Jobs 101: Shipbroker

Find out what it is like to be a shipbroker in one of the world’s leading maritime industries, Singapore.


Published: 10 December 2014, 8:01 PM

The maritime industry in Singapore is known to be male dominated. However, there are some who insist on breaking this stereotype and pursuing their dream job. Last Friday, Youth.SG had the opportunity of talking to Claire Seetoh, 25, to suss out more details on her career as a shipbroker at SPI Marine.

Who: Claire Seetoh, 25

Occupation: Shipbroker at SPI Marine

Studied: Economics and Finance at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (RMIT)

 Tell us more about yourself


I have been at SPI Marine for five years and recently got married last November. I am outgoing and enjoy mingling with people, which makes me suitable for my job.

How and why did you become a shipbroker?

Back in school, seven years ago, I was given various job choices for my six months attachment programme (which included jobs such as ship agent and charterers). I chose to intern in a shipbroking company as I found it more interesting than the others.

During my internship, I was exposed to the chemical industry (something we were not exposed to in school). I began to enjoy my attachment more as I learnt about Singapore’s chemical industry.

Two years after my internship, I got a full-time job in the same company (SPI Marine) and I have been working here ever since.

Describe a typical day at work

My day-to-day activities include maintaining contracts with my clients, be it through phone calls or lunch and dinner meet-ups. This allows me to build a relationship with them, enabling me to execute a healthy and successful contract.

Claire discussing business deals with her clients over tea. Photo credit: Singapore Maritime Foundation

I am like a middleman to my clients; I receive the forecast from the charterers (cargo owners) and convey the message to the ship owners, helping them look for cargo space.


What difficulties do you face?

When I first started out at 20-years-old, many were not open to trusting me due to my gender, age and inexperience. However as time went by, my clients grew more accepting of me as I began to build their trust through successful deals.

As a shipbroker, I have to constantly be on my feet as our work has a short turnover time. Every minute is different; within half an hour, the ship owners may find a better paying cargo and turn down the deal. Especially during times when there is limited space in the market, charterers’ slow response may cost the deal.


How long have you been doing this and how has the industry changed?

I have been doing this for seven years (if you include my internship period). During my attachment, Japanese owners dominated the market. As the years went by, we began to see more Korean and Chinese owners in the market. This shows how the market demand changes over the years.

What motivates you in your work?

Satisfying customers motivates me in my work. Being able to fix my clients’ problems or my own challenges and being appreciated afterwards reminds me that I am doing a good job.


Educational requirements:

Companies are generally willing to recruit people without experience or relevant qualifications as the skills needed for the job is gained on-the-job.

Nonetheless, a wide range of shipping-related business courses are available in local universities and overseas.


Patient, innovative, has a positive attitude and loves to socialise.

Working hours:

Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. However, you are expected to be available 24/7.

You may also be required to travel extensively due to the global and dynamic nature of shipbroking.

Salary range:

Starts between $2,500 to $3,000 per month.

Shipbrokers with two to three years of experience can expect to earn $4,000 to $4,500 per month.


What do you find most interesting about this job, or is there anything else you want to know about it? Post a comment below.

Comment by Jan 10 and five lucky commenters will win $50 Capitaland vouchers, sponsored by the Singapore Maritime Foundation.




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