In the latest instalment of The Superyacht Group’s Digital Dialogues series, Martin Redmayne is joined by Ken Hickling. Hickling has been working within the superyacht sector for over 30 years: originally working with composites specialist Gurit (formerly SP Systems), then with AkzoNobel.

As a former ISS President and current SYUK Vice-Chair, Hickling is a firm believer in the value of associations. Nowadays, he supports a group of clients as a business advisor – joining The Viking Maritime Group as non-executive director in 2016 – and has a particular interest in the training, development and management of people.

With the increasing complexity of technology on board superyachts, Hickling believes that one of the biggest challenges facing captains today is people management. “There is nobody who gets it all and operators have to increasingly rely on specialists because of the complexity and high value of the asset,” he explains. “We have an industry that is full of specialists who are being managed by the captain and those supporting the captain in the operation of the vessel. Managing all those people is really the challenge for today’s superyacht operators.”

In terms of the recruitment and development of quality crew, Hickling believes that many superyachts are not hiring and retaining crew in a way that best serves themselves or the industry.

“In a market sector that is driving to deliver the best of the best, I find it astounding that people are looking at ways to cut costs,” he comments. “The way to cut costs well is through efficiency, not by cutting corners. And this happens everywhere… including the crew sector. Very few vessels are prepared to invest in crew for their next career progression, because so often they fear they will lose that person. That’s the sign of an industry that still has some maturing to do.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Hickling speaks about how to better attract talent to this 'invisible' industry, increasing diversity, as well as the industry's lack of a long-term vision. To view the full interview, click here.

The One to One series is a collective campaign for change and industry improvement, and we welcome participants from all sectors. If you would like to take part or contribute your thoughts, please contact Eleanor Shepherd.

You can view the ever-growing archive of Digital Dialogues here.

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