VIKANDER Profile: Mimi Schuppler, Director of Engagement & Human Sustainability
Mimi Schuppler is passionate about helping organizations and industry deliver results an engaged and diverse workforce represent. Through the lenses of a global citizen—and former seafarer and the experience of working with 40+ nationalities—Mimi draws from her genuine understanding of various cultures, norms, and values to cultivate and develop energized and inclusive organizations wherein individuals thrive, feel connected and valued as their authentic selves.
As Director of Engagement and Human Sustainability, Mimi focuses on building internal employee engagement and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives within VIKAND, as well as partners with the Global Maritime Forum on Human Sustainability and the All Aboard Alliance’s Diversity@Sea workgroup, focusing primarily on improving accessibility, working conditions and safety for female seafarers.
Mimi joined the maritime industry in 1999, managing hotel operations on expedition ships that traveled to Antarctica, Arctic, Melanesia, Australasia, and other remote locations. Prior to VIKAND, she held various management, human resources, and training positions as well as organizing a scientific conference for Technical University of Graz with over 2000 participants. Mimi’s diverse experience also includes working in training and recruitment in education and various sectors before rejoining the maritime industry.
Joining VIKAND two years ago, Mimi initially focused on supporting shipboard medical professionals and clients and strengthening VIKAND’s reputation of putting people first in areas of recruitment, workforce planning, onboarding, and retention.
In her current role—a position that focuses on fostering a culture of care, openness, and collaboration—Mimi reflects on managing VIKAND’s explosive growth. “VIKAND has quadrupled its size in the past two years. We have nearly 400 shipboard and shoreside team members from 38 countries, working on 77 vessels and across five continents.
“We recently launched ONE VIKAND, our internal campaign to enhance employee engagement and collaboration. Our aspirations for ONE VIKAND are to increase the synergy between our shoreside and shipboard teams, improve communication and information distribution throughout VIKAND’s diverse, worldwide workforce, and, by spearheading a culture of continuous learning, cultivate our internal talent.”
Mimi also believes cohesion provides unity for the maritime industry’s diverse workforce around the world and at sea. Cultural competency is vital in today’s work environment, particularly for an industry and companies with a distributed workforce. To improve the employee experience and increase engagement, it’s essential to develop a strategy that maximizes the potential inherent in diversity.
“Historically, the maritime industry has treated its seafarers as a commodity rather than asset,” says Mimi. “While measurable progress is being made in the cruise industry, the commercial sector lags. Collectively, we must all Increase our focus on the well-being of seafarers. This means providing quality care—including physical, mental, and psychological wellness—and ensuring a safe work environment that is free of sexual assault and sexual harassment (SASH) while offering opportunities for the advancement of all regardless of nationality, race, or gender.”
Born in Taiwan, Mimi grew up in the US and has spent the past 20+ years working on ships and living across China, Hong Kong, New Delhi and Graz, Austria. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in hotel management with concentrations in Human Resources, Healthcare Administration and Marketing.
Mimi, with her family and their 3-year-old Lagotto (an Italian truffle dog who also enjoys guarding sheep) live on an organic hobby farm in Southern Styria, Austria, a hidden gem off the tourist track with a plethora of options to connect with nature, be it hiking and mountain biking, or wine tasting at a local vineyard in the highest wine-growing village in Austria!