Navigating Success: 5 Questions with a Chief Security Officer in the Marine Industry
Amberlyn White working with HMCS Summerside and Shawinigan
What does it take to keep Canada's waters secure?

Join us as we delve into Chief Security Officer Amberlyn White’s maritime journey, from the motivations behind her career choice in PEI to her latest experiences training to be a seafarer.
Q: Could you tell us about your background and what motivated you to pursue a career in the marine industry?
Currently, my background is rooted in marine security, where I hold the position of Chief Security Officer at my local port, responsible for handling cruise and commercial ships. Growing up on islands like PEI, I've always had a deep love for the ocean, so working at the port felt like a natural fit for me. My passion for ships led me to start asking questions around the port and talking to vessel crews whenever I could spare some time. This curiosity drove me to learn more about the marine industry, including the role of pilots, the significance of ships' agents, and, most importantly, how to ensure safety on and off vessels. It was this role that inspired me to explore how to access education as a Bridge Watch Rating and pursue a career working as a seafarer on board Canadian vessels.
Q: How did you learn about the Bridge Watch Rating Enhanced (BWR-E) program, and what made you decide to apply for it? Would you have still pursued this program if it hadn’t been advertised or fully funded?
I first came across the Bridge Watch Rating Enhanced (BWR-E) Program while browsing ship-related content on YouTube. At the time, I had been working at the port for nearly a year and was eager to learn more about what it would be like to work on the cruise and commercial ships that frequented the port instead of just near them. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a video that advertised the BWR-E Program and showcased the opportunities it could open up once completed. It was almost serendipitous because I had just found out that I couldn't afford to attend the BWR Program on Prince Edward Island due to the costs, which led me to withdraw from it.

During this challenging time, I reached out to BCIT's Marine department and connected with Debbie Power, who serves as a recruiting contact for the program. Not expecting them to accept and fully fund students from out of province, I was pleasantly surprised when Debbie called me and offered me a last-minute spot in the program. It was a turning point that set me on the path to where I am today.
Q: Overall, how have you enjoyed the BWR-E program? Has it properly equipped you for a career in the industry?
Amberlyn on a field trip to Magic Yachts
I've thoroughly enjoyed the program! It's been an ideal blend of education and enjoyment, and I've formed strong bonds with my classmates and our teacher. In our cohort, Captain Linda Feuerhelm served as our instructor, and her passion for the marine industry and her love for what she does made a world of difference in the classroom setting.

In terms of career readiness, this program has more than adequately equipped me for success. I feel well-prepared and confident to tackle more advanced courses in challenging subjects. I know that when I embark on my next job in the industry, I'll be walking in the door with a solid foundation of knowledge and practical skills that will make me a valuable asset to any vessel.

While the course or instructor cannot guarantee direct job placement, the program has a strong networking component that allows students to connect with industry professionals actively seeking deckhands. This networking has provided me and my classmates with numerous opportunities to explore potential employers and establish connections in line with our values.

Currently, I continue to hold a position with my employer and will return to the Port of Charlottetown as a Chief Security Officer after completing the program until I secure employment onboard a vessel.
Q: Can you share your experiences with the dedicated team of coordinators at BCIT who work with First Nation communities and women's groups? How have they supported you in your journey?
BCIT's dedicated team of coordinators' support has been instrumental in my journey, and I'm immensely grateful for the opportunities they've provided me.

BCIT's supportive staff have played a pivotal role in granting me access to resources, scholarships, and networking opportunities tailored specifically to First Nation communities and women's groups. Through this program and the staff's assistance, I've established connections with prominent names in the industry, including WCMRC, Canadian Coast Guard, and Kotug Canada. The support from BCIT has enabled me and my class to advance both professionally and academically.

Another noteworthy aspect of BCIT's staff is their consistent effort to create inclusive environments. Everyone in our class knows that, regardless of their background, they are valued and welcomed. BCIT's dedication to fostering diversity and empowering marginalized communities has been a source of inspiration for me, and I plan to carry this ethos forward in my career.
Q: In what ways do you think increasing diversity in the marine workforce can benefit both the industry and the communities it serves?
Having a diverse range of people working in the marine industry benefits both mariners directly and the broader global community indirectly, as nearly all products found in homes have been transported by ships.

A diverse team enhances creativity and problem-solving in the workplace. Diverse perspectives from different walks of life enable us to find innovative solutions to the challenges we face in the maritime industry.

Diversity also plays a significant role in safety and operational efficiency. Bringing in individuals with different viewpoints on safety procedures and hazards leads to a better understanding of the measures needed at sea or on vessels to ensure the safety of lives and cargo.

In general, diversity leads to numerous positive outcomes, and as students at BCIT, we aim to contribute to and advocate for a more inclusive and diverse maritime workforce as we embark on our careers as mariners.
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