Posted: 7th September 2017 | Written by: Bianca Ljungberg
The Monaco chapter of Young Professionals in Yachting (YPY) is now in its fifth year, with an even stronger vision to attract the very best of yachting’s next generation.
The first Young Professionals in Yachting (YPY) opened its doors in Fort Lauderdale in 2009 at the tail-end of the global financial crisis. At the time, the yachting industry had gone through a honeymoon period with some of the highest growth within the worldwide luxury goods market, inspiring investor confidence in all areas of yacht sales, charter and management.
But the financial downturn was a call to the industry to come up with more innovative ways of maintaining momentum and gaining market share, signallng the need to attract young, entrepreneurial thinkers to join the ranks.
“We had our different corners of the industry and felt something was missing,” explains current YPY Monaco President and founding member, Peter Murray Kerr. “YPY's role is to make this profession more accessible to younger talent.”
With a strong vision to bring together young, shore-based professionals, YPY Monaco held their first official event in May 2013 at the Yacht Club de Monaco. Since then, the association has grown to 150 members, all between 22-40 years of age. Together they represent 89 companies across the industry, with 30 nationalities, including Italian, German and Spanish.
Monaco provided an ideal home from the start giving access to the heart of yachting’s highly connected network and a community that provides ongoing support to the growth of yachting within the region.
“Monaco may be a small country,” says Peter, “but it’s very aware of the potential in yachting, particularly for the principality’s economic growth and tourism. Monaco is always keen to see innovative ideas for yachting to succeed.”
YPY Monaco works closely with local thought leaders, including the Monaco Yachting Cluster, an organisation with the goal to bring together the 300 Monegasque businesses operating in this sector. Recently YPY Monaco also received encouraging words from the Prince’s Palace in a letter acknowledging the association’s great work and relevance in Monaco.
These relationships have helped YPY Monaco to achieve industry recognition and formalise its accomplishments of the past four years.
“YPY is a dynamic association of the principality,” says Grégory Benassi of the Yacht Club de Monaco, where the association is based. “It explains important issues to the future leaders of one of the most active business sectors of Monaco.”
YPY’s monthly seminars take place at the large conference room on the ground floor of the Yacht Club de Monaco. Topics up for discussion range from leadership and negotiation techniques to the impact of the digital age, as well as trends in the luxury goods sector, issues around marinas and the role of MYBA (The Worldwide Yachting Association).
Past speakers have included leading industry players such as Jonathan Beckett (Burgess), Peter Insull (Peter Insull Yacht Marketing) and Tony Harris (Boat International) and debate is often animated, providing valuable insight and knowledge and a great platform for networking.
The YPY Monaco board and social events committees are comprised of an impressive list of industry front runners, including brokers, digital marketeers and successful entrepreneurs who dedicate their spare time to managing the association.
Run strictly as a non-profit organisation, YPY relies heavily on the help of a small team of volunteers to ensure momentum and that monthly events take place.
Mark Duncan, former Group Marketing Director for Yachting Partners International (YPI) notes, “Unlike so many failed attempts by others to set up credible organisations, YPY has consistently benefited from the vision and commitment of a dedicated and determined team who have managed to create a respected association.”
The Next Generation
Their biggest challenge now is to find the next group of enthusiastic and committed young professionals to drive the association forward.
So what are the benefits and what's involved? Peter believes the greatest value to members is the possibility of achieving things through the association, while running the association is much like managing a business, in this case driving membership and delivering events and seminars to a demanding yachting audience.
Lisa Peck, a founding member and previous President of YPY Monaco also sees YPY as a vehicle for collaboration between competing businesses within the industry. “Before YPY, many people of my generation felt that they couldn’t talk to competitors. If I worked for the yellow team, in theory I was not supposed to talk with the blue team,” says Lisa.
YPY has challenged this narrow mindset by building better relationships and establishing a mutual understanding among competitors, especially in sales and charter brokerage and yacht supplies. At the same time, YPY acknowledges the need for confidentiality and healthy competition in what is often considered a closely guarded industry.
“My vision at the time was to establish a useful networking association for young people to help them develop their careers,” says Lisa. “My vision now is to grow the association worldwide.”
Lisa currently acts as International Liaison Officer for YPY, working between the different chapters internationally, including south Florida, London and the Netherlands. Currently they are in the process of setting up a new chapter in Germany and further hubs with a large presence of shore-based yachting professionals. This coordination will allow members to network and attend seminars on a more global scale.
YPY also encourages the sharing of ideas with other industries and has hosted speakers from all walks of life, including the internationally acclaimed serial entrepreneur Kevin Gaskell and celebrity speaker Tom Oliver. The annual ‘speed networking’ event is also designed to facilitate networking with other industry bodies such as the Jeune Chambre Economique de Monaco (JCI) and MYBA.
But it’s not all serious business at YPY. Members also get the chance to let their hair down and meet up with likeminded peers at the regular social events organised throughout the year: skiing on the slopes in Limone, wine tastings, water sport events, drinks on board at Monaco Grand Prix, spa experiences and Christmas parties are all part of the annual YPY calendar.
“What I’ve taken from YPY is a much greater network,” says Peter, who started out in yacht sales, charter and management in 2005 and went on to found MooringSpot.com, the Mediterranean’s first mooring database. YPY gave him a platform to cross paths with new people from all areas of yachting, “It’s not just shallow networking,” explains Peter. “over time, I see how genuine friendships have formed and how people get on. That’s actually very rewarding.”
During his 12 years in the yachting industry, Peter has seen dramatic shifts in the way business is conducted and he believes it is YPY’s responsibility to keep its members connected and up to date, to encourage them to develop their careers and embrace ethical practices.
At the same time he's keen to highlight the valuable skill set of the next generation. “In the past, shore-based professionals had often worked as crew. Nowadays, new talent also comes from business, branding and luxury goods, as well as hospitality universities and family offices."says Peter. "Typically they are more IT literate and business orientated, they tend to have a clearer understanding of marketing concepts and speak many different languages."
Furthermore, “It's a fact that there is no formal education or set track to enter the yachting business sector,” explains Peter, “and because it’s a high stake industry, it’s a lot tougher for younger professionals to be given opportunities to prove themselves.”
This challenges the association to keep abreast of the latest developments within the industry and to offer a platform for members to explore their skills and share ideas with others in the same field. And because yachting is unlike any other profession, the association provides a space for members to connect on matters that resonate only in yachting terms.
“We’re all trying to do the same thing and make this industry a long term success.” adds Lisa. “It’s been a really fantastic experience for me and highly beneficial to my work.”
To get in touch with YPY Monaco:
Join Young Professionals in Yachting and Only Yacht Superyacht Insurance at this year’s edition of the Monaco Yacht Show:
Where: Yacht Club de Monaco
When: Thursday, 28 September from 08h30
Free to attend but booking is essential!