Ex-Chief Stew Madison Jay Talks Life After Yachting
We are chatting to ex-yachties, to find out how they have experienced life after yachting. Discussing the ups and downs of their careers, we find out how they have transitioned into land-based work, and how you can do it too. Today we are talking to Madison Jay, an ex-stewardess who has big plans for the future after a career at sea spanning over six years.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m Madison, an Australian Chief Stewardess, who is now living in London, using my experience as somebody who hired and trained crew for many years to teach aspiring stews how to get their first job on a boat they love via my online program so that they can start traveling the world and following their dreams too.
How long did you work as a yachtie? What was your role on board? and what yachts did you work on?
I worked on board yachts for six and a half years, working my way from Junior Stewardess up to Chief Stewardess in three years. I started my career on MY Callisto (a 65m Feadship) and was promoted to 2nd Stewardess in my first year. I fell in love with the charters we did and decided to find a busy charter yacht. I spent a year on M/Y Elixir (a 55m Amels) before being promoted to my first Chief Stewardess position. After another year, I moved on to PLVS VLTRA (a 75m Amels) and finished my career with two years on board M/Y SAVANNAH (the award-winning 84m Feadship).
When did you leave the Superyacht industry and why?
I left the industry six months ago to move to the UK and pursue new dreams. I felt I’d reached the peak of where I wanted to get to in my career. Time was running out to get my UK visa and I had some business ideas I wanted to give time to, so I decided ‘if not now – when?’
View Madisons website here: Madison-Jay
Before leaving, did you plan an exit strategy as to what land-based job you’ll transition to? If so, can you explain how you mapped out your exit strategy, and did anyone help you out along the way?
I spent many years dreaming up different business ideas whilst onboard and trialed a few while I was still working. I would always upskill in my leave, doing different courses and retreats (sometimes related to yachting, sometimes not). I wanted to get a feel for the things I thought I wanted to do, to see what I enjoyed most. Once I was getting closer to leaving, I calculated every cost and living expense associated with my plan, which was to spend six months at home in Australia, then move to London and set up a business. I’m a calculated risk-taker, so the only way I was ever going to be mentally prepared to take the plunge, was by doing the maths and being okay with the numbers.
Tell us a bit about your current job and what you get up to:
I am working full-time on helping others break into the industry. I’m very close to opening the doors to the foundation round of my online course that will teach aspiring stews how to land their first job on board. It will be completely different from anything else available on the market right now, which I’m super excited to be leading the way with. Outside of this, I’m enjoying time with my friends in the UK and making the most of everything the country has to offer.
What are the positives and negatives you have experienced since leaving your role, for example, having a more work-life balance?
I absolutely love being able to watch Netflix, on a sofa, and eating pizza. It sounds silly, but after all those years of sharing a cabin, having poor internet, and not being able to order something when you’re craving it, it is the little things that mean the most. The downside to it is not having your friends a thirty-second walk away all the time, and having life expenses. There are pros and cons to both – but for now, it’s pizza on the couch for me.
After starting your 4-year career path in advertising in 2009, you switched to being a Superyacht stewardess. Was advertising a career that you considered returning to in your life after yachting?
I went back to work for that company in an administrative capacity two days a week at home. But that world doesn’t have my heart anymore. There were so many more creative things I wanted to do, and I think like many yachties we get so much inspiration when we’re on board. I wanted to try working for myself and seeing what magic I could create before going back to a 9-5. But in the wise words of Justin Bieber: “never say never”.
How have the skills you acquired on board helped you in your career since leaving the industry?
I am quite literally going to fast-track people’s entry to the industry and set them up for the best possible experience on board, using my (good and bad) experiences over the last six and a half years. I have been the 9-5 worker afraid to leave their stable career; I have been the green stew afraid she’ll never get a job; I have been the junior stew making errors and picking the wrongs jobs; but I’ve also been the experienced Chief Stew interviewing, hiring, and training people, realising where I went wrong and where others are going wrong. I want to use the knowledge that I have now to make other people’s journeys a little smoother and more enjoyable. Good crew are desperately needed in this industry and will be rewarded if they know how to market themselves and pick the right vessels.
Did you financially prepare for your life after yachting, ie invest in property, stocks, shares, etc?
I invested in property before joining the industry, so paying that off was a priority for me. I thought I was saving well for my first couple of years and it wasn’t until I started tracking it monthly that I realised I wasn’t. I really had to tighten up in my last couple of years. It is one of the biggest things I’ll be teaching in my programs – as what gets measured gets managed. You have an opportunity to completely change your life with your earning capacity onboard, but you can only do this if you are tracking it and aware of where your money is going.
If you could go back to the start of your career, would you change anything?
I wouldn’t change anything, as the good and bad experiences have got me to where I am now, and given me the knowledge and insight to do what I do. The thing that set me up for a great career was my first boat, and that’s why I’m so passionate about teaching people how to get on the best boat (for them) from the start, as I see how much time can be wasted if you don’t.
What are your plans for the next five years and how will you achieve them?
I want to enjoy my life in London for the next two years as it is something I always wanted to do – and after working so hard on board, it’s time for a little me time. I will focus on my business during the week, exploring a few other business ideas, and eventually, the end goal is to open my own boutique hotel – but let’s see where life takes me!
Lastly, can you share 3 pieces of advice for crew considering their life after yachting?
- Start thinking about the things you might want to do for work. Research qualifications you’ll need and what you’ll be paid to see if it’s a realistic opportunity.
- Figure out your living expenses and skip nothing when you do this. It’s easy to calculate rent, bills, food shopping, etc. but we often forget the things we are used to splurging on like hair appointments, facials, expensive beauty products, nails, holidays, and designer handbags. So, if these are things you cannot live without – factor it all in. You don’t want to be disappointed out here, so prepare!
- Give yourself a couple of weeks or months of breathing space to spend time with your friends and family, sleep, learn how to cook again, read, join a gym, etc. Do all the things you’ve been missing before you put any pressure on getting your land life in line.