Using technology and software onboard yachts has made it easier for crew to find solutions to their daily problems; however, it takes someone who’s experienced the problems personally to implement these solutions successfully and understand market needs. After working on various yachts for over ten years, Scott Strand developed his own unique vessel management software with YMS 360. As Strand prepares to launch the product, he speaks about what he learned during his time onboard, the struggles he had transitioning from a yachting lifestyle to a land-based one, and how he adapted the skills he learned as a crew member to life after yachting.
How long did you work as crew? What was your role on board and which yachts did you work on?
I started working on yachts in 1990 and continued through 2002. I started out on deck and worked my way up to Captain. I worked on S/Y Diamante, S/Y Golden Touch, M/Y Netanya II, M/Y Kaleen, M/Y Azzurra, M/Y Dreamseeker, M/Y Cakewalk, M/Y Iroquois and M/Y Boardwalk.
When did you leave the Superyacht industry, and what were your reasons for leaving?
I never really left. I transitioned from crew to shore services where I started my own company called Great Circle Systems. I left full time yacht life to settle down and start a family. It was important to me to be able to be at home.
Prior to leaving, did you plan an exit strategy?
Yes, given my prior background in software, I was able to identify the need for (and build) an expense reporting application. This was back in the days when there was no € currency. That proved successful, so I worked towards being on a new-build as I wanted to experience that. During that build I continued to develop a full suite of software to manage day-to-day ops onboard. From there it was a step to start my own company.
Most important lesson you learnt as a crew member that you now apply to day-to-day life on land?
What a GREAT question. There’s a lot to choose from. One that really sticks out came from one of my mentors (Bill Zinser). I was going out one night and the trash hadn’t been taken off the boat. Technically this was the watch person’s responsibility. So, I left the trash. Bill asked me why and I told him my reason. He taught me that if you see something wrong, take the initiative and fix it. Let the HoD worry about ensuring the responsible person learns their lesson.
What is your current job role, and where are you based?
I am the CEO of Triton Development, Inc. We are creating the next evolution of Yacht Management and Compliance Software called YMS. I am based out of San Francisco.
Can you tell us more about YMS 360 and what you do on a day-to-day basis?
As the founder and CEO of what amounts to a start-up, I have to wear many hats on any given day. I have to create budgets and financial models, court investors, oversee marketing, oversee support and operations. Given our product, I am also the lead PM and QA person. I try to split up my roles so I can focus. So one period is business dev and strategy, the next is marketing/sales/promotion. The rest is product development/management/QA, testing & support.
The good, the bad and the ugly parts of transitioning from yachts to shore?
I had made my dearest friends as crew and they remain lifelong friends. Leaving the lifestyle of yachting behind was hard. I would say that for at least 3 years I was looking to go back to yachting.
Starting your own business requires long hours and sometimes little reward. Experiencing the long work days required on yachts prepared me to persevere . On the other hand, I wasn’t entirely prepared for all the challenges that come from having business partners that didn’t share my vision. Thankfully, I was able to learn how to overcome these challenges too.
What is your hardest struggle since leaving the industry, and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part was adjusting to life ashore. When you work as crew you are more like a family that runs their own little operation. When you go ashore that is lost to a certain degree. I missed the camaraderie of my professional yachting life. I was tempted to go back to it almost daily. I overcame this by putting my licenses in a filing cabinet and forgetting about them for a few years. This became so much easier when I started a family. I am also happy to say that I am in frequent contact with my friends and mentors from my yachting days.
Did you have any other career options in the back of your mind when you were considering your life after yachting?
Yes. I was excited to see what some cities might offer. I had moved to NYC and was excited to get in the early days of Internet computing and see what I could do to participate (as an amateur) in the arts (music, stage). That was exciting, but I got an offer that I couldn’t refuse and went back to yachting. After that, I set my sights on taking control of my own destiny a bit more and was encouraged to start this business after.
If you could return to the start of your yachting career, would you change anything? Ie, financial choices, ways you would have enhanced your cv, extra courses, and so on.
Not really. I was quite focused. I got my licenses and certifications as soon as I could. I was eager to learn and liked the lifestyle yachting offered very much. I had good mentors who encouraged me to invest and manage my pay-check and not spend it all on social pursuits. I was really fortunate to have worked primarily for two excellent captains who remain as mentors to me.
What kind of positive changes would you like to see in the industry?
Big question. From what I can see things are overall headed in quite a positive direction. Professionalism (required credentials, training, awareness) has increased quite a bit since my day. I think the thing that mostly comes to mind is increasing the equality of men and women regarding not stereotyping roles on board based on gender but rather on ability.
What does success mean to you and what is your career vision for the next 5 years?
Success is fulfilment that comes from: being of service, productivity and relationships we form. Success is being able to maintain your integrity and share in the richness of the relationships we develop. It seems everything else we desire comes from that.
Lastly, can you share 3 pieces of advice for crew members thinking about their life after yachting?
- Invest in yourself. Set financial goals and learn how to manage your money well (pay yourself first). Take advantage of your seafaring status and bone fides regarding tax status.
- Either plan to retire as crew from a financial perspective OR take advantage of your ability to learn and develop the skills you desire for life after yachting.
- Nurture your professional and personal connections and relationships. They will serve you well when you need support to move ashore.
To learn more about YMS 360, click here.
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