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Ashlee Williams | Head of Data Operations | Global Intelligence & Analytics | S&P Global Market Intelligence

Ashlee Williams: Navigating the Seas of Success in the Shipping Sector

The shipping industry, known for its dynamic and challenging nature, requires leaders who can steer their organizations through turbulent waters while embracing diversity and fostering innovation. This dynamic sector demands leaders with a deep understanding of industry intricacies, a visionary mindset and the ability to adapt to emerging trends and technologies.

Moreover, the importance of diversity and inclusion cannot be understated. As the industry becomes increasingly globalized, leaders must foster diverse and inclusive work environments that harness the collective strengths and perspectives of their teams. By championing innovation, embracing diversity and fostering a culture of collaboration, leaders can drive their organizations forward, fueling growth and success in the shipping industry’s exciting and challenging journey ahead.

Ashlee Williams (Head of Data Operations at S&P Global Market Intelligence) is an exceptional leader who acknowledges this aspect. With her extensive experience in the shipping sector, Ashlee has made significant contributions to the industry and stands out as an inspirational figure. Her journey, marked by curiosity, ambition and a commitment to diversity and inclusion, serves as an inspiration to emerging leaders. Ashlee’s contributions to the shipping sector, her initiatives to boost gender diversity and her visionary leadership style demonstrate her dedication to reshaping the industry and creating a more inclusive and innovative future.

S&P Global Market Intelligence, the foremost provider of information services and solutions to global markets, has a strong foothold in the shipping sector. With comprehensive data, insights and innovative solutions, it empowers businesses to make informed decisions and navigate the complexities of the shipping industry. Ashlee plays a crucial role in shaping and enhancing the company’s offerings in the supply chain sector.

Let’s explore Ashlee’s remarkable journey, her contributions to the shipping sector and her vision for a more inclusive and innovative industry!

Setting the Standard

Within the maritime industry, S&P Global Market Intelligence plays a vital role in providing reliable and actionable information to support strategic decision-making. It recognizes that diverse perspectives fuel creative insights, equity unlocks opportunities and inclusion drives growth and innovation, shaping the markets of the future. Its commitment to these principles extends beyond its own workforce, as it strives to better reflect and serve the communities in which they operate while advocating for greater opportunity for all.

As part of its dedication to diversity and inclusion, S&P Global Market Intelligence collaborates with organizations that support and elevate the next generation of diverse leaders. It also actively supports diverse business owners, recognizing the importance of fostering a more inclusive business landscape.

S&P Global Market Intelligence has a longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, backed by well-defined programs that aim to deliver even greater results in the future. The efforts encompass both internal and external commitments, focusing on increasing transparency, developing a global mindset and creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment.

One notable collaboration that highlights the commitment is its joint efforts with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA International). Together, they conducted the first collaborative survey aimed at obtaining baseline data on the number of women in maritime and ocean-related fields and the positions they hold. This survey data has provided a crucial foundation for gaining a clearer understanding of diversity and gender equality within the industry.

The inaugural Women in Maritime survey, published on the first IMO International Day for Women on May 18, 2022, revealed that women account for only 29% of the overall workforce in the general maritime industry and 20% of the workforce of national maritime authorities in the Member States. The survey aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 5, by providing comparable data that can inform the creation of programs and policies to increase women’s participation in the maritime sector.

Looking ahead, S&P Global Market Intelligence plans to continue collaborating with the IMO and WISTA to conduct future surveys and produce reports that not only measure the sector’s progress but also provide guidance on initiatives that can further enhance gender diversity in the maritime industry.

A Trailblazer in the Shipping Sector

Being a highly respected leader in the shipping industry with a career spanning over a decade, Ashlee’s journey began at Lloyd’s Register Fairplay, where her passion for the maritime sector quickly took root. Her role as the Researcher of Ship Ownership exposed her to the evolving landscape of the industry and set the stage for her future accomplishments. Coinciding with the adoption of the Lloyd’s Register Fairplay Number by the IMO. This scheme aimed to enhance maritime safety, security and environmental protection while combatting fraud. During the transition period until its mandatory implementation in 2009, Ashlee traveled extensively, educating the industry on the scheme’s implications.

Throughout her career, she has demonstrated expertise and made significant contributions to the work of the IMO and other industry bodies, particularly in global initiatives and complex negotiations related to combating illegal fishing activities. Despite being often the only woman in the room, Ashlee’s determination, curiosity and drive have propelled her success in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Prior to her maritime focus, she honed her skills in the hospitality sector, where her dedication, customer engagement and leadership abilities propelled her into management roles.

Through her curiosity, ambition and unwavering dedication, Ashlee quickly established herself as a prominent figure in the industry.

Charting a Path of Success

In her role, Ashlee has been fortunate to have the autonomy to explore untapped opportunities and drive expansion in undiscovered areas. By investing in individuals with expertise in developing markets, particularly in the Asia Pacific region, she has been able to achieve cost savings and ensure a smooth transition of talent through succession planning. Ashlee annotates, “I have created effective customer care strategies, whilst developing long-term relationships with customers, driving brand loyalty and increasing customer engagement.” Additionally, she is responsible for defining and implementing operational models that align processes, procedures and systems with the organization’s strategic objectives.

Ashlee leads data governance and quality management efforts, adhering to ISO 9001:2015 standards, while also developing and implementing risk mitigation strategies. Furthermore, she has spearheaded technology and digital transformation projects that leverage cloud infrastructure, improve operational performance, reduce technical debt, manage risk and create new revenue opportunities. Ashlee’s expertise in executing growth strategies has led to the successful integration of market-leading assets and capabilities in data and content across the Maritime & Trade sector.

Ashlee’s journey in the shipping sector has been characterized by a series of significant roles and achievements that have shaped her into the leader she is today. Her diverse background, including prior experience in the hospitality industry, has contributed to her unique perspective and ability to navigate complex challenges.

Transitioning from the hospitality sector, where Ashlee gained valuable experience in managing operations and leading teams, she excelled in senior data transformation, operations and client services roles within the shipping sector. Her responsibilities included defining and implementing operating models, data governance, risk mitigation and technology and digital transformation projects. Ashlee’s achievements included delivering cost savings, enhancing customer care strategies and driving operational efficiency through M&A integration strategies.

Leading with Vision and Fostering Diversity

Ashlee’s journey is a testament to the power of passion, resilience and a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Through her various roles and accomplishments, Ashlee has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities, driving growth and fostering innovation.

As the shipping industry continues to evolve, Ashlee envisions a future where leadership is more inclusive, adaptable and responsive to the changing needs of organizations and individuals. By embracing diversity and creating a sense of belonging, leaders can unlock the full potential of teams and contribute to a more equitable and prosperous maritime sector.

Ashlee’s advice and principles for emerging leaders serve as guiding lights on the path to success. By embracing passion, kindness, emotional intelligence, understanding the needs of others and building strong relationships, emerging leaders can navigate their own journeys with purpose and make a lasting impact in the chosen fields.

As Ashlee continues to inspire and lead in the shipping sector, her dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion sets an example for others to follow. With her vision and commitment, she paves the way for a more inclusive and thriving industry.

Driving Growth and Innovation

In her role as Head of Data Operations, Ashlee has demonstrated her exceptional leadership skills and industry expertise in the shipping sector. Her key responsibilities have encompassed driving operational efficiency, fostering customer relationships and leading technology and digital transformation initiatives. Some of her notable achievements include:

  • Developing and implementing the operating model for data operations, aligning processes and systems with strategic objectives.
  • Establishing data governance and quality management standards, ensuring the accuracy and reliability of information.
  • Leading technology and digital transformation projects, enhancing operational performance and generating new revenue opportunities.
  • Successfully executing growth strategies through M&A integration, resulting in operational cost synergies and expanded capabilities.

Empowering Gender Diversity

Ashlee’s commitment to promoting gender diversity within the shipping sector has been a cornerstone of her leadership. She recognizes the importance of creating an inclusive and equitable environment that empowers women and fosters their professional growth. Ashlee has taken specific initiatives to boost gender diversity, including:

  • Working with the IMO and WISTA International to conduct the first collaborative survey on the representation of women in maritime and ocean fields.
  • Publishing the Inaugural Women in Maritime survey, which provides baseline data to guide initiatives that enhance gender diversity in the sector.
  • Advocating for greater transparency, inclusivity and opportunity for women in maritime, both within S&P Global Market Intelligence and in collaboration with industry organizations.

A Catalyst for Change

Ashlee’s commitment to diversity initiatives extends beyond organizational boundaries. She understands the importance of building meaningful and valuable collaborations to support diversity initiatives. Through networking and relationship building, she has forged strong connections within S&P Global and external organizations. Ashlee shares, “You can’t build meaningful and valuable relationships without the commitment to meet, discuss, share and work on common goals.” Her commitment to diversity and inclusion has led to collaborations with various associations and organizations, enabling her to support and create initiatives that promote diversity, particularly gender diversity.

By being an authentic and respected role model, Ashlee has fostered long-lasting relationships based on trust and shared goals. She says, “Over my career in maritime, I’ve shown authenticity, been respectful, open and committed to relationships and these are long-lasting. Relationships are built over time and with trust, this leads to new lines of interest and brand loyalty.” By becoming a member of various industry associations, Ashlee has formed valuable collaborations and opened doors to limitless possibilities.

Recognized for Excellence: Accolades

Ashlee’s dedication to gender diversity and leadership has not gone unnoticed. Her commitment to gender diversity has gained recognition in the industry. As the founder of Women in Maritime, Ashlee’s efforts contributed to IHS Markit (now S&P Global) being recognized as the seventh Charter company by Maritime UK for efforts addressing gender fairness, equality and inclusion within the maritime sector. She serves as a global board representative of Women’s Initiative for Networking & Success (WINS) Global, where she focuses on communication strategies, raising awareness and ensuring the value of diversity in the workplace is understood. She has received prestigious recognition for her efforts, including being listed on the Heroes Future Leaders Role Model List in 2022 and being shortlisted for the WeAreTheCity Rising Stars Champion Awards in the same year.

Ashlee’s involvement as a DE&I Honors Committee member for TPM, a prominent conference in the container shipping and logistics community, highlights her dedication to recognizing efforts and improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the transportation and logistics sector. Through mentorship programs, such as the YMCA’s ‘Y’s Girls program,’ Ashlee mentors young girls, empowering them to set achievable goals, build resilience and lead fulfilling lives. Ashlee has been named Winner of the WeAreTheCity Rising Stars Champion Award 2023. These accolades are a testament to her commitment to fostering an inclusive and diverse maritime industry.

Leadership Defined

Ashlee describes her leadership style as situational, adapting to the needs of individuals and the moment at hand. With proven multicultural experience, change management expertise and global insights, Ashlee leads with authenticity, integrity and effective communication. Her vision for the future of leadership is a more inclusive one, where diversity and inclusion are key drivers of success. She emphasizes the importance of adapting leadership styles in a hybrid work environment while not losing sight of the value of in-person interactions. Ashlee believes in recognizing the needs of people, customers and communities in all that we do and encourages leaders to embrace the skills necessary to successfully deliver in these areas.

The Future of Leadership

Ashlee envisions a future of leadership that is more inclusive and adaptable. Leaders should strive to understand different cultural and behavioral cues, foster relationships and create a sense of belonging. Effective listening and understanding will be crucial skills for leaders in the coming decade.

Lessons and Principles for Success

Drawing from her own experiences, Ashlee offers valuable advice and principles for emerging leaders who are embarking on a leadership journey. These lessons have played a significant role in shaping her leadership style and fostering her success. Here are some important insights:

  • Love what you do: Ashlee emphasizes the importance of passion and enjoyment in one’s chosen field. Loving your work fuels motivation and dedication, enabling you to overcome challenges and continuously strive for excellence.
  • Be kind to yourself and others: Kindness is a fundamental principle that Ashlee values in leadership. Being compassionate towards oneself and others creates a supportive and positive environment, fostering teamwork and collaboration.
  • Manage emotional responses: Ashlee advises taking a step back and reviewing emotionally charged responses before reacting. Emotions can influence decision- making, and by approaching situations with clarity and composure, leaders can make well-considered choices.
  • Understand the needs of people, customers and communities: Leaders must develop a deep understanding of the needs and aspirations of the team members, customers and the broader community. By listening and empathizing, leaders can create environments that foster growth, satisfaction and meaningful engagement.
  • Build and nurture relationships: Ashlee highlights the significance of building strong relationships early in one’s career. Networking, actively engaging with others and nurturing connections can lead to new opportunities, collaborations and support networks throughout a leader’s journey.

As a trailblazer in the shipping sector, Ashlee exemplifies these principles and encourages emerging leaders to embrace them on one’s own path to success.

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