Conrad Empson started a career in yachting many years ago, and since then has had a starring role on Below Deck and has now  launched his own business –  CrewPass, an innovative Superyacht crew management software. We recently sat down with Conrad to find out more about how he went from Below Deck to CEO of Crew Pass.

Conrad Empson - CEO of CrewPass
Photo by: Zev Schmitz/Bravo

What is your current job role and where are you based?

My current job role is Managing Director of CrewPass and we are based in Southampton – An easy one!

Before starting your career in yachting, what did you do, and did you always know you wanted to work on Superyachts? If not, what made you choose a career path in yachting?

Before I’d heard about working on Superyachts, I had never even considered it. I was in dead-end jobs, just trying to make my way and figure out what I was meant to do. Working on a yacht was mentioned to me by a family member, so I did a bit of research, did my courses and jumped on a plane. There’s green crew, and then there was me. I knew absolutely nothing. Luckily, I met a first officer who gave me a chance and taught me everything. I owe where I am now to this guy.

How long had you been working on Superyachts before starring on Below Deck?

I was working on boats for 4 years before I did Below Deck.

How did you find the exposure that came with the show? Do you believe it’s played a part in where you are in today?

I went on Below Deck with the intention of showing how yachting should be done. It wasn’t about the exposure or the money, but there was also a sense of wanting to do it for the adventure. At the end of it all, and looking back on it now, it was an incredible experience. I wouldn’t advise the crew who are looking to continue their career as crew to do it, but for the position I am now in, it’s the best conversation starter you’ll ever get. If I were to give any advice to anyone looking to do it, I would suggest thinking before you speak, they will use anything, and it’ll stick with you…

What year did you leave the industry, When did you know it was time to leave yachting and did you have an exit plan?

I left yachting in 2019, and I had no exit plan; I just knew my days of sharing a cabin were over, and I just wanted the normal life of being able to go home every night. The term ‘golden handcuffs’ is so relevant. We are fortunate to earn so much money in yachting that trying to find a job that pays to sustain that life after it is few and far between. You will have to exit knowing you will generally lose that and need to build your life once more.

Tell us a bit more about CrewPass, and how the concept came to be:

During my time working on yachts, I was never background checked to see if I had a criminal record. We have all worked with some odd people that have clearly escaped a life they lived back home. We are asked to sleep next to these people with no proper vetting of who they are. I’m not telling people to accuse their cabin mates, but we’ve all heard some horror stories, and some could’ve been prevented with basic checks. CrewPass was created to provide a safety standard within the industry.

CrewPass is a fairly new business that’s rapidly growing in the Superyacht industry, but what’s it like to now run your company, and has it been a difficult ride so far?

It’s been incredible! We’ve been up and running for a little over 4 months, and the reception from everyone has been overwhelming. It is no secret that the yachting industry is extremely exclusive and stuck in its ways, so trying to introduce something new was my initial worry. However, as we gained brand awareness, we started to build trust from industry professionals. We now have many crew recruitment agencies and vessels who have welcomed CrewPass one way or another. Plus, we now have one of the biggest agencies in the industry adopting our background checks in their employment process!

What 3 key bits of advice would you give yacht crew wondering what to do with their life after yachting?

  1. Always have an end goal but focus and celebrate every little win until you reach that goal.
  2. Be prepared to start from the bottom again.
  3. Get used to paying taxes again.

CrewFO - Yacht Crew Financial advisors

Where do you see CrewPass in 5 years?

CrewPass‘s overall aim is to become part of the standard process for marine employment. This means our background checks will be a common practice by agencies, vessels and crew members. Hopefully, CrewPass will be widely adopted on a global scale! Of course, we strive for CrewPass to be a scalable business with a significant number of sales. However, one of our main milestones is to gain authority in the yachting industry whilst continuing to build long-lasting bonds with other established companies and individuals! We are continuously expanding our services and developing to stay relevant and meet the needs of our customers.

Our customers are very important to us! So, in 5 years, we would love to celebrate having repeat customers, and we hope to build strong customer loyalty/brand affinity!

Finally, as CrewPass grows, we hope to expand our team! In 5 years we anticipate hiring and training a more extensive, substantial team.

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