Marie-Jeanne Pathon is the first Seychellois woman working as First Officer with the Inter-Island Boats Ltd, the mother company of 'Cat Cocos', one of leading fast ferry operators in Seychelles.
Pathon, who has her sights set on becoming a captain, said that she is proud of her achievement and wants to see more women take up careers in navigation.
"Navigation is not only for men. There are many women who are commanding big vessels as captains in the world and we have the possibility to do it in Seychelles. This is what I am aspiring to be in the future. I want to be a captain," said Pathon - a resident of the southern district of Baie Lazare on the main island of Mahe.
As the First Officer, Pathon has many responsibilities but safety always comes first. "All safety equipment onboard falls under my responsibility. As I am responsible for the safety of passengers and crew, I have to make sure that the crew has the proper gear and other materials needed for them to perform their duties. Safety is the number one priority onboard. The safety of our passengers comes first," added the First Officer.
The 36-year-old started her career in 2008 following her studies at the Seychelles Maritime School. During that time Pathon acquired experiences working on both small boats and big vessels - locally and internationally.
Her career as a seafarer began in 2008 with the then Seychelles Marketing Board fleet of vessels. Four years later she joined Seychelles Petroleum Company (SEYPEC) to work on its fleet of tankers.
Working on the tankers were times of trial for Pathon but it also allowed her to discover almost all of the European coasts as well as the western coast of Africa.
"When I was working on the SEYPEC tankers abroad, I did encounter bad weather with very rough seas and scary high waves but I stayed focus and I did what I had to do. By staying focused it helps you overcome the fright you may have inside," recalled Pathon.
After four years, Pathon came back to Seychelles - a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - and took up skipper jobs travelling around the islands including outer ones such as the Aldabra Atoll.
As First Officer, Pathon works on all four vessels of Inter-Island Boats Ltd -- Isle of Mahe, Isle of Praslin, Isle of La Digue and Isle of La Digue Star -- which provides fast ferry service connecting the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue.
The sea offers many opportunities for careers but navigation and fisheries have remained male-dominated. But slowly this is changing with women taking the lead.
Isabella Houareau, who is involved in the fisheries and maritime sector, said "this is a fast-growing industry and one which brings many challenges and opportunities for growth. The industry controls the economic health of our country and the participation of women in maritime activity is critical in harnessing the full potential of the blue economy."
As for First Officer Pathon, the sea is where her future lies. "I want to be a captain. Nothing is impossible in life if you put your mind and passion into it and if you show that you are interested in something, people will help you. And this is also how I got started, by showing I was interested and people believed in me."