Part 2: 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.
In part 1, we were fortunate enough to speak with female brokers Katya Grzeszczak Jaimes, Eleonora Pitasso and Lucrecia Vogogna. This week, they share their thoughts about the male-dominated nature of the superyacht industry.
When quizzed on the subject, IYC Consultant Katya draws attention to an interesting dichotomy: The sales side of brokerage is predictably male dominated, whereas the charter side is the opposite. Although she is quick to confirm that she has never encountered anything but respect from her male counterparts, Katya attributes this bifurcation in brokerage to a macro level industrial bias that privileges men in sales and religates women to the lower price point of the charter market, where there is arguably ‘less at stake’.
“Yacht sales can be very intense and stressful, and require ‘thicker skin’ than that which is traditionally attributed to more ‘emotional’ females,” Kayta says. Her attitude is far from defeatist, however, considering this bias a welcome challenge which she knows she is equipped to handle. “Women are increasingly getting into high-powered arenas and securing senior positions in traditionally male dominated areas,” says Katya, “This is certainly an indication of change.”
Burgess powerhouse Eleonora, despite conceding that there is weight behind the claim of the industry as being male dominated, insists that she has never found her gender to be disadvantageous: “I believe that when professionalism, passion and trust between you and your company are present, the opportunity to grow will come. The individual, either male or female, can evolve in a successful role.”
Eleonora joined Burgess in 2015 as a charter manager, and in three short years has risen to the position of yacht broker. She is a bona fide success story of ‘making it’ in a male dominated industry. If her experience is anything to go by, then we have reached a gratifying point where preconceptions about female ‘emotion’ versus male ‘level headedness’ are no longer relevant, and yachting professionals are judged solely on individual merit.
Lucrecia’s experiences of being a woman in brokerage echoes this. She concurs that the superyacht industry is largely male-dominated, having experienced some measure of this during her career: “Sometimes I have not been listened to, or been asked to get a coffee in the middle of discussion!” However, Lucrecia feels that there is onus on the individual to prove themself, irrespective of gender, as it is personal relationships and industry knowledge that are fundamental in brokerage. “I had some difficulties, but at the end of the day it is the trust that we create with our clients that makes the difference,” she tells us, “This goes beyond gender.”
Lucrecia, who works for renowned firm TWW Yachts, firmly believes that a fair-minded approach is replacing biased stereotypes about the abilities of men and women. “Slowly, the whole perception of female involvement is changing,” she says, “With consciousness and passion, we are winning further steps in the industry.”
Despite a mixed bag of experiences, talking to Katya, Eleonora and Lucrecia has yielded an overwhelmingly positive vision for the future of yachting. Next week, we will be talking to high profile women about their experience in yacht design.
"Women are increasingly getting into high-powered arenas and securing senior positions in traditionally male dominated areas. This is certainly an indication of change."