Careers 101: How to enter the superyacht industry.
Written by: Georgia Tindale
As we emerge from a hectic and enjoyable in-person boat show season, following two years of Covid-19 complications, there is a palpable sense of excitement and energy in the industry. Now more than ever, yachting is under the spotlight as offering the ideal, safe escape from the pressures of the everyday for clients all over the world.
But for the uninitiated who are discovering the existence of this industry for the first time, finding a route into yachting can seem a daunting prospect. Thankfully, help is at hand. Here we speak to team members from the Dutch design and naval architecture studio Diana Yacht Design, to discover their top tips for getting a foothold in the industry.
How do you help young people to enter the industry at Diana Yacht Design?
Hans-Maarten Bais (Creative Director):
There are several ways to start working for a company like Diana Yacht Design. First, you can do a traineeship which typically takes place halfway through your studies, you can also take on a graduation research project, or you can contact a company directly if you have spare time available to work during your holidays.
When I started working at DIANA in the late 90s, I was just 21 and everyone working there was well over 40. Back then, most of us still worked using drawing tables, no computers nor smart software. Everyone there took time to educate me and teach me everything, so I quickly discovered that what you learn at university is just the basics of design and naval architecture. You can only learn the real job from working!
What are your three top tips for getting into the superyacht industry?
1. Contact a design or naval architecture company and ask if they have any holiday jobs. You can do this even if you have only just started your studies.
2. Take on an internship or graduation research project. Start looking early, preferably far before all the other students do, to find the best internship for you.
3. Use your network. There is always somebody in your network or in your parents’ or friends’ networks with an industry contact. This is especially true in the Netherlands: we need to take advantage of our Dutch maritime heritage!
What makes working at Diana Yacht Design distinctive for a young person?
We receive a lot of job applications for being a yacht designer but in the end, the yacht industry is not only dependent on designers. It all starts with a design, but after that, many hundreds or thousands of hours are spent on designing, an engine room, a freshwater system or designing a construction that is light and strong at the same time.
At DIANA, all these designs are part of the work. The design doesn’t stop with an interior or exterior layout, the design is unifying all those systems, constructions and calculations into one big project: the superyacht, to fit the dream of an owner. In addition, we involve our young colleagues in our projects as much as possible – we have quite a flat hierarchy and always try to give everybody a level of responsibility they can manage, whilst making sure they always have a senior at their backs for support.
What is your current role at Diana Yacht Design and how did you find working there as an intern?
Jim Wursten (Naval Architect and former intern):
I am currently working as a naval architect. I mainly help with the construction of the yachts, making 2D drawings of different sections of the yacht. Apart from the construction, I also help with the power and resistance calculations, as I improved the method we currently use through my thesis work.
I really enjoyed working at DIANA during my traineeship: everyone is friendly and helpful, and they are also great teachers and mentors – I have worked with almost all of the different engineers across the company.
What do your friends outside the industry think of your job?
Agaath Siepel (Naval Architect and former intern):
Most of my friends and family are very enthusiastic about my job. Whenever I tell new friends or people what I do, they look very impressed, as it is not a very common occupation!
Please outline your current role at DIANA and what this involves day-to-day
My graduation research has now come to an end and I graduated only a few weeks ago. My thesis was about the stability range of yachts and I have now started working as a naval architect at DIANA. At the moment, I am working on the GT calculations on one of our projects. It is really nice to be so closely involved in the projects at Diana Yacht Design as part of the project team and not just working by myself on my research.
Traditionally, yachting has been seen as something of a man’s world. Is this still the case?
I think this is still the case. I am the only ‘technical’ woman at Diana Yacht Design, and you see most women working on the commercial side of yachting, shipping and engineering. In the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of technical women, but we still remain a small percentage.
What would you say to other women looking to enter the industry?
I would like to say to other girls and women, don’t be put off by all the men who work in this industry! Just go for it!