalities.
The international team spans a diverse range of people, with different education, cultures, religions, points of view, orientations and experiences. Odfjell works to enhance gender balance and diversity in all areas, and aims to attain a minimum gender balance of 30% at all levels by the year 2030. OPI leads the way, with a 63% / 37% gender balance among the 76 colleagues.
To women seeking to thrive in male-dominated fields, Agnes offers one piece of advice:
"Be brave, speak up and state your opinions; they will be heard."
Her words echo her journey, where her courage to voice her ideas and demonstrate her capabilities ultimately led to her current leadership position. As she prepares to assume the role of President at Odfjell's Manila office, she expresses her commitment to learning and improvement:
“As President, my immediate priorities are twofold. Firstly, I want to relearn. In a way, I have been handling the task for many years. Now, I want to take a step back and evaluate it objectively, identifying opportunities for further improvement.
Secondly, I want to study the facets of cadetship, aiming to refine our cadetship program even more. The program is the wellspring of and will sustain the Filipino crew pool and I hope to instill a sense of unyielding commitment in our young cadets, making them more likely to stick with the Odfjell through thick and thin.”
In discussing her dream for Odfjell's future, Agnes envisions the company as a pioneer in crewing operations, utilizing cutting-edge technology to elevate its reputation. "I want Odfjell to have the best crew pool and be able to do things differently and better than others."
Crafting confidence through consistent routines
Agnes' daily routines are woven into her overall efficacy. Commencing her day at 4:00 a.m., she undertakes a particular routine: Lemon water and black coffee, exercises, yoga, and meditation. A habit she feels equips her to take on the day's challenges with the right well-being and energy. At the end of the day, another daily routine enters:
“A successful day for me is when I can look back and identify three positive acts or good decisions. These acts don’t have to be huge or impactful; they can be as basic as addressing a colleague's outstanding request, allowing them to complete their ship and people servicing tasks. As the day comes to a close, I reflect on my accomplishments. It always feels good to cap the day feeling accomplished. I consistently strive to cultivate self-motivation, driving myself towards continuous improvement and progress.”
She has experienced and accomplished a lot throughout her career so far, and there’s more to come now that she is stepping up as President. She takes on the role with a well-tested guiding principle in mind: "When the going gets tough, you have to bend so you don’t break."