When Pooja Chathoth started making choices about her future, she knew she did not want a 9-5 desk-based job. It’s one of the main reasons why she opted for a career as a ship surveyor working for LR, ensuring that vessels are built and maintained according to all relevant regulations and class rules.

Chathoth was interested in the sea from a young age and as she got older started looking at options for a career in maritime. A degree in naval architecture appeared to offer a good route and included a design component that appealed to Chathoth. She studied the subject at Sree Narayana Gurukulam College of Engineering in Kerala, and after four years graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 2020. She then joined a marine and offshore design company as a trainee naval architect.

But Chathoth wanted a more physically active profession and started to look at other careers that would utilise her degree.

“I like to be physically involved in a job and I really enjoy getting out and away from a desk for the majority of the day” she explains.

A chat with a chief officer (a friend of her father's) sparked the idea of becoming a surveyor and so, after reaching out to some surveyors to find out more, Chathoth applied to LR.

“As the oldest classification society, I learnt about LR whilst I was studying for my degree in naval architecture. It’s still one of the world’s leading societies and so it was the obvious choice when considering where to apply.” After a few rounds of interviews she was offered a position. “It was a wonderful moment and I recall my parents being so proud when they first saw me in my boiler suit with the LR logo.”

Like all recruits pursuing a career in surveying with LR, Chathoth was required to complete a two-year on-the -job training programme. Trainees accompany a senior member of the team who guides and teaches them how to carry out the job. Chathoth received material, equipment and components survey training in Mumbai and new construction survey training Kochi and Goa, all in India. Existing ship survey training, meanwhile, was delivered in Vizag (India) and also Singapore, where technical support office training was also delivered. “My colleagues at LR were so supportive during my training and it was a wonderful experience,” she says.

Chathoth has now been with LR for nearly two and a half years and is a graduate surveyor qualified to work independently. She has received on-site training in variety of vessel types including general cargo ships, LNG and LPG carriers and floating production storage and offshore (FPSO) vessels. These include existing ship and conversion projects.

Further, she is currently working as a site surveyor at Chowgule shipyard in Goa on a hybrid-type general cargo newbuild. It is the second vessel in a series of 12.

It’s certainly no desk job and much of her time in spent on site. “Physical fitness is required because for each survey we attend, we examine each nook and corner of the vessel outside and in,” she explains. “Sometimes we have to climb up ladders to reach all parts of the vessel, or confined spaces or work over water.” Chathoth enjoys these aspects of the job, but acknowledges that “if you have a fear of heights, or don’t like being in a dark room or small space, then I imagine it would be a difficult”.

Hours can be antisocial too, she adds, as measurements can only be taken at certain times – early morning and late evening – to allow for thermal expansion that occurs during the warmer hours of the day.

But for Chathoth, none of this matters. She enjoys the travel and the opportunities that the role brings. “I’ve had so much support during every step of my career, from my employers including LR, and my family.” She is looking forward to continuously upskilling and improving her knowledge as her career in class progresses.