Spotlight on Aditi Garg, Group Legal Counsel

Spotlight on Aditi Garg, Group Legal Counsel
Published 11 Mar 2024

On the occasion of the UN’s International Women’s Day in March, we’re delighted to be highlighting the significant contributions of women across our business.

One of our senior leaders is Ms Aditi Garg, who oversees the legal department for The Caravel Group, including FLEET.  Read on to learn more on Aditi’s experiences navigating her career to date, and her advice for other women.

Tell us about your background and career journey before joining The Caravel Group?

Since graduating university in 2005 and joining the workforce, I’ve reinvented myself quite a bit. I began as a corporate lawyer, putting long hours in Indian law firms, for seven years. My focus areas were private equity, and M&A.

I took a career break for two years, when I had my first child and moved countries to Singapore. When my children were still very young, I worked as an in-house lawyer for a commodities house. Even though this was a part-time role, it was challenging since I was the first lawyer the company had hired and as their sole counsel, I was responsible for putting in place policies,  SOPs as well as creating templates  to bring in certainty and efficiency while managing legal risk.

When I had my second child, I took six months’ maternity leave, which was partially unpaid, and then continued to work part-time when my children were young. The company was very supportive and this was a great motivating factor in turning up and working hard each day.

Later on, when my husband was transferring to Hong Kong for his job, I was handed down yet another opportunity to expand my horizons. While I was initially reluctant to move to Hong Kong and step out of my new comfort zone, my hesitation soon vanished, when I came across a job opening in The Caravel Group and spoke to the senior leaders here.

How long have you been with us and what has your experience been like?

I’ve now spent 5 ½ great years with The Caravel Group – the first two years were in Hong Kong, then the rest has been based in our Singapore office.

My role has evolved over time, and our COO Angad sometimes jokes that if we were to hire my replacement, we would have to completely rewrite my original job description. When I first started, I mostly worked on Caravel Shipping and the chartering business, including managing any disputes and providing some support for FLEET. When management saw the value that I was providing to this, my role and responsibilities grew exponentially.

I support all the business divisions, and subsidiaries of the Group across all geographies. The work itself is very diverse and interesting due to the nature of the various business activities – from asset management to commodities trading to maritime, including of course FLEET.

Within FLEET, my legal colleagues and I negotiate contracts with owners, suppliers, and play a significant role in high-stakes projects such as EU ETS compliance. We also support with joint ventures, such as TransWorld Fleet Management and MaruFleet, and the HR and FPD departments on employment matters, which becomes particularly interesting considering the geographical reach of our operations and offices across different countries. I’ve also worked on projects such as the Group’s investment in Young Master as well as in various funds.

I do a lot of different things each day, and that’s what makes me love the job – it never gets boring, and the quality of the projects we’re working on are amazing because of the breadth, depth and diversity of the Group.

In recent years, I’ve been able to commit more time to sustainability at work, through being appointed Chair of the ESG Committee. Sustainability topics are dear to my heart and play a large role in the way I choose to live my life – for example, I personally watch my own carbon footprint and am conscious of my day-to-day choices. I’m grateful that being at Caravel has given me the opportunity to work outside my initial subject matter expertise of law, to grow my knowledge and experience in the ESG field.

You’re one of the senior female leaders within Caravel. What advice do you have for colleagues supporting others at work?

I think it’s very important for women to have role models and success stories to look up to. In a company, women should make sure they play that role for others – to be a mentor to other women around you, and to do what you can to help them in their professional journey.

For example, when one of my team members joined FLEET, she was pregnant within three months and then soon afterwards had to go on bed rest. We supported her though that journey, including after she delivered her baby and returned to work, while still needing to nurture and feed her child. I don’t have a big team, so I empower and support my team members in the way I consider right, including providing practical measures to enable them to produce the high quality of work required. In this way, helping another out also improves my life at work – it’s a win-win.

What other advice would you have for women?

If you think you have to be 100% full time throughout your entire career and not take any career breaks at all, you may give out. We are not machines, and a career is a marathon, not a sprint – we don’t always have to be running at a certain pace. Pace out your career journey so you don’t burn.

On balancing motherhood and careers, take time to think through what will work for you. There is no single solution for all, and there are difficult decisions to make. For me, because I love what I do, it was important to stay involved in the world of work and to not give up my career when I had children.

If you are able to and would like to, of course you should take time out, or go part-time or whatever makes sense to you, but remember, you may also wish to think about how you can avoid closing career doors for yourself. The early years of motherhood are tough. However, for most mums, once the kids are at school, you will find you have a lot more time too – and so staying connected to, or involved in the world of work during those early parenting years – is something that mattered to me and ultimately proved the right path for me.

My final bit of advice is to enjoy your job, never stop learning and, at the same time, to enjoy your life around it as much as possible, throughout the various twists and turns and stages of your career.

Wishing everyone a very happy International Women’s Day.