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MCA nautical policy lead Captain Rakesh Pandit on the attractiveness of a career at sea
7 January 2022
Rakesh Pandit is the nautical policy lead at the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency, advising the government on the safety of navigation policies. He shares why he joined the maritime industry and recommends some of his favourite places to travel
What originally attracted you to a career in maritime?
That's going back a few years now! I had heard from my senior schoolmates about the travel, the money and the freebies onboard. This was very attractive to a 17-year-old not really comprehending the concept of 'career counselling'. The prospect of being able to buy my first pair of faded Levi's from their San Francisco store was also a great motivator.
What did you do in your career and/or education before joining the maritime sector?
I finished school and entered the Merchant Navy as a cadet. I was one of the few upcountry cadets who came from a place far away from the sea.
What does your current job involve?
My job involves informing and advising the UK shipping industry on safety of navigation policies and UK regulations, as the policy lead for SOLAS Ch V and COLREG.
Tell us some of your career highlights so far – and career challenges
I progressed through the ranks form a deck cadet to shipmaster, and then taught in maritime training institutions across two continents for over 12 years. Currently, I am a civil servant with the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency.
Who has helped you the most in your career, and why?
Many people, firstly, I would say the bosun's and AB's who taught me the nuances of seamanship as a deck cadet, and then various students who kept straight and narrow as an academic.
What is the one change that would make the biggest positive difference to your job?
Adopting and embracing all of the 'disruptive' new technologies, whilst still maintaining traditional maritime skills.
How long have you been a member of Nautilus, and what made you join?
I have been with Nautilus just over a year. I think Nautilus is the only trade union with the knowledge and experience to truly help and provide support to maritime professionals. Honestly speaking, with the trade union movement in the UK dying a slow death, I believe it's important to hold onto whatever we have by the way of unions.
Are you a member of any Nautilus forums or committees?
I quite enjoy participating in the Professional and Technical Forum meetings.
What is your favourite place you have visited in your career?
Egypt – oh, the grandeur and history of the pyramids, need I say more? My favourite place, though, is Fremantle, Australia – a smallish quaint town, yet it has lovely promenades that I could walk around over and over again.
What is your favourite film?
My Cousin Vinny – I just love the subtle humour, the plot and performance of the actors.
In fact, after it came out in the cinemas, I bet with one of my friends that the female lead would go on to win the Oscar, and she did!
Tell us one thing that people may not know about you.
I don’t have Facebook, Twitter or any other social media accounts.