Tamara Lowe: ‘My roles involve aligning efforts toward promoting an awareness among young women of the career opportunities available within the Maritime sector with the hope of addressing the under-representation of women in the industry.’
Tamara Lowe grew up on the Caribbean island of Dominica. Now tasked with managing all shipping to and from the island for Tropical Shipping, she reflects on her unlikely career in an industry that was never on her radar and the woman she has become because of it.
“What has surprised me most is how I have grown to appreciate the complexity of the shipping industry, which is, in one way or another, imbedded in the very fabric of our everyday lives.”
Lowe grew up in Zicack, Portsmouth, located on the northern side of Dominica.
“As a child, I loved reading,” she said. “The Portsmouth Library was my favorite place to be.”
She was also a teenage athlete, running the 400-meter dash and playing netball. Her parents couldn’t afford to send her to a university, and her summer internship at the local power company wasn’t going to cover her tuition either, so Lowe improvised. “I won a scholarship to go to University by way of participating in a beauty pageant,” she said. “I’ve always loved Economics. I wanted to someday work with the United Nations in poverty alleviation. I attended the University of Holguin in Cuba, where I became bilingual (in English and Spanish) and earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics.”
Lowe returned to Dominica in 2006. In February of 2007, she landed a position as a Sales Representative for Tropical Shipping.
“It opened a whole new world of microeconomics – working with businesses of all sizes, establishing strong relationships, and understanding their challenges and the nature of their businesses to provide transportation solutions.”
Six years later, Lowe took on the position of Island Manager.
A strong, focused leader
Lowe describes her first impression of Tropical as “too good to be true.”
“I learned later that everything was genuine. I love how the Management Team has created a space where ‘people are our priority,’ where innovation and creativity are embraced, and where diversity and inclusivity are highly encouraged. My job has forced me, an introvert, to evolve and grow in this highly competitive industry. Working in shipping is exciting, and there is never a dull moment. Under the supportive umbrella of Tropical Shipping, I have developed some amazing skills over the years, which include problem-solving, decisiveness, conflict management, self-management, emotional intelligence, and teamwork, among others, and I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge of the industry.”
In September of 2017, Hurricane Maria’s Category 5 winds ravaged Dominica and several other Caribbean islands, including Saint Croix and Puerto Rico. Lowe describes the hurricane as her greatest professional challenge.
“There were so many critical areas to focus on: my wellbeing and that my family, the wellbeing of my team and that of our customers, and getting the company – which was completely destroyed – back on its feet as the country needed Tropical Shipping to be up and running since food and supplies would be brought in on our vessels. I had to be a strong, focused leader, more so than usual. I’ll never forget sitting in my laundry room, the only safe space in the house, while Hurricane Maria was devouring my island and listening to Kenia (Carmona) – our South Florida Sales Manager – and her entire family on the phone praying fervently for our safety. It brings me to tears when I think of it.”
Recently, Lowe spearheaded a project aimed at putting tablet devices into the hands of students across the island who were negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling to attend school.
“Saltchuk sponsored Tropical Shipping’s partnership with the Rotary Club of Dominica to provide 10 deserving students from across the island with tablets,” she said. “We made sure that we knew who the children were, their backgrounds, their dreams and aspirations. It was heartwarming to see the excitement and hope on their faces and to know that this would have a positive impact on their lives.”
Making her mark
Lowe’s typical day begins with meditation – and ends with an hour in the gym.
“I believe in mental wellness, so meditation and exercise are a must,” she said. “During my week, I try as much as possible to include time for stepping back and looking at the big picture, time for creativity and innovation where I look at trends and explore new ways of accomplishing our short- and long-term goals, and time to look at ways to empower and motivate my team.”
Lowe said she’s spent the past several years preparing herself for the future: she’s earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Management and recently completed a master’s degree in Strategic Management. She said she’s also interested in pursuing additional studies in Maritime Management. In addition, Lowe champions the cause of women’s empowerment in shipping, considering the under-representation of women in the industry. She currently serves as the President of the Women in Maritime Association Caribbean’s (WiMAC) Dominica Chapter and played an integral part in its establishment in 2019. In March of 2021, she was appointed the Vice President of Membership and Administration for the Caribbean Association overall.
“My roles involve aligning efforts toward promoting an awareness among young women of the career opportunities available within the Maritime sector with the hope of addressing the under-representation of women in the industry, and, most importantly, helping to create a network to inspire, engage, educate and empower women and encourage them to make their mark.”
For love of Tropical
Lowe is a poet and performs at literary events in the Caribbean. Earlier this year, one of her poems premiered at the popular Bocas Literary Festival in Trinidad.
She also manages an Instagram account for her rottweiler Prep: @iam_prep. “I love capturing his funny moments and posting to social media,” she said.
“I also believe in giving back to my community; hence I serve as a mentor to young people and as a member of the Rotary Club of Dominica.”
She said her future is aligned with Tropical Shipping, a company she believes goes above and beyond to encourage women to take on leadership positions.
“A lot of our managers are women, including Jennifer Nugent-Hill, who is our Director of Government and Community Affairs and a mentor to many. Additionally, the women at Tropical have always sought me out to provide their support and knowledge. There are so many things that I love about Tropical: how the company encourages growth and development, the open culture and close-knit relationships, and how AVP Mark Lopez – who I report to directly – has constantly pushed me towards a culture of continuous improvement.”
“I am most proud of how I – as my Mom would say – ‘have a good head on my shoulders,’ and how I have evolved into the leader that I am today: unafraid and willing to take on new Goliaths every day, inside my head and outside of it.”