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How did you get started?


I completed a Double Degree in Marketing and Management at Curtin University in Australia and am now currently studying for the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) qualification exams.

I was previously employed as an intern at Roy Hill, one of Australia’s major iron ore exporters. I was working in the Business Improvement and Organisation Effectiveness space, but I didn’t feel like this role was for me. One day I decided to go upstairs and chat to the marketing team about this (who happened to sit next to the Shipping/Chartering department). The Manager of Shipping overheard my conversation and asked if I would be interested in giving shipping a go. I was – and I haven’t looked back since!

I was approached directly by Clarksons to see if I was interested in coming to work at the company and I was! I joined Clarksons in August 2018.

What awareness did you have of the industry before joining?

I knew nothing, nor anyone in the shipping industry when I first began. I fell into it completely by accident, but I’ve loved every day since. Straight away, I really enjoyed how niche the industry is in Western Australia, how everyone knows each other, and how there is a real sense of community. Plus, I love talking, I love learning and I love meeting new people, which are all things you do a lot of as a broker, so I knew this was the right place for me.

Natalia Topalovic

What does your current role involve?

When I first came to work at Clarksons, I was working in operations. I spent almost two years working as an operator before becoming a dry bulk broker in Australia in February 2020.

I work closely with a lot of the mining companies within Western Australia. The majority of the smaller mining houses here don’t have a dedicated freight/shipping contact, so they rely heavily on the brokers to explain how the freight market works. One of my favourite parts of the job is working with new mining companies, from assisting with their feasibility studies to helping them set up their shipping programme.

What does it take to be successful in your role?


Mark Rowland (MD of Clarksons in Australia) told me that a great broker has to have grit, and I’ve resonated with that ever since. As a broker – especially a junior broker – you get knocked back pretty frequently, but the people who do well are the ones who continue to persevere despite the obstacles in their way.

From a personal perspective, a successful day for me is when I go home feeling like I’ve added value somewhere or to someone. I love so many parts of my job – fixing cargo is great, so is helping new miners set up their shipping programmes, meeting new and wonderful people, and travelling.

Before starting out in my career, I knew that I wanted a job that I love and to work with people that inspire me. Working for Clarksons has given me just that! The team here in Perth is phenomenal – we are always striving to be the best at what we do whilst also having a laugh. It makes every day enjoyable.


My advice to someone considering a role as a shipbroking would be: learn to love learning. In shipping, every day is different, and every size, trade and commodity is different too. As a broker, you need to keep up. The industry is continuously changing, but I think that makes the role all the more exciting.

If you're not sure what to do, give the opportunities that are presented to you a try. You don’t know if you like something unless you give it a go. If it’s not ticking your boxes, try the next thing.

Surround yourself with mentors! David Kelly from Roy Hill really helped me get to where I am today. David introduced me to the shipping world and patiently taught me the basics. Although it’s been years since we worked together, he’s still teaching me things and giving me advice.

First 'Women in shipping' sundowner event

Back in November I hosted the first ‘Women in Shipping’ sundowner event in Perth, Australia. The evening was tailored towards women who work in dry bulk shipping in the region and provided a great opportunity to get together and discuss business and make new contacts over drinks and nibbles.

The event was well received, as demonstrated by the fantastic turnout - we had 42 attend - not bad for a mining town! Monson Agencies, Clarksons and CBH Group kindly sponsored for the evening.

I would like to extend a big thank you to all the ladies who attended, to Monique Costantino and Pia Maria van Wyngaard, as well as to our generous sponsors. The evening was a huge success and I know I am not alone when I say I am already looking forward to the next one.

I hope that, in time, these events will help us to build a real sense of community amongst women in shipbroking in Western Australia and that we continue to see new faces join us as we share our experiences and strengthen our professional networks.

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Women in shipping film series

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Trainee broker programme

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