Year after year, women in yachting have taken a larger and more significant role in the industry. They are emerging as powerful, effective, and efficient – as much as men in yachting, and have gone beyond the role of charter broker. Here, YATCO takes the time to get to know some of these women – whether they are yacht sales brokers, shipyard coordinators, charter brokers or marketing masters – you can get to know them all. Below, learn more about Sara Gioanola, the PR and Press Office Manager at Heesen Yachts.
Sara Gioanola, PR and Press Office Manager at Heesen Yachts
What drew you to the yachting world?
I used to sail with my parents during the summer holidays and loved it. I graduated in philosophy with a thesis on hermeneutics, but I soon realized I wanted to be close to the sea as much as possible.
I felt the sea was my natural habitat, a place where mind and body work closely together in unison.
Later in life, I became a Vipassana meditator, and, retrospectively, I understood that sailing is a form of meditation; when working on a yacht, whether adjusting the sails or simply cleaning, I was able to reach extraordinary levels of concentration.
How did you get your start in yachting?
My career began as a stewardess on a beautiful Baltic 51’ sailing yacht called Escondida. At the end of the season, the owner introduced me to the Italian shipyard Perini Navi, who were looking for a junior communications officer.
I will never forget the first day I went to work, riding my bicycle in via Coppino; it felt like being on 5th Ave in New York. When I think back on that very first day, as the masts of all those majestic sailing yachts appeared on the horizon, it still gives me the chills.
I was lucky enough to work on the communications campaign for the Maltese Falcon, an inspiring project that allowed me to gain competence and knowledge in managing complex communications projects.
Who are some influential people in your life that you look up to?
Two women shaped my way of working in yachting: Cristina Bernardini, my boss at Perini Navi, and Francoise Peretti, owner and founder of Peretti Communications. I learned everything I know from them. They gave me the perfect foundation to develop my own way of working in this industry. Honestly, passionately and ardently.
What are some challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
In my work, I like to communicate about technology.
At Heesen Yachts, we excel at implementing the latest technological novelties in our yachts, from the Hull Vane, the underwater wing that harnesses the power of the waves and transforms it into forward motion, to the ultra-slippery Fast Displacement Hull Form, to hybrid solutions.
You name it, I have plenty of stories to share with the press. The biggest challenge is making it digestible and interesting for lifestyle and consumer media. Technology is sexy; you just need to find the right words to “sell it”!
What are you currently working on and how do you stay inspired?
On September 1, Mark van Heffen joined our team as Marketing Director. He is a volcano of ideas and projects. I am currently working with him on a top-secret communications campaign, which is exciting, innovative and different from anything we have done so far. I can’t wait to tell you more!
All Women in our Women in Yachting Series:
- Sara Gioanola, PR and Press Office Manager at Heesen Yachts
- Karen Martensen, Yachting Relationship and Operations Manager at Engel & Volkers
- Marianne Hendriks, Managing Director of Moonen Yachts