Meet Helen Bertumen

Helen has been part of the OSM family since 1993! She has offered to share her story and experiences throughout the years within OSM in great detail. Here is her story.

My story at OSM started in Manila in early 1990 in a small office that could accommodate 10-15 people. It is located around Padre Faura, in the heart of Ermita and the company we call OSM Shipping Phils is where I was an employee first. I remember how crowded the first office was. Where our applicants had to stay outside and wait for their turn. We transferred to the ITC building along Gil Puyat Avenue and is much bigger. We again transferred to Paseop De Roxas which was previously a Cuban Embassy when the new manning license issued under Arendal Maritime. Later we changed to Orient Ship Management Phils Inc in 1992.

The following year we moved to Buendia and stayed there for roughly 3 years. On December 1998, we transferred to our current location with the new name, OSM Maritime Services Inc. Today, we have around 600 vessels with over 10,000 employees working both onshore and offshore across 22 offices. As far as I can recall, we were 7 employees at the time when we were fully operational in the first year of operation. As we grew, the number of employees surpassed 300 in Manila alone. I suppose the same is true for our colleagues in Arendal, Norway. 

In the yesteryears, I performed multi-functions. I acted as a liaison officer, telephone operator, telex operator, accounting payroll, family center coordinator, prepared contracts for seafarers when assisting the crewing department as a secretary and sometimes a driver.  Today, I am a Senior P&I Crew Officer.

In all those years, I considered every task a challenge and a new learning experience. With changes in work procedures over time, today, we focus on specialization and the relationship is more on a professional level. We are full of laughter within our inter-personal relationships. For us, work is fun. But as always we are serious in our jobs as we want ÒSM to grow and develop to be one of the best companies in the world.

We also had some parties before. We held them at the rooftop of the OSM office sometimes. Not at the rooftop of the Manila hotel or at the Garden. Not at Manila Garden Peninsula, but at the office backyard where there is a garden. Today, we can afford to have our parties at places where we want them to be held. I suppose Shangri-la is the best example. I believe, we all deserve such amenities after all those years of painstaking effort. We only have a few VIPs on our list that accept our invitations. Today, our guests start from the president of the Republic of the Philippines down to senators, cabinet secretary and administrators, ambassadors, and city councilor. 

I still remember my old but reliable typewriter with a snopake or eraser fluid always beside me. Today, with my computer, word processing is so simple, fast, and very efficient. Who would forget our very first telex machine that we used to send and receive messages before? Now with our lotus notes, one could easily send and receive messages from various OSM personnel and offices including attachments. And don’t forget the Skype! Of course, we have a small xerox machine from when we started but that would pale in comparison with our office equipment of today.

In the field of information technology, e-crew is alien to us. All we had at that time were 201 folders. Even our seamen today could really see and feel the difference in the waiting lounge of the office. In training rooms and training programs, welfare and family center – Truly we have grown leaps and bounds over the years.

From a fledgling enterprise in 1990, we are now known in the maritime industry as a quality minded company providing job opportunities and career development to seafarers with excellent terms and conditions of employment. But we cannot sit on our achievements. We must move forward and face the challenges of tomorrow and secure our place in the market chain. We must strive harder and be dedicated to our work and maintain our loyalty to the company. For tomorrow is another day and OSM is built to last beyond the years of tomorrow.