As the yachting industry continues to grow, more and more women are making a significant impact on this traditionally male-dominated space. Here, YATCO takes the time to get to know some of these women – from all areas of the market – and highlight the important work that they contribute to the industry.
Carmen Lau is a Senior Advisor at Camper & Nicholsons.
Featuring Carmen Lau, Senior Advisor of Camper & Nicholsons
What drew you to the yachting world?
The travel and global vision – when I first entered the industry in 2004, I worked for Kingship Marine, based in China, building custom-made steel yachts targeted at the US and European markets. I was able to travel from Hong Kong to China every week to visit the projects, and I got to visit most of the international boat shows right from the beginning of my yachting career – Singapore, Ft. Lauderdale, Monaco, etc.
I was fascinated with the yachting world, from studying the technical drawings and going through various interior options with the owners, to working with the crew, and of course, finally discussing with the owners the places they plan to enjoy their yachts.
How did you get your start in yachting?
I saw a shipyard in China recruiting a marketing manager based in Zhu Hai in the Hong Kong newspaper. Although I already had an offer from Deloitte for an accountant position, I decided to submit my application. I was interviewed by Roger Liang, the owner of Kingship, who is so passionate about yacht building. He shared his vision, the projects under construction and the positioning of the shipyard in the global market during the meeting and I fell in love with it instantly.
Who are some influential people in your life that you look up to?
There are a lot and it is challenging to name them one by one. I look up to all my clients, as all of them are successful entrepreneurs. Observing the way that they think, and their decision-making process has taught me a lot. This is also one of the reasons I love this industry.
What are some challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
One of the challenges I face now, like most career women, is to find the right balance between family and work. As a mother to a seven- and nine-year-old, it is not always easy to find, especially with the amount of travel I am required to do. I try to share what I do with them, and I’m lucky that they understand and are proud of me.
The other challenge is being an Asian female broker or manging director. I was quite often mistaken as the assistant to another western colleague or told, “there is nothing to see in the engine room” when taking a tour. But these are interesting challenges that are easily overcome, especially having been in the industry for 18 years now. We now normally understand each other within the first 10 minutes of the conversation.
What advice would you give you someone who is starting in the yachting industry?
Although we are serving the wealthiest clients in the world, it doesn’t mean they want to spend money on items that are not necessary from their point of view.
Bear in mind, your view and their view might not be the same.
Also, expect you will need to work on weekends and holidays as most clients like to think about their yacht while they are on holiday.
We are in the business of life experience and connection, so keep your passion and have fun!
What is the most rewarding/enjoyable element of your job?
The smile on the client’s face when they are on their yacht, and the trust and confidence they have in you.
What is your favorite thing about working in the yacht industry?
The opportunity to travel and work with different people worldwide. I have travelled to Dubai on behalf of a client to visit a shipyard, took delivery on the owners’ behalf in the US, Italy, and France, and accompany clients to visit yachts in the Mediterranean and Asia.
What are you currently working on and what keeps you motivated?
Finding suitable clients for the five yachts that I have the central listing for, and a few new builds that are currently under construction. They are for delivery between this year and next.
The trust from clients is the key element that keeps me motivated.
They are confident that you are the best broker and brokerage house to sell their yacht, and they trust that you have their best interests at heart to look after their yacht or build their dream yacht.