OnboardOnline recently sat down with Lynne Edwards and asked her a few questions about herself, her career and what she's learned over the years about what it takes to be a great chief stew. As well as a long career in hospitality management, Lynne is Interior Trainer and Quality Manager at Bluewater Yachting.
OnboardOnline: How long have you been an interior instructor?
Lynne Edwards: Nine years, during which time I have written and delivered all levels of the Interior Crew Training courses for Bluewater Yachting and more recently, the introductory levels of the new GUEST programme, initiated by the PYA.
OO: Did you ever work onboard?
LE: I worked as chief stewardess and on a couple of brief occasions as chef, on a variety of superyachts between 1981 and 1996.
OO: If yes, do you have any fond memories from your time sailing the seas?
LE: Very many fond and unforgettable memories of wonderful places visited, fascinating people encountered and great friendships forged.
OO: Do you think that specialised training is important?
LE: I believe it to be essential in order to be able to deliver service to the high levels expected aboard today's superyachts.
OO: For new to the industry crew, there are several introductory courses, you teach both interior introduction and interior basic food service, what can crew expect to learn on these courses?
LE: The Introductory Interior course is an extremely comprehensive three-day course encompassing everything we believe interior crew embarking on a career in the superyacht industry will need to know in order to confidently function from their first day aboard. The subjects range from the various facets of yacting life, personal presentation, communication and etiquette, to the more hands-on study of yacht interior housekeeping and laundry, and finally to the all-important subject of safety aboard.
The Basic Food Service course is a fun, one-day, predominantly practical course where I teach the different types of food and beverage service used aboard today's superyachts, mise-en-place, table settings, working with menus and tea and coffee service.
OO: Bluewater joined with Shaker BarSchoolTM in 2012 to offer specialised beverage courses, have you seen any of the courses and what do you think?
LE: I have taken the elementary, Wine; Cocktail and Spirit and Barista courses with "Shaker" Bar School and found them to be extremely informative and well-delivered. I would certainly recommend them to interior crew wishing to expand their knowledge and skill sets.
OO: What exactly is involved in the role of a steward/ess?
LE: The interior department is responsible for the maintenance, safety and security of the interior guest and crew areas; including all fittings and furnishings, as well as all service activities directed towards the owners and guests aboard.
OO: Do you think interior crew get enough respect for their role on board?
LE: I think the question is a subjective one, but on the whole I don't believe they do. It is our hope that with the introduction of the new GUEST programme which provides a balance of work experience and formal training for those pursing a career as Interior yacht crew that some of the old paradigms about the role of the interior crew will be dispelled.
OO: What qualities do you think a ‘career steward/ess’ needs?
LE: There are so many qualities which I would deem essential and some which are also clearly beneficial. These qualities may not all be naturally inherent in an individual, but I believe they can be nurtured. Interior crew members should exhibit the following: integrity, honesty, discretion, a strong work ethic, professionalism, courtesy and diplomacy; punctuality, a good memory and observational skills, loyalty and reliability, energetic and healthy.
As a chief stewardess, the following qualities are also important: approachability, consistency and patience, organisational and leadership skills, time-management and motivational skills; credibility .
Lynne Edwards' expertise is in hospitality management. She has led and managed teams in hotels, luxury villas and onboard superyachts. She earned a degree in that field at Oxford Brookes University and worked in hotels in the United Kingdom and Australia before joining the superyacht industry in January 1981. She moved into the crew recruitment department at Bluewater Yachting, where she later became Quality Manager, creating and delivering all their interior crew courses. Lynne now works delivering interior training courses at Abacus & March.