“Gemma, how did you know when you were ready to step up to Chief Stewardess?”
Perhaps one of the most commonly asked question on my instagram these days! Before I go into this post, please keep in mind that this is just based solely on my opinion & personal experience.
Just as we all found yachting through different avenues, opportunities to step up are also varied & no two stewardesses will have the same yachting journey.
I was offered my first Chief Stew position 18 months after joining yachting. I had 3 seasons behind me split between two 50M & 45M sized yachts. While I was flattered the Captain felt as though I was ready to be a Chief Stew of a similar sized yacht, I declined the position. Why? I simply didn’t have enough experience to feel confident leading a strong interior team. Deep down, I knew it wouldn’t be fair to the green stewardesses I would be training.
Several years later, after 4 years on yachts, I stepped up to Chief Stewardess. Do I think I could’ve stepped up a little earlier? Possibly. Would it of been the right timing? Nope.
I had to ask the Captain to consider me for the position when the Chief Stew decided to leave. I hadn’t been given many chances to prove myself in the year I had already been onboard & was viewed as a very quiet & shy stewardess. In other words, I grew a pair & asked the Captain to give me a month while the Chief Stew was on leave to prove that I could do it. During that time, I stepped out of my shell completely and with the Chief Stew away, the Captain left it to me to run the interior. Towards the end of the month, we had a guest trip that I led & I had never felt such a high before, I truly felt as though I was in my element. I worked my ass off and continued to do so when the Owners & Captain both agreed I was in fact ready. Truthfully, it was also the first time in a rather long time that work brought me pure joy.
So what pointers would I recommend you consider before making the transition?
- I had an unwavering passion for the job that was only growing more intense. This was not just a job to me, it was a career & with that mindset, I saw endless possibilities. It’s unfortunate to see crew members in higher ranking positions that are only onboard for a paycheque. Be a role model for your girls, showing them how fantastic this industry is.
- Develop a consistent attitude of wanting to help every member of the team excel, regardless of position. This shouldn’t even cross your mind and should just come naturally as you move up.
- Feel confident in training the girls in all aspects of the Interior – if you aren’t quite there yet, ask your Chief Stew if you can start a weekly training session for the team and work with her to create an interactive learning experience. (Ask for feedback as well! Find out what worked & what didn’t.)
- Be 100% willing to commit everything to the team. Previously, I’ve had to go provisioning before the sun rose & would have everything back at the boat just in time for the morning meeting. Why? Because I had green stewardesses onboard that we’re nervous about their first guest trip so I needed to be fully present during the day.
- Be open with your current Chief Stew! Tell her you are considering making the transition up & if there is anything you would like to learn from her just ASK. As Chief Stews, we want to see you SUCCEED!
- Commit to your current program (if possible). Longevity is always important on your CV, however when becoming a Head of Department, Captains want to know that you will be there for a long haul. I recommend 18 months at least on one yacht on your CV.
- Have an honest conversation with yourself, what are your strengths & weaknesses? Own that! No one is perfect & a little humility goes a long way. I knew I sucked at cocktails, so I took an intensive course & started Cocktail Friday when I became Chief Stew in an effort to learn as much as possible. We would rotate through the girls to ensure everyone had a chance to train the team on various drinks – amazing team building!
My first season as Chief Stew was full of extreme learning curves.
Figuring out how to efficiently plan a work list a month in advance, deal with the crew politics that come with the position & create a positive work environment all took time.
Something that really helped me was realizing that I will learn something from every single stewardess that steps onboard. I never forget that everyone brings something unique to the team and plays an imperative role in the teams success.
Ultimately, I just had to have the confidence in myself. With the support of my husband, the timing onboard & a supportive captain, my transition was a natural progression
Without a doubt, I think you know deep down when you are ready.
Tip: Know your worth & your value to a team – don’t underestimate your ability as you move up.
I hope that’s helpful to everyone considering moving up to Chief Stew! If there are any more topics you would like me to cover, feel free to send me a message on Instagram! @theyachtstew
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