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.
Featuring Katya Hall, Commercial Director USA of Ahoy Club
What drew you to the yachting world?
Truthfully, I ended up in yachting by pure chance.
Living in New York City and working for the State, I was fed up with clocking in and clocking out of a boring desk job and applied for a position in a yacht management company – a job posting I found online!
The yachting world was completely foreign and unknown to me before, but I got to fly to FLIBS that fall and of course was absolutely blown away by the scale of the industry, and even more so by the characters and personalities!
How did you get your start in yachting?
As luck would have it, having answered that online ad, I ended up being part of the new build team for the groundbreaking 240ft (73m) Feadship PREDATOR. So, my start in yachting began with being introduced to the best yacht builder in the world and to all the intricacies of the new construction process. To say it was eye opening and absolutely fascinating (especially considering I am an engineer by trade), would be an understatement! Having met a few yacht brokers during the time of overlooking the new build process, I decided that is where my full potential would be realized, in yacht brokerage.
Who are some influential people in your life that you look up to?
So many seasoned sales brokers come to mind – from my first boss in yachting, Kevin Merrigan at Northrop & Johnson, who is such a big personality, to Mark Elliott at IYC who is a true legend, Kevin Bonnie of IYC Monaco; to a few ladies in the charter world whom I love dearly and admire – Barbara Dawson, Barbara Stork Landeweer, Debra Blackburn, Annemarie Gathercole to name a few.
My current boss at Ahoy Club, Ian Malouf, deserves a special mention – a self-made man and a “serial” yacht owner, who just “micromanaged” a very successful EUR 40m refit on legendary 240ft (73m) Lürssen CORAL OCEAN and won Refit of the Year award. His passion and enthusiasm for yachting is infectious, and he is a wealth of information and insights from the owner’s perspective
What are some challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
Putting a deal together is always like putting pieces of the puzzles together – it’s challenging and difficult every time, but if it was easy, everyone would do it, right?! Being female in a male dominated sales broker world often means you need thick skin, which thankfully I’m definitely equipped with!
What advice would you give someone who is starting in the yachting industry?
If you aspire to be a yacht broker – study the market, study the product, study the industry and its key players – your most powerful tool is knowledge. Our clients are so informed and educated nowadays, in order for you to deliver valuable advice to a buyer or seller, make sure you have all the data at your fingertips.
What is the most rewarding/enjoyable element of your job?
Maybe because of how I got my start in yachting, but visiting shipyards is still by far my favorite part of the job. New construction processes never cease to amaze me, the innovation and technology constantly evolving fascinates me, especially alternative fuel possibilities and ergonomic designs.
Of course, getting a listing on a brokerage yacht or selling one is always very exciting too, and even planning a charter on a special yacht for a special client is always rewarding and enjoyable.
What is your favorite thing about working in the yacht market?
I love the comradery — the brokerage world is ultra-competitive, yet many of us are friends in real life. Putting a deal together (and keeping it from falling apart!) is always a thrill, and it does get intense and competitive with brokers representing the other side. Then, when we finally close the deal, we are back to being friends and hanging out together at the boat shows, sharing “secrets” about off-market opportunities and market intelligence.
What are you currently working on and what keeps you motivated?
I have two separate new construction deals in progress with two top Italian shipyards in the works, and it does take time and many flights to Italy, but it’s really exciting.
Watching a yacht come to life from a piece of paper and a pencil is definitely something that motivates and excites me. I am blessed with amazing clients whom I learn from every day as they are typically on top of their game in their respective industries.
How lucky are we all to be working in the yachting industry and to rub elbows with, and learn business strategies from, the most successful entrepreneurs in the world!