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A Hands-on Leader at the Helm, ISE President and CEO Scott Marshall

President Scott Marshall has led ISE through the pandemic, developed a new and ambitious strategic plan, and, more than anything, continued to enlist a growing number of SASers in helping shape and secure the future of our one-of-a-kind program

A month into his new job in Japan, Scott found himself on skis for the first time in his life at the top of a beautiful mountain with his Japanese co-workers. Having been hired to teach English to students after finishing his undergraduate studies, he was on a group outing with mostly non-English speaking peers and was about to make his first-ever attempt to downhill ski–and this while facing a black diamond run. 

“It was a recipe for disaster of the physical and emotional variety,” the president and CEO of the Institute for Shipboard Education told ISE staff at last August’s all-staff retreat in Fort Collins, Colorado. “But it was also, as we all know given what we do, a hugely important opportunity for me to learn about myself.” 

Scott survived his first day on the slopes largely due to the kindness and patience of new colleagues who patiently mimed how to alter his stance and stayed with him after nearly every mogul sent him tumbling.

While the experience didn’t inspire a passion for downhill skiing, it opened Scott’s eyes to the kind of life he wanted to lead – one where he was intentionally persisting in the face of the unknown, learning from challenges, working across cultures, and, most of all, trusting in the kindness and compassion of others. 

Fast forward many years later, it is those same intentions that led Scott to a teaching role on the Semester at Sea Spring 2017 Voyage. He’s been connected to the organization ever since–and leading it since January 2020. 

Scott often says, “There’s a reason there’s only one Semester at Sea.” There are many challenges that come with leading a floating college that travels to 10 or more countries twice each year. But the rewards are innumerable, and the mission is incredibly important. 

“My primary responsibility is the long-term success of the organization. But that success isn’t something I can achieve alone,” he says. It takes ISE teammates, SAS alumni, Board of Trustees members, the ship’s crew, and many others. 

“And that’s what makes this job so fulfilling—those people and our shared passion for this program. We know what it can do for voyagers and, through them, what it can do for the world.” 

All these years after that first ski trip, Scott is still leaning into challenges and looking to colleagues and the SAS community to join him on the ride ahead. 

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