Yevgeniy Smazanovich: The Most Important Things When Working at Sea Are Self-Motivation and Teamwork Skills

Yevgeniy Smazanovich, Second Officer in Columbia Shipmanagement
Yevgeniy Smazanovich, Second Officer in Columbia Shipmanagement

Second Officer Yevgeniy Smazanovich had his first voyage on a vessel operated by Columbia Shipmanagement (CSM) in 2013. Yevgeniy chose a seafarer’s occupation following his parents’ advice, and today he cannot imagine his life without the seas. Yevgeniy combines work and further education. He has passed the IELTS test at C1 level in London and plans to obtain a master’s degree in Maritime Law or Marine Operations Management. The Professional Seafarer interviewed Yevgeniy on the topic of the challenges young Ukrainian officers face when building a maritime career.

Professional Seafarer: Yevgeniy, as far as we understand, it wasn’t your idea to become a seafarer.
Yevgeniy Smazanovich: That’s right. My parents thought it was an excellent occupation: one is able to earn money and to see the world. And also they wanted me to study not far from home. Our Maritime University is one of the best in terms of maritime specialities, and it is located nearby so it was very convenient. At the same time my parents’ wish to have me beside them didn’t come true because being a seafarer I work away from home. I have been to Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Holland, Malta, Cyprus, Egypt, Albania, Portugal, Morocco, Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo, the Ivory Coast, Brazil, Columbia, Argentina, Uruguay, the Canary Islands and the USA. I like Turkey most of all- the scenery is magnificent there when passing through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. One can see very beautiful coastal landscapes when entering ports in France, Italy, Holland and Spain.

Professional Seafarer: Do you remember your first voyage well?
Yevgeniy Smazanovich: Yes, I remember my first experience at sea clearly. I was a cadet on a tanker with a crew of 19 people. The ship traded all over the world from Ukrainian ports to New York harbour.

Professional Seafarer: Was it difficult?
Yevgeniy Smazanovich: It was a bit of everything. The crew weren’t bad and they worked like professionals. The hardest thing happened during the fifth month of the contract term. I could see my home town, even my balcony through the binoculars, but couldn’t leave the ship. I knew we would trade for one more month to New York and only from there would I be able to fly back home. I have never been more reluctant to go to New York in my life!

Professional Seafarer: How did you find yourself working for Columbia Shipmanagement?
Yevgeniy Smazanovich: Managers of the company visited our university a few times and presented CSM to the students. I liked what I heard so I came to their office for an interview to get a position of a deck cadet. By that time I had worked on various types of vessels as a cadet, so I already had some experience. I remember that I wanted the interview to be successful, that it would be a shame if I failed. But I did well. Frankly, in comparison to the IELTS or TOEFL tests, the English tests in any crewing agency are a piece of cake.

Professional Seafarer: Are you saying you were ready for English tests? And what about interview questions in your speciality?
Yevgeniy Smazanovich: You do not know what questions you will be asked, so it is better to follow the curriculum and to have profound knowledge in your area of specialization. After all, all questions will be connected with your major. I can give a piece of advice to those intending to be interviewed: if you want to work for a specific company but are not fully confident in yourself, you could try to gain an interview in other companies first. That way you would get an idea about the interview procedure, and it would be useful in another way too: other crewing agencies may have some job offers for you. Try it, it will certainly not be a waste of time.

Professional Seafarer: Tell us about your career at CSM.
Yevgeniy Smazanovich: I worked as a cadet for one contract term, as a junior officer for another contract term, then I was promoted to the third officer, and on my next voyage I worked in that capacity. After my last contract term as a third officer I got three letters of recommendation for promotion to the second officer.

Professional Seafarer: Which vessels did you work on?
Yevgeniy Smazanovich: It would be easier to say which vessels I did not work on. I worked on a hydrographic survey ship, passenger ferry, bulk carrier and on tankers.

Professional Seafarer: What was your longest voyage?
Yevgeniy Smazanovich: The longest one was seven and a half months. I think the optimum term is four months. It is not enough to get tired and to miss home much.

Professional Seafarer: What advice would you like to give to future seafarers?
Yevgeniy Smazanovich: Take your education seriously, develop self-discipline and invest time and efforts into self-study. Once you start working, make sure you follow all the company’s guidelines. And the most important thing is being a professional. Maintaining good relations with the crew is also vital when working in a confined space. Actually, such things as self-motivation, teamwork and leadership skills are very important at sea.