7th March 2022, New York – Christina DeSimone is the CEO and founder of Future Care, An International SOS Company. Future was the first Global Telemedical and case management service to care for seafarers in the commercial maritime industry, both at sea and onshore. Defying a clear gender imbalance within the industry, the entrepreneur from Brooklyn has succeeded in creating a multimillion-dollar business, now employing over 150 people and firmly established within the International SOS group of companies.
Christina’s family have an association with the commercial maritime world that goes back for over 100 years, with a family longshore business that used to load and unload ships coming into the Brooklyn Navy yard.
Shortly after WW2, the business closed, as many ships went bankrupt and so her father moved into the field of rehabilitation, helping children with severe disabilities.
Her father, Anthony DeSimone, worked side-by-side with Henry ‘Hank’ Viscardi, a double amputee who was widely praised for the advances he made in the care of severely disabled people. Together they led a movement across the United States, politically advocating on behalf of disabled children for better access to mainstream education.
As a child Christina would regularly accompany Hank and Anthony, spending the day with the other children and learning about how rehabilitation could reshape their outlook on life. She continued to volunteer with Hank until the age of 23 and says that he “was an inspirational man with such charisma and drive, he improved the lives of so many and never saw his disability as a hindrance”
These two figures were instrumental in Christina developing a strong sense of empathy and compassion that would set her on course to working in this field, combining the maritime and healthcare aspects of her early childhood.
Starting off her career in the 1970s within corporate environments she often saw male counterparts being given promotions over women and so Christina was always sensitive to the glass ceiling, realizing early on that starting her own company would be the best way to bring her ideas and passion to life.
She established her first company ‘DeSimone Rehabilitation Services’, in 1978 to assist land-based workers suffering from injury and illness at work by communicating between insurance firms, companies and the workers themselves.
Following the commercial success of the company, at the age of 40, Christina sold ‘DeSimone Rehabilitation Services’ and went on to found Future Care, now one of the most adopted telemedical services in the commercial maritime world.
“It was the challenge that brought me to shipping. I had a tried and tested solution for land-based workers, but I wanted to apply this to the Maritime world, a global community of different people and cultures that has always interested me. I guess you could say that it was also in my blood!”
She says that “Although there is a clear gender imbalance within shipping and maritime, being a woman has fortunately never hindered me in this respect. Many of the P&I Clubs I had previously worked with had seen my results firsthand and were therefore eager to work with Future Care.
“Despite this, it is estimated that only 2% of seafarers are women, similarly at board level women are often less represented. While this has certainly improved over the last 10 years, there clearly remains much work to be done in addressing gender imbalances in order to make the industry more appealing for women, both at sea and shoreside”.
Christina credits the commercial success she has had not only to her entrepreneurial spirit and innate drive but also to her father and other positive male role models, “who were key in helping me understand that there are always good guys out there that will help you to keep moving forward”.
Looking ahead, Christina has ambitious plans to continue growing the Future Care business and extending the service across the maritime world, ‘the effects of the pandemic will continue to be felt for years to come, not only on physical health, but also mental health which as we all know is it an all-time low for seafarers. My goal is to keep spreading the word about Future Care and ensuring that as many mariners as possible have access to our expert medical care and support, wherever they are in the world, whether at sea or at shore”.