Knutsen OAS Shipping deputy managing director Synnove Seglem is not only working at the forefront of LNG shipping, she holds a key position in a family-owned business with her father — Trygve Seglem — at the helm and as the main shareholder.
She and her sister, Jorunn, who runs Knutsen Ballast Water Tankers, also have stakes in the business, with Synnove taking care of the group’s LNG carriers and product tankers.
Although there was an expectation from family friends that she would go into shipping, the younger daughter said she was under no pressure from her parents.
Seglem did know she wanted to be an engineer. She said there are many in the family.
At 18 and studying material science and engineering, she decided against shipping, mainly because everyone thought she would choose it.
But unbeknown to her, she already had the bug.
Seglem said she had been attending industry events and visiting shipyards with her father since she was eight. She charts her first day at work for Knutsen to the age of 12 when she became godmother on her first ship, the stainless-steel chemical tanker Synnove Knutsen.
While studying, she spent two summers at Sestao Shipyard in Spain, which was building the 138,000-cbm LNG carrier Bilbao Knutsen (built 2004).
“That’s when I thought, shipping is not so bad — I quite like it,” she said.
- ME in Material Science & Engineering from Imperial College London
- MSc Shipping, Trade & Finance from Bayes Business School (formerly known as Cass)
- 2004 to 2007: DNV GL surveyor
- 2008 to 2011: DNV consultant
- 2011 to 2013: Knutsen OAS Shipping technical operation engineer
- 2013 to present: Knutsen OAS Shipping deputy managing director
Today, she is closely engaged with the operational side of the business.
She took on a new challenge this year, becoming only the second female president of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association — a milestone that has been 10 years in the making — and a position she will hold for two years.
“What I think is important is to show that shipping is a very interesting and attractive place to work for any young people,” she said.
Aside from encouraging more women to look at working in shipping, she believes young men also want to see a diverse workplace.
Seglem said the industry needs good resources and smart people to cope with the big changes, such as digitalisation and decarbonisation.
“We need to show that shipping is not old-fashioned and boring, even though we have a reputation of being old men in blue suits drinking whisky,” she said.
“We have to show that we are something else. We are modern and we are changing, and we want to make a difference.”
Seglem enjoys an active outdoors lifestyle, including skiing and hiking and anything near the water. She skied competitively when younger and is now playing coach to her kids.
She describes herself as “easygoing”, “very positive” and “outgoing”. Those who know her say she is “very knowledgeable, with a razor-sharp focus on all divisions of the company”.
She is also a big fan of teamwork: “When it comes to shipping, it is not a one-man operation.”