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Articles International Women’s Day 2023

As we celebrate International Women's Day, it's important to recognise the achievements of women in various professions, including the luxury superyacht industry.

At Ocean Independence we’re delighted to have a strong Team of women leading the way in their respective fields, and inspiring a generation in their wake.

Below we sit down with two of the remarkable women in the Ocean Independence Team who have made significant contributions to the luxury superyacht industry.

1 Michela Bellini Yacht Advisor

Italian born, Michela began her career in the automotive industry working for her father's luxury car business, before transitioning to luxury jewellery and eventually entering the world of yachting.

Starting out developing extensive industry experience working for the new build and sales divisions of Italian shipyards including Riva, CRN, and Benetti; when reflecting on her early years in the industry, Michela notes:

“The yachting industry has changed a lot since I entered 20 years ago. Being a female in the industry 20 years ago presented unique challenges, and I do feel that I had to work harder than my male counterparts. I learnt a lot from the people around me, of course, but I certainly had to put in more hours to get the same results. It's a 24/7 job that demands a lot of dedication and commitment anyway, but as a woman I also had to gain a level of respect and trust to show I was capable. Ultimately, the extra time and effort required has made the broker I am today, which I’m incredibly thankful for.”

michela bellini

With gender now becoming less of a factor in the workplace Michela is pleased to have seen a shift in yachting. While the industry still has a long way to go, Michela is encouraged by the influx of young people, both male and female, who are new to the industry but eager to learn. She notes that:

“It takes time to build up trust with clients and develop an authentic understanding of the industry but seeing more women having opportunities in all areas is certainly a positive development.”

While too humble to admit it, it’s clear that women like Michela have made significant contributions to the luxury superyacht industry. While there have been challenges along the way, Michela’s journey in the yachting industry has been nothing short of remarkable. Her success as a yacht sales broker serves as a beacon of hope for young women who aspire to excel in yachting.

2 Hanneke Maljaars UK Group Director & Senior Charter Broker

Despite having been a traditionally male-dominated industry thus far, there are many women who are breaking the mould and have been paving the way for the next generation of female yachting professionals.

One such woman is Hanneke Maljaars, UK Group Director and Senior Charter Broker at Ocean Independence. Hanneke has been working in yachting for over 20 years and has seen first-hand the changes and progress being made for women in the industry.

“I started working as a chief stewardess on board a yacht when I was 21, and quickly realised I wanted to learn more. So once ashore, I worked my way through the ranks of a few brokerage houses in a variety of roles, from marketing and HR, to sales and charter.”

Hanneke’s passion and determination has led her to become a well-established and respected woman in yachting. But it wasn’t always easy.

“As a woman in yachting, you have to work a little harder to prove yourself,” says Hanneke. “You have to be confident and assertive, but also approachable and personable. It’s a delicate balance, and one that I’ve, hopefully so far, managed to achieve through dedication and years of industry knowhow.”

Despite the challenges, she has achieved great success amassing a loyal client database and utilising her superb networking skills. Passionate about inspiring others to do the same, she notes:

Hanneke Maljaars

"I think it's important for women to see other women thrive, regardless of their line of work. It shows that all things are possible and gives them the confidence to pursue their own career goals."

Hanneke Maljaars

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s important to recognize the progress being made for women in yachting, but also to acknowledge there is still work to be done. Great strides have been made since Hanneke entered yachting in the mid-nineties; but continued support and encouragement should be given to any females interested in pursuing careers in this field.

“While women are sufficiently represented in charter departments, it’s still rare to see them in other roles. Whether it’s sales, and management, or shipbuilding and captaining yachts, there are so many positions yet to be fully explored” says Hanneke. “I believe women have so much more to offer in all areas of the industry and it’s important that we continue to work towards greater inclusion and equal opportunities.”

A true inspiration for women in yachting, Hanneke’s drive and passion are evident in everything she does. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we continue to recognise and celebrate incredible female achievements, and work towards a more inclusive industry for future generations.

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