The first in our new series of Life After Yachting articles we talk to Robert Shepherd.
Role on Yachts: Chef
Time on yachts: 22 years
Current Role: President of Edmiston Americas
SYC: Thanks for talking to us today Robert. We are really pleased to be able to tell your story.
RS: My pleasure and nice to talk to you too.
SYC: So tell us, how and when did you start out in the Superyacht industry?
RS: Back in 1982 I was working as a chef in a restaurant in Stamford Connecticut. The restaurant was next to the marina and one Friday a lady came in from one of the yachts in the marina. Her chef had just walked out and she asked if we could help prepare the food for her weekend cruise. One thing led to another and in the end I asked my boss if it would be easier for me to just go and cook on board for the weekend. He agreed and, following a successful weekend the owner offered me a job. How could I say no?
SYC: That’s a great story and the sort of thing we hear a lot. A chance meeting or offer and all of a sudden you work on a yacht. What sort was it?
RS: It was a 72′ Broward which I ended up working on for a year.
The start of a career on Superyachts
SYC: And after that?
RS: I was lucky enough to work for some very experienced and well known yacht owners over my time. I built up great experience and worked my way up to a 60m Feadship. I was lucky enough to be involved in the build of this yacht and had a hand in the interior and galley design.
SYC: And then? Why did you leave?
RS: The time comes for everyone doesn’t it?
SYC: It certainly does
RS: I had been doing it for over 20 years by this point and my knees and back couldn’t take it anymore. Too much time on my feet. So, it was time for a change!
Life after yachting.
SYC: So, when you left your last yacht did you have a job to go to? Did you have a plan?
RS: Not at all. I hadn’t really thought about it. One day I was one of the best paid chefs in the industry and the next, no job! I had no idea what to do.
SYC: And? What happened?
RS: I ended up having a chat with owner of the yacht I had just left. He suggested I should have a try at being a yacht broker. In his words “You have good contacts, you are well connected and you work hard. Find a company and offer to work for nothing + commission”. So I did. This was back in 2004 and, at the time Y.CO was just starting out and I happened to know one of the founders through my time on yachts. I gave them a call and the next thing I know I was a yacht broker!
SYC: The rest, as they say is history. So in 2008 you moved from Y.co to Edmiston and you are now in the enviable position of President of Edmiston Americas?
RS: That’s right. A lot of time and effort later and I find myself in one of the best jobs in the world.
SYC: That is such a great story.
Lessons to learn
SYC: So Robert, you have made great success of things over your time in the industry and your story is a real inspiration to all the crew out there wandering what to do next. At this point we like to ask, on behalf of our readers for a bit of guidance.
RS: Go ahead, I am always happy to help.
SYC: Name two things you would do differently if you had your time in yachting again?
RS: That’s actually easy.
- Save more money from an earlier age. I spent too much time living like the owner and not enough time thinking about my future.
- Keep a more detailed journal of my time on yachts. It is so easy to think you will remember it all when you are young.
SYC: Those are both great tips. We still hear the same from crew leaving yachts now. “I wish I had saved more” or “I should have planned more for my future”
RS: It’s too easy to get caught up in the lifestyle, probably even more these days. But that would be my advice to the 21 year old me. Save more and record your memories.
SYC: Thanks Robert. It has been a real pleasure talking to you today. Living proof that there is life after yachting.
RS: My pleasure.