In conversation with Paul Cook
We catch up with Hill Robinson COO Paul Cook, who shares his thoughts on how the company sets itself apart in the industry, the importance of teamwork and sustainability…
A member of the Hill Robinson executive team, Paul Cook joined the company earlier this year as chief operating officer. An industry expert himself, Paul explains that he appreciates the longevity of Hill Robinson in the superyacht world – the brand recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. “For us, it's a really, really exciting time. The company's grown but we've still got that core value that we've always had: totally understanding what our clients need and approaching everything as a team.”
The team has increased exponentially since its inception but prides itself on the relationships it has built since 2001. “One of the most pleasing things for us is the clients that have been with us from the start. We have three captains who we have worked with since day one and several owners have been with us for 10 to 15 years.” Paul shares that Hill Robinson currently works with an owner who has both their original and latest yacht in the fleet, along with the first captain the company hired. The owner has operated and project managed a new build with the team and continues to utilise the full complement of Hill Robinson’s services.
Unlike common practices in the yacht management sphere, Hill Robinson employs a holistic approach that they call ‘client service teams’ which has a focal point of contact, but draws on the collective knowledge of all departments. “These teams provide the best solutions for our clients. We found that by enhancing our own systems and procedures, appointing a dedicated Yacht Manager, and supporting specialists we can ensure a smooth running and operation for the yacht 365 days of the year,” remarks Paul.
Using his experience as a crewmember, Paul wants captains (and thus, owners) to see the Hill Robinson management teams as a help, rather than a hindrance. “For me, the best yacht management companies I had when I was a captain were those that were like my professional friends – they were there to help me. There is no ego, there is no such thing as a stupid question.” He uses a recent example of pre-emptively sending out a team to a motor yacht about to embark on a unique and potentially challenging charter to ensure each crewmember was properly trained, the boat was being looked after and everything was working to the highest standard. “The owner really appreciated that we thought about the potential risks to his boat and crew; we saw there might be a testing situation, so the client service team proactively ensured there would be no problems for the owner both before, during and after the charter. We call it, achieving the extraordinary through creative solutions.”
Focusing on sustainability is another example of this proactive nature of the Hill Robinson team. Paul reports that all yachts in the fleet are encouraged to take part in the Clear Ocean Pact, and each Hill Robinson office has an internal sustainability action group. Hill Robinson offset their corporate activity predicted 2021 carbon footprint by being involved in a new 'blue' carbon project Mikoko Pamoja; a community-led mangrove conservation and restoration project in Gazi Bay, Kenya. “We can all do more,” he concludes, “But we are looking closely at 2022 – from beach clean-ups to reducing carbon emissions – to making sure we are doing the maximum we can to save our planet.”
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