Fascinating career lessons from the superyacht industry

A superyacht is the pinnacle of luxury. With extravagant features such as cinemas, spas, and infinity pools, round-the-clock maintenance to keep the yacht spotless at all times, and a staff that is ready to make any request their uber-wealthy passengers make come true, it’s easy to find the world of superyachts fascinating and to wonder about what goes on behind the scenes. 

Bravo’s “Below Deck,” a reality show that chronicles the lives of the crew members of a megayacht, shows one aspect of the equation. But there are hundreds of different roles that keep the industry growing: boat show organizers, designers, etc. And, surprisingly, the world of yachting holds career wisdom that can apply to anyone in any field.

The six career lessons below will inspire you to run a tight ship and make waves at work. 

Stretch the limits of your resourcefulness

Yes, the people who pay millions of dollars to buy or charter superyachts have high expectations. And when you find yourself in the middle of the sea with a guest who has a craving for something only available on land, resourcefulness takes on a new meaning.

The next time you are faced with career constraints, remember that working around seemingly large limitations can lead to the most creative solutions. 

Increase your timeliness and responsiveness

Stressed about a tight deadline or a demanding client? In the yachting world, every turnaround is a quick one and the client needs always come first. Aim to be quicker and more responsive and watch your performance increase. 

“Our clientele is amongst the most discerning and demanding in the world, expecting the best possible results with no delay. At Boatsters Black we are on call 24/7/365, very often working late into the night on contracts or to find creative solutions to inevitable issues, as well as on weekends and during holidays. We have to be available when our clients have free time on their hands to discuss such matters,” says Thomas O’Nial, the commercial director of Boatsters Black, a digitally-driven superyacht sales and charter company.  

Look for indirect ways to access mentoring

Mentorship opportunities are everywhere. From attending conferences and grabbing five minutes with a speaker post-talk to noticing how impressive professionals carry themselves, focus on seizing the learning opportunities around you. In the yacht industry, these often take the shape of conversations with thought leaders.  

“Most of the people we have access to are usually considered inaccessible. I have had the privilege to spend time and develop relationships with people — who are shaping the world of today and tomorrow — and to pick their brains and understand how they operate. It is truly fascinating,” says O’Nial. 

Take the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor

How often do you pause to take in all your accomplishments and celebrate your hard work? “For me, the most fun aspect is the pleasure of driving what I draw,” says yacht designer Baran Akalin. “When you design a project, you create something from nothing. This is quite satisfying in itself.”

And beyond enjoying the result of your efforts, it’s also important to remember why you work in the first place. “At the end of the day what is important, and what our clients are really buying via owning or chartering a superyacht, are the little things which make life special: spending private and quality time with close ones,” says O’Nial. 

Perseverance is the name of the game

Akalin started his career as an architect before studying industrial design. He fell in love with the art of conceptualizing boats but the only boat design class in his master’s program got canceled. All his teachers told him he would have to complete a doctorate, then learn how to design boats in the field, except for one mentor who took him aside and told him about a school in Italy. This shaped Akalin’s career, who went on to open his own studio in Istanbul and work with clients worldwide while teaching yacht design in university. 

“The superyacht industry is a very niche industry that has no set entry path. It requires dedication, hard work, and perseverance, as there is a steep learning curve and results are not guaranteed,” says O’Nial. 

So take a cue from this exclusive industry and remember that if you truly want to pursue something, even if it’s very specific and limited, it is possible to work your way into it. 

Broaden your horizons on a regular basis

Do you have hobbies? Are you curious about the world? Having varied interests can shape the direction of your career and inspire you to produce your best work. “I have been playing drums for more than 15 years and have seen so many benefits from it,” says Akalin. 

“I have traveled to six continents to meet clients, discovering new places and cultures in the process. Negotiating a major sale with a Russian, Chinese or Mexican client can really give you insights into how different cultures impact one’s vision of the world,” says O’Nial.