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   Doehle Seafront Crewing (Manila), Inc.
   3/F Döhle Haus Manila
   30-38 Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue
   Barangay San Isidro
   1234 Makati City
   Tel: (+632) 705 8400
   Fax: (+632) 705 8403




Women Leaders Series

Written at 19 August, 2016 by newseditor

Publication : Current - Special Presidential Edition 2016



Atty. Iris Baguilat
1st Woman President
Dohle Seafront Crewing

Written by
Camela Huelar

Photos courtesy of Dohle Business
Development Director Mia Morales


There was a time when women occupying high position in the country’s manning industry were quite a rarity. As they say, like most in shipping, man­ning was quite the proverbial male territory. This has not been the case though in the past few years, and along with the rising popularity of Filipino seafarers in manning the global fleet, women’s position at the top also saw a stark increase may it be onboard ves­sels as officers or as company executives. Nowadays, women have been actually lauded for their unique leadership and astute handling of even the most sen­sitive positions. Women like Atty. Iris Baguilat, Pres­ident of Dohle Seafront Crewing (Manila), Inc. have become part of an increasing number of females occupying important positions in what was once a male dominated industry.


Atty. Baguilat’s foray into the maritime sector though did not happen overnight. The profession



she chose after graduating from college was quite a far cry from the one she is holding right now. “I was in my late 20s and was quite very clear in what I want and this is to become a lawyer. Later on, I did realize that I want something different and should focus in an area of specialization which is maritime law”.

Why Maritime law? Atty. Baguilat answers that she felt she just always liked the idea. “It isn’t the usual kind of specialization you find around and I really wanted to find a niche. Also, I am from Bohol and during those years and every time we would travel, we take the boat from Bohol to Cebu. There were no fast crafts yet so a trip is about four hours long. Maybe that part triggered the maritime curiosity.”

The decision led her to work in government offices and later on private practices that deal specifically with purely domestic vessels and legal representations for export import companies and brought her to deal with maritime related agencies like the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA). It was during this time too that she somehow managed to touch base


and partner with a Norwegian company that was a start up. As they say, the rest is history. Baguilat is currently the president of Döhle Seafront Crewing (Manila), Inc. the Filipino crewing arm of the Döhle Group, one of the leading providers of shipping services worldwide and employs thousands of Filipino seafarers. Founded in 1956 in Hamburg, the family-owned company operates a modern fleet of around 500 container vessels, multi-purpose vessels, and bulk carriers. Beside the core competences of chartering and sale & purchase of ships, the Döhle Group offers a wide variety of further services in financial, commercial, and technical support to insurance services and crew management, full agency services, bunker services, as well as development of shipping software. It also acts as exclusive chartering broker for a fleet of 500 container ships, bulk and multi-purpose vessels.

Baguilat stresses that heading the Manila office for such a big company is a testament of the shipowners trust in her capability to make decisions “It is a relationship based on mutual trust and hinged on real partnership and never


about gender” She points out debunking any doubt that may look upon the Filipino partners as just dummy partners. She adds, “I have a direct line to talk to the higher ups in the company. As president, monitoring and overseeing are mine. Critical decisions are mine”.

She furthers, “We aren’t just their manning agents here- the relationship was more of a partnership from the outset and that’s really getting into the business on a day to day basis. They were looking for Filipino business partners and found us. From the beginning it’s a partnership that is bona fide and transparent”.

Baguilat adds that she did not have a long history with the Döhle Group, yet was given the full responsibility and trust usually reserved for those already quite known to them or have a tested strong partnership.

Making the Filipino seafarers part of nation building

Baguilat points out to the commitment the owners have given to their Filipino counterparts. Since day one, the owners gave their support to some of the changes and developments she wants to implement within Döhle Seafront. These undertakings, Baguilat says involved her commitment to not just send and supply crew to the Group’s owned vessels, “but also to extract some changes in the way we train and treat our seafarers. They aren’t just crew, but part of the family that should be treated with utmost respect. We aren’t just employers, and they are not just employees. We want to change the way we look upon our seafarers and instead treat them as professionals with an important task that includes providing a better future for their families, sending in much needed remittances that helps the economy not that of the county only but also the world”.


As 90% of the goods around the globe are still being moved via ships, Baguilat outlines the fact that more than half of these ships are actually manned by Filipino seafarers. She stresses, “We want our seafarers to move beyond the old thinking that their profession is just a means to feed their families. We want them to be proud of their profession and actually realize their contribution to the national economy and nation building as a whole”.

In an unstable economic environment that has wracked the shipping industry for a while after the Lehman Brothers crash in 2008, the manning industry remains stable with nary a ripple in its steady supply of qualified seafarers.

Baguilat adds, “It is also high time that the country recognize our seafarers’ contribution to nation building. Aside from an annual revenue of US$5 Billion in remittances turned over to the national coffers, it should also be known that for every job generated by a seafarer, we have ancillary services that are created. She explains, “Here in the country, when shipping and manning companies purchase and develop properties and buildings, that’s investment.

We purchase local equipment from local suppliers. When we send money, that is revenue translated as well or even when we buy from local markets. When seafarers are required to train before they can be let onboard the vessels, then training centers make money as well. The multiplier effect is in place. We are the preferred labor supplier to the world fleet and that earns billions of dollars annually but we haven’t really looked at the multiplier effect. We want to see really how much are we contributing”. Baguilat furthers, “I am really proud to say that the Dohle Group has been very supportive of the changes I wanted to



Baguilat furthers, “I am really proud to say that the Dohle Group has been very supportive of the changes I wanted to implement within the company. One of these I remember was selling the idea of streamlining the processing of any documents or tasks within. This also optimizes our work.

They agreed with me that in the end, it would all translate into efficient work hours and reduce the number of people handing the transaction. Our office workers should also be as professional as possible in handling the crew. No more “pasalubong” from the crew – I understand that we are Filipinos and it’s a cultural thing for us to give but that one has to go.

Baguilat says, “Part of nation building is that we ensure that we also equip our seafarers for BIGGER battles ahead, one of which is that threat to our dominance in supplying the global shipping community”.

She believes that the country is in competition with other labor supplying countries like Vietnam, Myanmar, and even China. Some of the reasons why shipowners and employers look for other alternative is because of the notion that Filipino seafarers have become quite expensive. Also, there’s that problem with unreasonable crew claims that have driven employers away. “We need to educate them as to the dangers of these excessive demands and pricing ourselves out of the market.”

Baguilat also made mention of the Döhle Family Program aimed at involving the seafarer, his family and their children. This project accordingly was a resounding success and is now being carried over for yet another year. She explains, “We involve the seafarer and his family in this activity and try to lessen the impact of the breadwinners absence in raising the children.”
She also points out to the company’s services now being offered to other shipowners



outside of their existing Döhle Group accounts. Döhle Seafront, she adds, can offer their expertise in the business and providing an already existing structure to those looking for a company that can handle their manning requirements. She stresses,” We can do everything for them –like our existing dorms, training centers, professional officers and well trained and qualified seafarers. We can do everything for them and yet give them the option to remain independent. The client (shipowner) is really the employer and we don’t get in the way”.

Her other passions


Baguilat to her colleagues is a tireless advocate for transforming the country into a total maritime country. Aside from the demanding hours that her position as president of Döhle Seafront entails, she still manages to work fervently for some legislative agendas that aim to help the country attain the totality of its potential as a maritime power. Her most recent success was having the


Co-Loading Bill passed into law last year. With RA No. 10668. Foreign vessels can now transport foreign cargo to the final port of destination in the Philippines. The law allows foreign vessels to also carry similar items intended for export from a local port of origin through another and eventually to a foreign port of final destination. Foreign vessels may also enter into co-loading arrangements with other foreign vessels for the carriage or transportation of foreign cargo within the Philippines. The law allows foreign shippers, importers, and exporters to transship independently their cargo from one port to another within the Philippines.

This then enhances the competitiveness of importers and exporters in international trade and reduces shipping costs of imported and exported cargoes for the benefit of consumers.

“My work in Döhle Seafront is all about helping our coun


try remain the number one supplier of the most preferred seafarer to the global fleet and I am assured of this because of the continued support of our partner, the Döhle Group,“ Baguilat adds.

About Our Feature Woman Leader


Atty. Iris Baguilat is the first and only female President of Dohle Seafront Crewing Manila Incorporated, the Philippine-based crewing arm of Dohle Group, the world’s biggest maritime job services provider. Atty. Baguilat is an alumnus of BA Political Science at the University of the Philippines-Cebu and graduated law at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. She took up Post-Graduate studies abroad.


Published in: by newseditor