Part 1: Women in Brokerage
The yachting industry may be considered a male-dominated sector, perhaps due to seafaring being a traditionally masculine pursuit. As times change, however, there has been an upsurge in powerful positions held by women. Female brokers, builders and designers are increasingly cropping up in workforces, boardrooms and CEO offices, as well as masterminding their own boutique businesses. Over the coming weeks, we will speak to some of the most influential women in the sector, both about their personal achievements and their collective experiences.
To kick start our Women in Yachting series, we turn to women in brokerage. Katya Grzeszczak Jaimes, Eleonora Pitasso and Lucrecia Vogogna shed light on what it was that drew them to the trade.
Talking to all three women, it is clear that they harbour a deep-seated passion for their respective careers. For Katya Grzeszczak Jaimes, Sales & Charter Consultant at IYC, the industry is literally a dream come true. “I call it ‘Disney World’,” she jokes, “Yes, it is somewhat removed from the ‘real world’ in terms of the luxury items that we work with, but it is a dream that actually did come true for our clients.”
Certainly, the lifestyle surrounding superyachts is a fantasy realised by few, and Katya’s role in securing that dream is a major draw. She reminisces about one particular deal involving a 55m Heesen that she unexpectedly listed whilst on holiday in her native Moscow: “I immediately flew to Australia to inspect the yacht, and then right away had her sent to Palm Beach Boat Show. She had to cruise halfway around the world on a 9400 mile journey.” The boat made it to the show after an epic 42 day journey, and was promptly sold to a buyer who owns her to this day. It is clear that Katya derives a genuine joy from being the middle (wo)man between the client and their dream yacht.
Eleonora Pitasso, Shipyard Relationship Coordinator and Sales Broker at Burgess, is just as enamoured with an industry that she calls “beautiful, sophisticated and unpredictable”. In what appears to be a general trend, she cites assisting the client in their dream purchase as the thing that attracted her to brokerage: “This job takes time, emotion, concentration and patience, but it offers some of the most rewarding returns.” Throughout Eleonora's 12 year career, she has had the opportunity of working with world-leading design studios, shipyards and industry professionals, but it all eventually boils down to “watching an idea become a reality”.
For Lucrecia Vogogna, Sales Broker at Thompson, Westwood and White Yachts, “unconditional passion about these floating objects” is a prerequisite. Seeing a long awaited project touching the sea for the first time, and delivering said project to owners, is a thrill that she hasn’t tired of in 15 years: “I love the smell of the wood and the metal. My favourite part is seeing the project growing day after day.” Although Lucrecia’s professional development has led her down the avenue of selling (predominantly) motor yachts, her innate passion for the sea is evident in her insistence that “where I really feel myself is sailing with friends and family.”
A love of the sea and proclivity for customer care is something that evidently runs in the veins of these brokers. In part 2, discussion turns to whether they feel that they have been held back by their professional minority.
"This job takes time, emotion, concentration and patience, but it offers some of the most rewarding returns."