With an inherent passion for yachting and the French Riviera, Liz Cox, partner at Cecil Wright & Partners, has been able to spend her career thus far combining her passion for both. Cox’s experience within the yachting industry spans across crew recruitment, brokerage and yacht management – all of which demonstrate the fantastic skillset she has acquired, and her wide breadth of knowledge across the industry.
On International Women’s Day, Cox has shared some words of wisdom with SuperyachtNews, for both those within the industry and those at the beginning stages of their journey. “Always push yourself to work outside of your comfort zone and where there is an opportunity to try something new, in a different department, go for it! Having an understanding of different areas of any industry will only enhance your knowledge and empathy when you find your perfect position later down the line,” Cox begins. “Never be fearful to ask questions so that you keep learning."
"Having an understanding of different areas of any industry will only enhance your knowledge and empathy when you find your perfect position later down the line" - Liz Cox, Partner - Cecil Wright & Partners
When asked whether her professional journey thus far has ever been more challenging than the men in similar roles to her, Cox agreed that this has certainly been the case; “When first starting out in yacht management, it was not so noticeable, but once I had started to move up and try to get into senior management, the opportunities (both in terms of role definition, promotion, and financial) were definitely more limited. Up until now, I feel like I’ve always had to prove myself more than any male counterpart would."
Cox’s passions are yachting and travel, and this is part of what has motivated and driven Cox throughout her career. But there is another driving force. “I would also say that I am passionate about striving for perfection, and providing the best level of service I can, whether that be to a captain, my boss or the ultimate client,” Cox continues.
“When things have become challenging, I have learnt to take a step back, breathe and remind myself how I have got to where I am. I try to take control of my emotion and channel it rather than let it overwhelm – it doesn’t always work though! I’m lucky to have worked with some amazing captains and brokers who have given me the confidence to keep going."
One of the highlights of Cox’s career was when she was working on the Sherpa explorer yacht project. “The project started as a simple support vessel but quickly morphed into a full explorer superyacht with the most detailed interior, even for a Feadship. We had quite a few challenges along the way but we had such a great team that we knew anything was possible,” recalls Cox, emphasising the group effort of all individuals working on the project.
“The camaraderie between all the different teams involved (including lawyers, owner’s team, shipyard teams, designers and crew) was exceptional, and it was wonderful to be involved with people who had so much respect for each other’s areas of expertise."
Fortunately, Cox was able to work on such a fantastic project as Sherpa. But when looking more broadly at the number of women that hold senior positions within the yachting industry, it is safe to say that this number is far lower than it could be. “It depends on which part of the industry you are looking at, but when you look at the many yacht management companies or large brokerage houses, then there are too few women in senior positions. I do believe, and hope, that this will change for the better in the future," says Cox. "Luckily our founder, Chris Cecil-Wright, is hugely supportive of this, and this is reflected within the company."
"I am encouraged to see more and more females considering the deck and engineering routes, and speaking out about the benefits on social media"
If we consider how this change could possibly come about, perhaps we need to start at the very beginning, by encouraging more women to consider a career in yachting as a realistic career path. “Like many things, it’s all about timing and being in the right place at the right time. That said, I am encouraged to see more and more females considering the deck and engineering routes, and speaking out about the benefits on social media. Hopefully, in time, we will see this continue into land-based roles and see it become the norm, rather than the exception,” Cox adds.
Having reported on the efforts being made by organisations such as She of the Sea, it is inspiring to know that there are individuals making waves within the industry. “There are some great initiatives happening and gender equality is starting to get some momentum, with many of the current generation of captains understanding the importance of mentoring crew and hiring the right crewmember, regardless of gender. Change will take time, but I honestly believe real change has started, and with more and more women being recognised in the industry, both on board and ashore, things can only get better,” concludes Cox.
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