Captain, Marine Expert, San Francisco

The first mention of this WOW WOMAN was on a podcast called 99% Invisible. It was titled - Containers. This is not an especially exciting title and I didn't think much about it until Lynn Korwatch was interviewed. Captain Korwatch sailed on an American cargo ship as a first female captain. 1970's and 80's were not the friendliest of times for women sailors, nevermind female captains (I wonder if the times when men at the port ask a female captain if her "husband who is in charge" is on board are still with us). For this WOW WOMAN, when opportunity presented itself, Capt. Korwatch jumped on it. And even though she was 8 months pregnant, "being pregnant is not a handicap or something that should limit opportunities, it's something that happens and you gotta carry on with life" she said "yes, let's go". This trip was epic and you really should listen to the podcast to get a full feel. Fast forward, I'm sitting with Lynn in her office, snapping photos and asking her all about her experiences and inspiring career. She is now head of the San Francisco Marine Exchange - monitoring ships coming and leaving San Francisco Bay - helping efficient trading of commodities and more effective traffic in and out. Well respected in her current role, but further dreaming of more travels and exploring.

1. Name.

Lynn Korwatch

2. Where is your hometown?

Born in San Francisco, live in Alamo, CA

3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?

Executive Director of a non-profit trade association

4. What was the journey like to get where you are (career wise)? When was the mental shift to start the journey?

Attended Cal. Maritime Academy, worked on US Flag ships, worked ashore managing fleet of 14 US flag ships.

5. What did you study in school?

Ships operations

6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?

At age 20, I was attending a community college in the East Bay and I thought that I would be teacher.

7. Biggest accomplishment since making the (physical/mental) move?

Becoming the 1st woman captain of a US commercial vessel.

8. What was biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it?

I have been very fortunate in my life in that disappointments have only been minor and not life changing. That is not to say that there have not been challenges. From job related; discovering that women in the company I worked for had limited advancement opportunities to discovering that my Chief Financial Officer was stealing money from the company. But, I am a strong believer that when one door closes that another one opens. I left the 1st company and landed my current job, which I love!

9. Advice for other women?

Believe in yourself and don't accept being a "second-class citizen" at work or in life.

10. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?

With my family and friends.

11. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?

I volunteer a significant amount of time to Cal Maritime, because while being in the 1st class of women to graduate was a challenge, attending that college was life-changing.

12. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges?

My life is pretty great, and my next stage is to work less and travel more.

13. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?

Despite my success in life, I still often feel that I don't know enough and am not as qualified as others.

14. Anything you'd do differently (if you had another go at life)?

Not really.

15. What inspires you?

The success of other women.

16. What are you hopeful about?

Seeing more women enter the maritime industry.

17. What are some ingredients to a good life?

Laughter, good friends and chocolate!

18. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)

I love detective and mystery novels.

19. Who is a “WOW Woman” in your life who inspires you (and why)?

My mother! She was a single parent for most of my life worked in many interesting jobs, including being a labor mediator for the State of California.

20. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)

Some students from Cal Maritime created a Wikipedia page about me.