As an enthusiastic yachtsman, Toby Maclaurin has sailed extensively in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. He has also completed two Atlantic crossings in small yachts.
Toby has served on the council of ABYA (Association of British Yacht Agents) and was elected to the MYBA (The Worldwide Yachting Association) governing board in 2008, before completing four years as MYBA President from 2009 to 2014. Since stepping down as MYBA President, Toby was asked to become Chairman of the association’s commercial company All Yachting SAS.
What made you want to pursue a maritime career?
Having grown up on the South Coast of the UK — enjoying family holidays on a small sailing yacht, messing around with dinghies and learning to windsurf — from a young age, all things nautical held great appeal.
When visiting the Southampton and London boat shows, I also recall thinking how great it would be to work in the marine industry eventually.
How did you first get into the industry?
Having left school not entirely sure of an exact career path to follow, fate stepped in when an apprenticeship became available at a local boatyard. Starting at the point of tea making and floor-sweeping, I then moved onto other tasks — where it soon became apparent the finer details of woodwork and joinery were not my forte!
In a timely fashion, one of the yard boats came for sale, giving me the opportunity to meet my first yacht broker. I subsequently agreed to become their weekend runner at Ancasta International Boat Sales, while undertaking an HND in Maritime Leisure Management at the College of Maritime Studies in Warsash. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Can you tell us a bit more about your career so far?
From here, I progressed to work in a full-time role with Ancasta — followed by senior sales, business development and marketing roles at yacht-builder Premier Yachts and then for Opal Marine before joining Cavendish White in 2002.
Following the Ocean Independence acquisition of Cavendish White in 2008, I am now the Sales & Marketing Director, dividing my time between the Zürich and UK offices. The role is exceptionally varied and primarily involves providing day-to-day business and troubleshooting support for the group’s 50+ sales and charter brokers across 16 international locations.
What do you enjoy most about working in the maritime sector?
I have to say, quite simply, the people. Sharing a united passion for boats, the sea and great nautical adventures is a wonderful thing. It is truly great to spend your working life talking to like-minded people.
What are your top 5 tips to achieve your dream role in the maritime industry?
- Take every opportunity — even if it means you start by making the tea
- Understand that you are working in a leisure industry — which means you have to be prepared to be available when others are enjoying their holidays
- Be friendly, open and honest — to clients and industry colleagues alike
- Take every chance to advance your product knowledge, from shipyard visits to FAM trips, as well as absorb information and feedback from your peers in the industry
- Have a passion for and enjoy what you do
What key skills will students learn from the Yacht Brokerage course?
The whole range of skills offered within the course provides a diverse and well-balanced overview of how the industry functions. From understanding crew roles, qualification requirements and management systems to legal, maintenance and insurance aspects — and so much more — this is an ideal steppingstone to a yachting career.
How will the Yacht Brokerage course help students excel in their careers?
The course offers a fantastic starter pack of the fundamental basics that most employers will look for in the yachting industry. If you can add your own product knowledge and personal experiences to this whilst researching and reading widely around the topic, you will be a more attractive candidate than someone who has no current brokerage experience.
Why do you think online training courses are so beneficial (as opposed to learning in a classroom)?
Online training gives students an opportunity for deeper research and wider reading rather than perhaps being spoon-fed in a static environment, where sometimes information may or may not be retained. Online courses are obviously also portable, easily accessed and highly relatable.
Why is the fact that the Course Directors are all active industry experts so important?
So much in this industry comes from learning by actual practical experience and personal encounters — indeed there is no textbook on how to work in the superyacht industry. Yacht brokerage is so varied, and that is why the authentic experiences of others provide the best way to learn.
Why should people study with the MTA?
I have known and worked with the MTA for over 10 years. They were the consultants who helped to create the MYBA brokers course, they have a genuine interest in marine topics, and they are as passionate about the industry as the rest of us.