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Industry Insight

International Women's Day 2021: Celebrating Women in Yachting

To celebrate International Women's Day 2021, we spoke to three female Ocean Independence team members in different roles within the yachting industry.

Monday 8 March marks International Women's Day, with the global theme for 2021 of 'Choose to Challenge'. A challenged world is an alert world; resulting from every challenge is change. To celebrate achievement in a challenging world, we spoke to three female Ocean Independence team members in different roles within the yachting industry, to gain insights into their journey, experiences and outlook. 


Despina Davi – Yacht Manager

Originally from Athens, Despina, or Ina as she is known to many, graduated from the Greek Merchant Maritime Academy as a marine officer, subsequently sailing the world in the cruise industry for many years. Identified by a mega yacht Captain as an ideal candidate, Despina joined a diverse bridge team and so kickstarted her career in private yachting. She moved up the ranks as she gained knowledge and experience, successfully reaching the notable position of Chief Officer/second in command in a short period of time. 

Once relocated ashore, Despina made a smooth transition into the often male-dominated environment of yacht management, applying her can-do attitude to offer flexible support and valued expertise. A member of WISTA Switzerland, an international organisation connecting female professionals from all sectors of the maritime industry, as well as the She of the Sea /Legasea Yachting mentoring program, who provide guidance and assistance to those in the yachting industry, Despina likes to keep her finger on the pulse. In fact, determined to keep her all-round skills sharp, she is studying for a Masters of Business Administration at Heriot-Watt University, with a focus on entrepreneurship, creativity and consumer behaviour. Looking to adopt these learnings to her role in the future, Despina is clear that she will always go that extra mile to deliver beyond a client’s expectations: “It is important to really pay attention, then you will hear what is often unsaid so you can then deliver the unexpected.”


Lucy Oliver – Retail Charter Broker

British-born Lucy cemented her desire to pursue a career in yachting whilst working as a stewardess on luxury yachts, where she gained valuable insight into the industry. Combining this experience with a business degree, she moved ashore into yacht sales and purchase, a highly male-dominated sector with a mature demographic. Gaining inspiration from this, Lucy became involved with Young Professionals in Yachting, to encourage more women and a younger generation to positively develop their positions within the marine industry. Five years on, with membership and popularity growing, she has hosted a number of inspirational speakers, both male and female. One of the organisations most highly attended events of 2019 was in support of Jenny Matthews and the She of Sea organisation. 

“My goal is to demonstrate that women can be fantastic role models for the industry and that you don’t need to conform to the harsh stereotypes. Honest, genuine advice with care and consideration builds trust just as effectively as being a hard negotiator. I will never forget being told I was too nice to be a good charter broker,” says Lucy. She advises any young women looking to join the industry to persevere, to always seek out new opportunities and to have confidence to break down boundaries. A role model keen to share her story, Lucy's advice is simply to demonstrate tenacity and always expect a raft of challenges along the way. 


Daphne d'Offay – Senior Charter Manager

Raised by a strong, independent single mother and educated in a small all-girls boarding school in the United States, Daphne's strength of character developed from a young age. Her future was shaped by the sisterhood of these forward-thinking, intelligent women, who instilled in her the courage to make something of herself. Keen to travel, yet still desiring the challenge of education, she satisfied both needs as a busy yacht crew member, working hard and learning harder. Once ashore, Daphne moved into charter brokerage, sparking a passion as she discovered the ability to grow and thrive within an international company. 

“Competition can be tough, especially in an industry like ours, but the balance comes from what you realise as the true end goal,” says D’Offay. “Being honest, sensitive and ethical, yet not fearing to have your voice heard are important qualities I have focused on for my own personal success.” An active member of the IYBA (International Yacht Broker's Association) Charter Professionals Committee, Daphne was elected Chairperson in recognition of her depth of experience and yachting acumen. She cites one of the pinnacles of her career so far as being voted by industry peers as the IYBA Charter Professional of the Year in 2017. Always looking forward, Daphne is an expert in Bahamas and Caribbean charter.


Throughout the different stages in their yachting careers, all three women have chosen to challenge and be challenged, using drive and determination to succeed in a competitive industry. This International Women’s Day, they hope that their stories will inspire the next generation of females to take the next step in this industry that they are so passionate about.


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