Posted: 26th September 2016
Lee is our Cadet Training Officer based on the Isle of Man. He grew up in South Africa and as a former seafarer who came ashore in June 2014 we caught up with him to find out more about what he does, how he got to where he is today and who ‘stole’ his nose when he was six years old.
How long have you been in your role?
I transferred from the Vessel RMS St Helena to shore in June 2014
What does a typical day involve?
My average day is made up of organising cadet travel, ensuring our cadets are all in college. I ensure their documents are correct and in date and will arrange medicals and visa appointments. Visiting cadets is a big part of my role as I’m not just their training officer but their mentor too. That involves checking they are coping in college and ensuring they have support with their studies. I also liaise between the cadets and their sponsoring company.
Tell us how you got to where you are today – briefly describe your career path?
I started as a deck cadet officer in 2005 at Fleetwood Nautical College in the UK. I qualified in 2007 as Deck Officer, OOW (Officer of the Watch) and I started on-board the RMS St Helena as 3rd Officer.
Loading cargo to the most remote islands in the world was challenging yet rewarding. I did my Chief Officers training in 2012 and came back to the RMS St Helena as 2nd officer Designated Shipboard Training Officer (DSTO), which sparked my interest in cadet training.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Never turn you back on the ocean, I did this once and the Captain was not impressed.
What’s the best thing about your job?
This has to be watching my cadets graduating and seeing them become the officers of the future.
When you were five what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was brought up in South Africa, so I wanted to be a Springbok rugby player
How do you relax after a hard day’s work?
Spending time with my partner and our 11 month old Labrador pup, Loki.
What do you always carry with you?
My phone is pretty much attached to me.
Sport – do you prefer to do it or watch it?
It’s becoming more watching as my waistline expands!
What’s the most embarrassing thing in your music collection?
Would have to be Spice Girls… why I am admitting that is beyond me!
If you could invite three people to dinner – who would they be and why?
Nelson Mandela – I had the privilege of meeting him a few times as I went to school with his grandchildren, always took the time to speak to us and once when I was six years old – he ‘took my nose’! Was quite annoyed I never got it back.
Vasco Da Gama – I would love to talk to him about exploring the unknown world, no GPS, no charts just the sun and an open sea.
Morgan Freeman – Just so he can narrate the evening.
What would your life motto be?
Be a fruit loop in the world of cheerios.
Who do you most admire and why?
My parents, have always put their kids first and they both continue to inspire me.
What’s the scariest or most dangerous thing you’ve ever had to do?
Cage dive with sharks in South Africa, it’s like being in a meat market… and you’re the meat.
What is your favourite sandwich filling?
You can’t beat a good cheese and ham sandwich.
What’s in your pocket?
Surprise, surprise, as I have just been told by my colleagues, my phone.