South African steps into chair of international association
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South African steps into chair of international association

Taking the lead in safety and survival training

SOUTH AFRICA: South African, Samantha Montes was elected as the new chairperson of the International Association for Safety and Survival Training (IASST) at an event held in Baku, Azerbaijan at the end of September. She will serve a three year term.

“I have been in this field (maritime) for more than 20 years, I never thought I would be the first in anything in my career. From the IASST being a mere certificate on the walls which I pass every day at work, to now heading up this Association is quite a personal achievement,” she told Maritime Review this week.

“I have been in this field (maritime) for more than 20 years, I never thought I would be the first in anything in my career. From the IASST being a mere certificate on the walls which I pass every day at work, to now heading up this Association is quite a personal achievement.” 

IASST was founded in 1980 by a group of safety training providers whose aim was to enhance the quality of emergency response training by encouraging an interchange of knowledge and expertise between training providers on a global basis.

Montes, who has been on the board of the Association since June 2022 says that the introduction of virtual meetings prompted by the COVID-19 situation allowed her to engage more closely with IASST in online settings during 2021.

“At that meeting, I engaged with members,” she explains and obviously left a good impression as it resulted in a call from members for her to stand for a position on the board of directors. She was soon elected in the capacity of membership director at their meeting in Halifax in 2022 and promptly organised an international seminar which was held in Cape Town in the same year.

The position of chairperson, however, became available this year as the newly elected Henk Spanjer indicated that he was unable to serve his full term. This development lead to a request from the board for Montes to step up for election.

“I was up for the challenge,” she says having served on several committees and managed the CPUT Erasmus + Project. “As the association's constitution states only someone who has previously been on the board of directors may be considered as chair.”

Montes has a number of goals that she hopes to deliver within in her tenure. “With newer members joining, they are not familiar with who is part of the association and I would like to introduce a mentoring-like forum for those who serve on the technical and academic committees of various organizations to share their papers/research with others,” she says adding that there is an appetite to establish working groups to address common challenges faced by training providers and this idea will be presented to members at a meeting in Malaysia in April next year.

Highlighting what it means to be a woman and representing the African continent in this role, Montes hopes to see more women in similar posts in their organisations. “Safety has no gender discrimination,” she notes.

“Coming from Africa, it was so refreshing to engage with members and receive such support. The partners share information without prejudice,” she says.

Commenting on the spirit of Ubuntu often spoken about in South Africa, Montes also highlights the need to embrace this sense of collaboration more effectively within the local maritime forums.

“I hope to bring my knowledge of how other countries (training providers) have worked to mitigate their challenges to our shores.”

International networking

Associations such as IASST provide this opportunity to learn from fellow members and Montes has just returned from a seminar where delegates from Latvia, Russia, Malaysia, Romania, Canada, Japan, Netherlands and Ireland shared their experiences within the safety and survival training space.

The seminar includes roundtable discussions on new research in the field and presentations from heavyweights in the international shipping world.

Current IASST Board Members:

  • Chair: Samantha Montes. Senior Maritime Instructor & Manager - Department of Maritime Studies: Survival Centre | South Africa
  • Membership Director: Nikita Versockis. Head of Offshore Training. Novikontas Training Centre | Latvia
  • Marketing Director: Naoki Saito. Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) - General Manager, Maritime Education and Training Certification Department | Japan
  • Financial Director: Cormac Mac Sweeney. Master Mariner. Lecturer National Maritime College of Ireland - MTU Munster Technological University | Ireland


CAPTION: Samantha Montes with outgoing chairperson Henk Spanjer 



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