With growing demand for on board training in the interior department, we caught up with Terry Gilmore to find out what's involved and how it compares with training ashore. Founder of Abacus & March recruitment, and The Interior Training Academy, Terry's passion for raising standards comes from over 40 years working and mentoring crew on board some of the world's finest superyachts.
How did you get into the yachting industry?
I was labouring and waiting tables in my hometown of Wareham, in Dorset, when I spotted a newspaper advert for crew. I landed my first job on a yacht, earning £10 a week, after passing a practical test for silver service. It was the beginning of four decades in the industry.
When did you start Abacus & March and how did it come about?
I started the company three years ago. I had just finished working in the yachting industry and was continually being asked to recommend interior crew so I decided to start my own company. It’s a young agency and we are pushing forward. We prefer not to forward a mountain of CVs that may not be suitable, we offer a personal service.
What is your vision for Abacus and March and the Interior Training Academy?
To be known for happy, hard-working, committed placements. Abacus & March is the recruitment side of the business to provide well-trained candidates. With the Interior Training Academy, the trainers who work for me have the necessary qualifications, knowledge and experience to teach…together we teach elementary and intermediate levels, as well as food and hygiene, which has become compulsory to levels 1 and 2. We also offer barista, wine, cigar and cocktail courses.
Are there differences between hospitality ashore and on board?
Absolutely. You are living on board so you have to be on call all the time. Your day starts early and finishes late during the season. It’s all encompassing. The service should be of a consistent high standard.
What are the common issues you see on board?
At times, inadequate training and experience, not understanding the ethics in terms of having to maintain standards, and living as a crew member. Boredom can be an issue if the yacht is not used much… another problem area can be the ability to get on with other crew members.
What are the advantages of on board training over courses in the classroom?
You have the facility of the yacht and you can work with everything that is on board. The chief steward/ess will inform you what the problems are and rectify the issue accordingly. We can teach the laying of a dining table for eight people, which normally takes 18 minutes, down to eight minutes, as an example.
Is this training certified under the PYA GUEST program?
Yes. We have our elementary and intermediate certification for the GUEST program.
Are there commercial benefits for management companies in adopting on board training or is it more a matter for individual boats?
I believe management companies should understand that their yachts should be run to a high standard and they should be involved in creating the necessary standard. I have been required on every yacht I have trained. Some owners are easy-going and some require full service and formality so it’s important to be able to cover all aspects.
Who do you most admire in the world of yachting? Who has inspired or influenced you?
As owners, Mary Wells, of Wells Rich and Green. She was terrific. She taught etiquette, and to those who gave her respect, she gave it back. Also, Danny and Sally Fiszman were a pleasure to work for. I had a great deal of respect for Captain Richard Cookson, Captain of Nabila, who had time to listen and would offer sound advice.
What would you change about the industry if you could?
The way it’s structured. I would make it more of a career path in every department on board a Yacht. I would give new potential candidates coming into the industry the necessary guidance to go forward.
What does the future of yachting look like?
Continuity of high standards and safety.
You can see Terry in action on Million Pound Mega Yachts - 8pm, 15 November on Ch4!
About Abacus & March
Abacus & March caters to the growing number of superyachts in the Mediterranean, offering bespoke recruitment services and high quality training courses in Antibes through our Interior Training Academy. In partnership with several alliance companies, our courses include an intensive five-day training programme on etiquette, yacht safety, food safety and hygiene in catering for interior crew.