Meet the Crew: Svetlana Kiščenko
From finance to a life at sea
By Vilma Songailaite
Aiste Tunaityte and I in Klaipeda have interviewed colleagues that work on our Baltic routes to share an authentic glimpse into the work on board the ferries. The interviews show that everyone plays an important role in the operation to ensure an excellent customer experience. Every other week, we will share an interview so you can get to know your colleagues a little better.
Svetlana Kiščenko, who previously worked as a financial professional, started her career as a chef after her professional life took a 180-degree turn. She claims it was the best thing that ever happened to her. Every day, Svetlana delights the crew and passengers on Optima Seaways with her mouth-watering dishes while travelling between Klaipeda and Karlshamn. And on special occasions, she treats them to her hand-made cakes. She is known for her infectious energy and youthful exuberance.
Starting a career on sea by accident
I started my maritime career quite by accident. First, I started working as a cook on land. I worked in several catering establishments. Later, I unexpectedly got an invitation to work aboard a Russian ship that was berthed in Klaipėda for five months. I cooked for a crew of 35 people. In the end, they asked me to go to sea with them, but it turned out that they could not hire me as I was not a Russian citizen. However, this marked the start of my maritime career as a cook. Of course, the first ship, like the first man, is stuck in your memory forever.
I see my job as something I never get tired of. I work 28 days on, 28 days off. When I work, I forget about my home life and fully devote myself to my work, and when I am at home, I never think about my work. So, I never get tired of these two modes of life.
Keeping in balance
I love Sweden and its nature. I can firmly say it is my dream place to live. There is a forest close to the port. Now, when we are in the grip of the coronavirus, we are not allowed to leave the ferry but before the pandemic, when the ship was berthed in the port, we could look around the city, and when we were in Klaipėda, we could even return home.
Walks in the nature really inspires me and recharge my energy levels. There is an old oak in a forest I often visit. Spending time besides this oak refreshes your mind and soul. There are also mushrooms there. I bring some of them with me and treat the crew to mushroom dishes.
In my free time in Lithuania, I enjoy mushroom hunting. I try to spend time outdoors as much as possible. I don’t need to travel. Lithuania is the best place for me to rest. Lithuania is actually very beautiful. There is plenty to see and explore.
The joy of working
My greatest source of joy is my work. Although others may find it strange, I do not want to retire. Frankly, I would like to work for as long as my health permits, and now my health is great. I probably inherited this from my father who worked until he was 74. He always said that he would not want to spend his days just sitting at home.
For me, a month of shore leave is the time when you can rediscover your love for your job. While I cook lots of delicious meals for others, I prefer to eat simple food and when I return home, I stop cooking altogether for some time.