Superyacht industry veteran Ken Hickling, best known for his role as global manager for business development at AkzoNobel’s yacht division and 2012 to 2014 presidency of the International Superyaht Society (ISS), has joined Viking Recruitment and sister company the Maritime Skills Academy as non-executive director.
‘Sister’ company is a particularly appropriate term in this case, as the Viking group is known by its tagline ‘A family of companies’, which emphasises the importance of the family-run aspect of the company and subsequently the gravitas of this announcement.
Speaking to SuperyahtNews at the Monaco Yacht Show, Manging Director Matthew Jaenicke explained the new addition was not a decision taken lightly. “Dieter [Jaenicke, chairman and founder] and Ken have known each other for a long time. This all comes down to one thing: trust.”
Hickling, who works in superyacht consultancy with company Sherpa 63, has said he is looking forward to a movement away from the corporate business world into the smaller, family-run company. His role has been announced as a dual one, comprising the development of the companies’ internal capabilities and acting as company ambassador. Hickling’s latter role as a representative of and for the company at various industry events, associations and committees means chairman and founder Dieter Jaenicke can take a step back from this aspect of the company.
In order to succeed you need to change the way you do certain things, but they are very sure they don’t want to change the way they do things for their customers.
Speaking exclusively to SuperyachtNews, Hickling explains this move is about the Viking group of companies being successful in business and expanding but not wanting to change the tailored service they give to their clients. “They’ve very successfully grown over recent years and they’re now a big organisation. In order to succeed you need to change the way you do certain things, but they are very sure they don’t want to change the way they do things for their customers. So we’ll keep what we do for the customer, and find ways to be more effective,” says Hickling.
The non-executive director, who will be at Viking’s Dover complex one day a month, but throughout the month will be at various other locations and events, takes this opportunity to assure this move is about the good health of the company. “This is not a business in trouble in any way. It’s in rude health, it’s expanding.”
This new phase for the company, which SuperyachtNews ascertained at the Monaco Yacht Show and reported on its live blog, comes at an exciting time. The month prior to the Monaco Yacht Show saw the official industry opening of the Maritime Skills Academy, an impressive UK training complex for superyacht and other maritime crew. The training facility is, at the time of writing, the only one worldwide to offer Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)-accredited Helicopter Fire Fighting course with Maritime Aviation Support & Training (MAST).