Interviews at the Young Professionals Club
Twenty-somethings at the Young Professionals Club breakfast during METSTRADE show are inspired by the energy, innovation and sense of community in the marine sector. Even though their focus are not specifically aimed at building vessels, they feel attracted to work in the industry.
“I’m in awe,” Anna Maria Panteli admits. “Companies from all over the world are here and it feels like we are all part of a global boating community. Getting to know the marine industry during METSTRADE is much better than I expected. “It is so great to see all of the innovations at the Start-Up Pavilion,” Dionne Brandsma adds. “I really like how all of the representatives from companies all over the world really care. About developments in yachting and boating and about sustainability. All the people we meet here are really passionate about it.” Panteli (20 years old) and Brandsma (22) are exhibiting the boat on hydrofoils that is solely powered by solar panels, which they are developing with their team from the Technical University of Twente in the Netherlands. They have come to the Thursday morning breakfast at the Young Professionals Club during the METSTRADE show. They both joined the Solar Boat Twente team as they wanted to develop practical skills and experience during their studies. Neither of the ladies had any experiences with yachting before or even had aspirations to become active in the marine industry. Now that they meet the sector and the people in it, they may consider again.
Panteli is studying civil engineering and specialises on sustainable construction. She paused her studies one year to become a full time member of the Solar Boat Team. She is the sustainability and innovation engineer, also does the graphic design and manages finance of the project. Before commencing in Twente University, she went to school in Dubai and took English courses in Limassol, Cyprus. “We look into the future of solar powered propulsion and we look at how we want to innovate in the marine sector,” she tells about the team. Brandsma is one and a half year away from graduating her studies in Biomedical Engineering. In the Solar Boat Team, she is the Hydrofoils Engineer. “I am not sure how my study would apply to this role. I applied for this role with an open mind. At the moment, we are developing a control system for the hydrofoils. Our solar boat should be ready in May next year. We will compete in the Dutch Solar Boat Championships in the inland waters of Friesland, the northern province, and then we will take part in the Solar Boat Challenge in Monaco in July next year. We need advanced foiling control systems. The waves are much higher on the coastal waters of the Mediterranean Sea off Monaco, compared to the inland waters of the Dutch championship. On higher waves, we need higher struts under the foils to maintain our flight above the wave tops. In the inland waters however, we must consider the limited depth. With the boat in floating mode, the foils should not touch the shallow bottom. This project learns me a lot about engineering towards sustainability.” Panteli reflects on the show: “In the Construction Material Pavilion (CMP), we learnt about flax fibres in composites and about plastics from recycled material.” Brandsma adds: “We discovered new foam core materials that are lightweight and sustainable. All of this shows how much we can still do to achieve more sustainable products by choosing the right materials.” Both team members from the Twente Solar Boat Team are still finishing their studies, but following this inspiring introduction to the marine industry, they might consider a career in it.
Precisely this is the aim of James Ward, CEO and Founder of Marine Resources, a recruitment company for the marine industry, operating internationally from the UK. He encourages young professionals to start shore based careers in the industry, he is not focussing on sailing crew. But engineers, marketing professionals, designers, marina managers and boat builders can find their way into the sector through his company. Ward emphasizes the need for companies in yachting and boating to offer good career opportunities. “It is a great sector with a lot of totally dedicated people working in it. Young people look at their career differently. They will not settle for poor working circumstances, poor development opportunities and modest wages just because they are so fond of boats. We are a very interesting industry, with a lot of inspiring innovation going on, so we can attract young professionals. Companies should then invest in their workforce to also keep these bright minds in the industry. We see a lot of people that started in the marine industry leave at ages 25 to 35 because they can find better jobs in other industries and have developed valuable skills.” This is why METSTRADE and Marine Resources teamed up to establish the Young Professionals Club. YPC is part of a larger campaign in the marine sector called ‘Future Talent’, aimed to attract students and scholars to a career in yachting and boating by hosting special events. The first event in this campaign was the Superyacht UK Young Designer competition at the Southampton International Boat Show 2023. Eight design students from universities across the country were tasked with producing a General Arrangement (GA) sketch based on a brief created by a judging panel of industry experts at the start of the competition. This way, they met famous superyacht designers and studied the exiting particulars of yacht design as a first encounter with a possible career in marine.
Five months in his first full-time job, Stefan Ebbing (22) is discovering the marine industry from the luxury side. He works as a planner at Seable Wood, a company in the Seable & Co group that makes outside furniture aboard large yachts as well as teak decking. “I am starting to learn how very interesting this industry really is,” he shares during the YPC breakfast. “After my studies in Architecture and Building Engineering, I did not really think of a career in yachting. But I was approached by a recruitment company. I liked the job offer at Seable Wood, because we make really high-end products. I am a perfectionist. Now, I work at a relatively small company. This is good for me, to make steps in career advancement quite quickly. I would like to work as a project manager. I could achieve this role earlier in a smaller company. Afterwards, I am attracted to doing this kind of work in a larger company. I visited the yard of OceAnco and I liked the way they are working there.”