A career after yachting
Donna Portland of Elite Private Staff describes how the company offers land-based careers well suited to ex-yachties…
Do you ask yourself: ‘What will I do after my yachting days are over?’ This is a dilemma that many yachties are faced with when they’ve considered their future. You’ve loved your yachting days of course – all that travel and so many highlights and many faces coming into and out of your life. Not forgetting the great friendships made, the good money, the tips and all the amazing stories you’ve collected.
At some point however, you know that you’ve got to move on from life at sea. Travel and living out of a suitcase has lost its appeal. After a while you may just want to put roots down, maybe get a dog, lead a regular life and have a permanent address. Perhaps even give yourself the possibility of a relationship, or marriage and kids. More than anything you might just want some control over your life again, be able to make the decision about your work hours and be able to accept that invitation to a party, friends’ wedding, family event or plan a holiday.
Leaving yachting is a big decision. As an ex-yachtie arriving back in Australia after seven years working as chief stewardess on charter yachts, I wasn’t sure who or where to approach. I knew that I had a very unique skill set but it was difficult to put this across to recruiters and employers who weren’t familiar with the superyacht industry. Like many ‘returned yachties’, I tried a number of different avenues for jobs with the aim of continuing my service career and forging a professional future on land. After trying this and that, I had to fall back on my administration skills to find work, but it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go in.
I eventually took the plunge and created the crew training and recruitment agency Superyacht Crew International back in 2006. I was determined to create great training and be the kind of recruitment agency that I wanted to use when I was yachting. I did the hard yards to travel overseas to boat shows and events to meet clients in order to put together the client base and flow of work that the business enjoys today.
"It’s a minor adjustment to bring an ex-yachtie’s skills, organisation and understanding to a land-based role..."
Over the years, one thing led to another and various SCI clients who owned superyachts kept asking if we could find them ‘superyacht-standard’ staff for their homes. The typical complaint would be; ‘We just can’t find staff who get it – who understand how we like to live and can anticipate what’s required’. There were also comments along the lines of; ‘our regular cleaners just don’t think, see the detail or go into any depth’, or ‘we want continuity: someone who not only remembers the details but who goes above and beyond’.
So, the private staffing agency Elite Private Staff was born and has been steadily growing ever since, finding chefs and cooks, house managers or butlers, nannies, personal PAs and travelling assistants, nurse-helpers, executive housekeepers, handymen, gardeners and groundsmen for their elite clientele. We are regularly approached for staff who can perform at the elite level our clients require. It’s a minor adjustment to bring an ex-yachtie’s skills, organisation and understanding to a land-based role.
The whole idea of hiring private/domestic staff in Australia (and internationally) has really caught on. There are a large number of professional households where the home owners have full-time careers and simply don’t have the time or inclination to stay at home or take on the sole responsibility for running the home, kids, pets, garden, cars, boat, renovations, other staff etc. Executive households now seem to be enjoying the benefit of employing a professional person to run their home and the new butler role – the ‘house manager’ – is all about being a personal assistant in the true sense of the word.
The ‘house manager' role is to manage all their principal’s domestic affairs and would usually include supervising cleaners and contractors to perform to the required standard and overseeing the quality of their work. Additionally, they arrange anything from the weekly shopping to the family holidays, organise everything from buying gifts to getting quotes, organising entertainment and events, whilst managing a budget and keeping a close eye on expenses. So, you can see that there are a lot of parallels to the chief stewardess/purser role here.
Working solely with candidates that are in Australia, Elite Private Staff has already placed ex-yachties in private roles who are giving great feedback on their new career direction. A change is a wonderful thing and there are definitely many perks to living back on land.
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