Following in dad’s path

Captain Cook Cruises Marine Operations Manager Alifereti Koroilavesau on-board their oldest vessel ‘Ra MARAMA’ at Port Denarau Nadi. Picture: REINAL CHAND

ALIFERETI Koroilavesau always accepts the fact that life is a continuous learning process which enables him to do better as he learns new things every day.

This gentleman from Nalotu, Yawe on Kadavu is the marine operations manager at Captain Cook Cruises on Denarau Island.

A first glimpse of the soft-spoken gentleman and you can never tell that he holds a managerial position because he treats his workers just like his own siblings.

And they would joke around but work was an utmost priority.

These teachings complemented the strict upbringing his father did for him and his siblings when they were young.

But Alifereti’s young life revolved mainly around ships, boats and the sea. It was no doubt that he decided to take up a career path his father once followed as he adopted this love for the sea at a very young age.

He is the son of Fisheries Minister Semi Koroilavesau.

“I was brought up in the company (Captain Cook Cruises) around the time my dad was working on the ships, building them and maintaining them, my dad spent a bit of his career in the navy and from a young age I was affiliated with that as well,” Mr Koroilavesau said.

“After spending some years with the Fiji Navy, he started off with Captain Cook Cruises, I was very much affiliated and it also complemented the fact that we spent most of the school holidays in the village so we have been akin to the ships and the sea from a very young age.”

Straight after completing studies at Lelean Memorial School, the young gentleman joined Sheraton Fiji as a waiter and later as a barman but it was not as easy as it sounded as he had to learn every bits and pieces of the work.

He, however, had to join the military even though he had no intention of doing so as his father told him so and was enlisted straight into the Fiji Navy after a year of tour of duty in Sinai.

He had basically followed his father’s footsteps, trained for two years with the Royal New Zealand Navy where he acquired his grade three as a watch keeper to drive small Pacific patrol boats, later became a navigating officer and an executive officer.

After spending five years in the navy, he decided to leave and pursue a career in academia.

Mr Koroilavesau completed hi Bachelors in Marine Affairs in 2011 at the University of the South Pacific before he went on to do his post-graduate studies and later his Masters.

“In 2015, dad joined Parliament so he asked if I could spend some time for the upbringing and the money he spent on me so I returned to Captain Cook Cruises, started on a three months contract and three months has now turned to three years.

“I have had comprehensive training, both technical and management, I faced challenges and difficulties and one of the main challenges is trying to maintain the old boats we have with us and we maintain our machinery/ ships as much as possible.

“In my department, I have about 50 staff working under me; engineers, welders, security, driver, caretakers, cadets and marine biologists and we all work together as a team.”

Apart from his daily busy schedules, he also looks after the welfare of more than 10 cadets who join them annually from the Fiji Maritime Academy. And being a seafarer, Mr Koroilavesau said it was God’s calling and he had been blessed to have gone through a few career paths to relish his talents and help share his experience to fellow workmates, particularly to young Fijians.

Despite always being caught up with work, Mr Koroilavesau always finds time to spend with his wife and four children as they have always been his pillar of strength.

And one of the greatest things about his work that he acknowledged so much is his passion and accepting that he was never an expert in his field and he will always continue to do better when he learns new things from his other work colleagues.

His advice to young Fijians is “Dream and dream big, don’t have any limitation in what you think you can do, you must dream big without limitations”.

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