Women in Maritime: Sarah Lisy, Isle of Man Ship Registry

Women are an integral part of the maritime workforce, contributing to the success of shipping lines, ports, onshore services and more. 

For the inaugural International Women In Maritime day, IMO, we are continuing with our ‘Isle of Women in Maritime’ series throughout 2022, to show off some of the many fantastic females working in and helping to shape, lead and make an impact in the Isle of Man’s maritime sector.

Our latest interview is with Sarah Lisy, Client Relations and Registration Manager at the Isle of Man Ship Registry.


As a proud Manx woman, Sarah has been an integral part of the Island’s maritime sector for nearly 20 years.

Having begun her maritime career at the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, she joined the Isle of Man Ship Registry back in 2003.  

The path to her current position at the Registry has enabled Sarah to acquire a real breadth of experience across many aspects of day to day registry life, from discussing matters of shared interest with the Red Ensign Group, to completing a course on maritime law (An introduction to Shipping Transactions) and more recently accomplishing Internal EMS Auditor and External QMS Auditor ISO 9001 courses.

As a strong advocate of promoting women in maritime, she has also previously represented the registry for Inspiring Women’s Week. 

In addition to her family and work life, Sarah is also a keen walker and runner as she loves competing and challenging herself. 

So Sarah, with
18 years working in the Island’s maritime sector under your belt, what advice would you give to others who are considering a career in this sector? 

It’s an extremely exciting time to be part of the maritime industry, there’s so much progression taking place both technologically and environmentally, more than there ever has been before. If anyone was considering a career in the maritime sector, I would say now is the perfect time to join.

We’re already a diverse sector, we’re embracing new ideas, we’re looking to the future and, if the last few years have shown us anything, it’s that no matter how much experience you have, we’re all continually learning and adapting. So, as long as you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll find your place in the maritime sector. 

Tell us a bit more about your career at the Isle of Man Ship Registry, what does your typical day look like and do you think this will change much post-pandemic, particularly from a business travel viewpoint? 

I’m very lucky to be working in such a great industry! From my first day to now, no two days have been the same!   

There are two key elements to my current role;  I oversee the registration functions and registry team; ensuring the registration of ships on the Isle of Man’s Ship Register is in line with its national and international obligations, and that the efficiency and quality of service of the Ship Registry is maintained. 

I am also responsible for the Ship Registry’s customer relationship management, creating and nurturing long-term relationships with existing clients and the promotion of the Ship Registry to potential clients. 

What has been the most rewarding part of your career to date and what has been the most challenging?  

When you’re in a client facing role and dealing with different challenges on a daily basis you have to love what you do, and for me the most satisfying part of the job is always helping my clients to find a solution. It also helps that I love a challenge!  

Working for the Ship Registry must have been challenging during 2020 particularly given your role being so client focused, how has it been and how have you and the team coped with such tumultuous and fast-moving change? 

I would say that we were quite fortunate at the Ship Registry, because the work we do internationally requires us to naturally take a strong digital first approach, it was relatively simple to maintain our lines of communication. 

In terms of coping with the pandemic our priorities at the Ship Registry remained the same, ensuring we maintained the best level of service for our clients. We quickly adapted to the new normal, but from a client service perspective we tried to ensure the transition was as seamless as possible. As part of this our contact numbers, response times and main point of contact for clients remained the same.  

Obviously, there were processes and procedures that had to be adapted. At the beginning of the pandemic we quickly introduced the use of remote surveys allowing us to virtually step on board a ship anywhere in the world. This is a service that continues to benefit our clients today.  

Our achievements of 2020 made me incredibly proud to be part of such an adaptable and forward thinking team, and I think all our individuals strengths really showed. 

As someone experienced in managing staff and clients in equal measure, how do you think the future will look for day to day office work and client facing work ? 

Our approach to dealing with clients hasn’t changed, we’ve adapted some of our processes to be carried out remotely if necessary but I don’t see a dramatic change in our day to day.

Digital methods of communication are great; they enable us to connect with people around the world and like many businesses we’ve been reliant on them throughout the pandemic. However, I think what we have learnt is that it’s important to find a balance between the digital and physical workplace, for both clients and staff. We’re all human, and we all benefit from some face to face interaction, it helps us to build stronger relationships and strengthens collaboration. I’ve loved returning to the office and seeing the team again, it’s been brilliant to not have to say the words ‘you’re on mute’! And, I am certainly glad to be meeting with clients again now that exhibitions and events have returned.  

Finally, as a successful woman working within the Island’s maritime sector what do you think the Island’s maritime community should be doing to attract more women to join the sector? 

There’s no denying that the maritime sector is traditionally a male dominated industry, however the tides are definitely turning.

Through the conscious efforts of many businesses and associations across the industry we’re starting to see more women moving into the sector, which is great.  

At the Ship Registry we have equal representation of both men and women, which is something I think we should be quite proud of. Although it must be said the engineering roles are more heavily represented by men, and the administrative roles by women. But, for me the point is there’s progress.

We’ll continue to increase awareness of our sector amongst young ladies looking for a STEM career. I would also hugely encourage any women interested in an engineering career and anyone considering a career change, to take a look at what our sector has to offer; it is a hugely progressive place to be right now.