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International Women's Day: Claire Hosking of Dover rises to the top at DFDS

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A woman who cleaned toilets on her first day with her ferry company is now in its senior management.

Claire Hosking, who is still only 30, rose to the top in nine years.

Claire Hosking. Picture: DFDS
Claire Hosking. Picture: DFDS

Her story of female success is highlighted today, International Women's Day with the 2021 theme Choose to Challenge.

Mrs Hosking, who attended Astor College in Dover, joined DFDS at the port as a part timer in 2012.

She had that year graduated from Greenwich University with a financial maths degree.

She now has a full-time international career, based at the company's headquarters in Denmark.

She says: "For my first day, I was cleaning toilets and my purser saw me and said: 'You have too much of a sunny disposition to be cleaning toilets.”’

One of the DFDS fleet, Côtes des Dunes, outside Dover where Mrs Hosking was based
One of the DFDS fleet, Côtes des Dunes, outside Dover where Mrs Hosking was based

Mrs Hosking's duties in those early days involved living on ships for a two-weeks on two-weeks off rotation and her work involved cleaning, cash transactions with customers and food service on the cafés.

Her first step upwards happened when a more senior member of staff found her analysing data, trying to forecast sales, in her down time on board.

Mrs Hosking said: ‘When you’re on nights there’s not much to do, especially if you have maybe only five cars on board.

"I got a paper to do mental exercises, trying to work out how forecasting sales worked to get the brain juices going.

"Somebody came into the bar and I told them what I was doing and two days later someone put a job advert for a business analyst in front of me. I was in the right place at the right time."

'I worked 80-hour weeks. I was so committed,' Claire Hosking

Mrs Hosking applied for the post at the DFDS Whitfield office and succeeded.

She had responsibility for the UK and after a year took on the European side as well, which carried on until 2018 when she undertook a major project in DFDS’s headquarters in Denmark.

She explained: “I was flying backwards and forwards to Copenhagen, working 80-hour weeks.

"I worked so hard because I was so committed to the project.

She was offered a promotion in Copenhagen and moved there with her husband two and a half years ago.

DFDS is committed to equal opportunities
DFDS is committed to equal opportunities

During her current role as head of revenue, Channel, Mrs Hosking succeeded in gaining a place in DFDS’s Horizon internal talent programme.

A total 600 applied at the outset and she made it to the last three.

She said: "I felt that talent programme was a real big achievement. DFDS has been fantastic. I am a head of department and supported every step of the way.

"I feel incredibly fortunate and grateful for the journey I have had."

Gemma Griffin MBE, head of global crewing, is on the DFDS inclusivity and diversity panel, which aims to increase opportunities for women in the company.

Gemma Griffin of DFDS. Picture: Dover District Council
Gemma Griffin of DFDS. Picture: Dover District Council

She said: "Claire’s career is what International Women’s Day is all about at DFDS.

"As new recruits come into the industry, we would be limiting ourselves if we did not adapt to make it work for women who after all make up half the population.

" It was clear from the start that Claire was a real talent and it has been a joy to watch her grow.

" She is a role model for other women in the organisation and we are very proud of her."

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