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An interview with Elaine Yu FICS - Chair of Singapore branch
Posted on Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Elaine Yu FICS - Chair of ICS
Elaine Yu FICS believes that 'tomorrow is another day'.
Certainly her work as Senior Freight Charterer ensures every day is
different. But, as she explains, this helps to keep things
The challenges of chartering
"Chartering a ship for a cargo sounds as simple as calling a
taxi, but actually there's a lot to take into account. There's the
freight rate, vessel compatibility, preference of shipper,
accountability of ship itinerary, port background and performance
of the contractual counterparty…Balancing all these and finding the
best logistics solution makes the chartering life challenging. It's
also where the excitement comes from, and that's where I find
genuine enthusiasm for my job."
Elaine's passion for her work is clear to see. In fact, there
are so many things she enjoys about the shipping sector that she
has trouble determining which has priority.
Facilitating global trade
"One of the notable aspects about a job in shipping is the
opportunity to contribute to the global movement of goods and the
facilitation of international trade. All the economic news you see
on the TV - that's your job. This helps to grow your awareness and
opens new horizons for you. Shipping is very fulfilling to those
who enjoy a dynamic, interconnected and ever-evolving
And, she continues, the industry has most definitely been
dynamic of late.
"The shipping landscape has witnessed rapid changes in the last
few years. There have been various factors, including technology,
pandemics, the environment and associated decarbonisation
initiatives & regulations as well geoeconomic
Taking personal responsibility
Overcoming these challenges, in Elaine's opinion, requires a
collaborative effort from industry stakeholders.
"There is a Chinese proverb that says 'When the world is in
chaos, every individual has a responsibility'. This emphasises the
idea that, in times such as these, everybody has to take ownership
for the fate of the world. Collaboration amongst industry players,
governments and other international organisations is essential.
Investing in research and development, fostering innovation, and
promoting sustainable practices will contribute to a more resilient
and environmentally responsible shipping industry.
"As well as the challenges these topics represent, they also
bring opportunities. To take advantage of these opportunities, and
to fit into the ever-evolving shipping community, though, one has
to acquire new skills, understand innovations, stay up-to-date on
industry trends and regulations. As long as each individual
continues to play their part, we will get closer to our goal every
An abundance of practical experience
Bringing together and supporting maritime professionals is
something Elaine knows all about. As well as her role in
chartering, she is also Chair of the ICS Singapore branch. Elaine's
relationship with ICS is a long-standing one, beginning with her
first job as a Trainee Manager at Danish shipowner Norden back in
"The ICS qualification was a requirement for all trainees at the
company at that time. The ICS course provided me with an abundance
of practical expertise and wider-angle market insights I did not
learn from books during my studies at maritime university. It
helped me further consolidate my knowledge of the world of
It was, she explains, not until she became of member of ICS that
she truly managed to establish her shipping network.
"Within ICS, I got the chance to know many seniors in the
shipping industry, including those whose experience was not
directly related to my work. These opportunities to learn and to
consult are absolutely priceless. Added to this, my connections
from the ICS brought me increased work opportunities. So, when I
was offered the seat as Chair of ICS Singapore, I was more than
happy to say yes, as I saw a chance to repay the Institute for all
the benefits I have received as a result of its work."
Putting experience to good use
With the benefit of her experience as both student and branch
Chair at the ICS, Elaine has some valuable advice for those
considering undertaking a course.
"I'd personally advise people to understand the course before
they start. ICS courses are designed for people who have some work
experience already, so the depth can be intimidating for industry
newcomers. This can cause frustration for those who are not
"Another recommendation - for newcomers and industry veterans
alike - would be to set yourself realistic goals. To complete the
professional qualification exam (PQE) programme for ICS membership,
one has to pass exams within five years on four mandatory subjects
and three optional subjects (out of twelve). My recommendation
would be to take the exam in one or two subjects during each
semester. This way, students have time for sufficient preparation
and, ultimately, a higher chance of passing."
Elaine also recommends prospective candidates to check their
eligibility for exemptions - candidates with relevant professional
or educational qualifications not older than seven years may be
exempt for up to three subjects.
"It is always worthwhile to check with the Institute in advance,
whether any exemption can be granted on some subjects. This may
save on both time and cost for completing the PQE."
Finally, she advises candidates to see the study - and life
itself - as a journey.
"It involves personal growth, experiences and challenges. Take
your time to embrace change, explore new paths and appreciate your
experience along the way. There is no need to rush!"
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