Having a purpose and being passionate about what you do in business is critical to its success says Andrew Holme, Founder and Managing Director of Insignia Crew, a niche MLC compliant crew agency specialising in the placement of former Armed Forces professionals into the super yacht industry.
As a former Royal Marine, Andrew’s passion is to build a sustainable business whose purpose is to support Service Leavers in their desires to join an ever-expanding and exciting industry, where demand for exceptional people who carry multiple skill sets is strong.
We are cautious about using the word ‘recruitment’ when explaining the Insignia Crew proposition to our wide and varied audience” explains Andrew, “be that client or candidate alike. As a relatively youthful business, we have worked tirelessly to establish the Insignia Crew proposition as one that goes further than most, aiming to meet and exceed the expectations of those who engage with us. One could say that we are more than just another recruitment agency because we respect and understand the challenges and fears faced by those who leave the Armed Forces. I think the holistic approach to those we support is very well received”.
As a Service Leaver himself, Andrew has walked a mile in the boots of others who have left the Armed Forces and as such he recognises the importance of being a guiding light to those who require it. The benefits of a focused approach to Insignia Crew candidates are twofold: Candidates recognise that an individual approach is used in every case to ensure no stone is left unturned surrounding questions asked and support needed and Insignia Crew clients learn that when they choose to engage with the business in order to meet their crewing demands, candidates have received a very individual and tailored service meaning a strong understanding has been formed between both parties, which allows credible feedback to be presented.
Andrew comments “Insignia Crew is in a unique position as a business because those behind the business carry an in-depth understanding and knowledge across the three important verticals of operation. The Royal Marines, The Superyacht Industry and Recruitment. We believe that without an in-depth understanding of these verticals, our business would not be credible and the ability to secure the trust we seek from those we work with would be almost impossible”.
Andrew left the Royal Marines via medical discharge in 2001 after twelve years of distinguished service. As with all Service Leavers he was a little unsure how his future was going to pan out and with little or no guidance around the ‘what next’ question as he ‘walked out of the gate’ Andrew embarked upon a sales career which led him to establish himself as an award winning senior Regional Account Manager at Timberland, a career which lasted over six years.
A change in his personal circumstances in 2008 allowed Andrew to pursue a lifelong ambition to work in the Superyacht industry. However, little did Andrew realise that he would face resistance from the industry recruitment agencies that he sought advice and guidance from. Upon arrival in Antibes, Andrew experienced a very dismissive and extremely negative response from the very people he had hoped would help him find his dream job. At the age of 36 Andrew was told in no uncertain terms that he was too old for the industry and that his military background and associated skill sets would not be recognised or valued - this despite him holding a Royal Navy Ships Diver qualification converted to PADI, extensive seaborne operational expertise from time served aboard HMS Ark Royal and various other large vessels deployed globally, and an above average portfolio of industry recognised qualifications.
Not wishing to give up at the first hurdle and despite the bitter disappointment felt by Andrew having experienced such initial negativity from the industry, he soldiered on and decided that it would be up to him to find his first position aboard a large yacht.
A chance meeting whilst living in Antibes and an associated recommendation led Andrew to meet the Captain of M/Y Saint Nicolas, who was searching for candidates who carried a military background to join the yacht. That meeting turned into an interview and an offer of employment to join the yacht as a Deck/Close Protection Officer.
Various courses followed Andrews’s appointment, notably an SIA Close Protection course and an Advanced Fire Fighting course. Andrew also completed his MCA yacht rating certificate whilst aboard.
After nearly two years of service with M/Y Saint Nicolas, Andrew left the yacht to join the Maritime Security industry where he fast became a Team Leader and oversaw in excess of 35 successful transits in the High Risk Area. Ending his years at sea, Andrew sought a land-based role and joined a niche recruitment agency as a Regional Director.
Andrew’s experience aboard M/Y Saint Nicolas, where he established a very robust network of industry professionals all of whom kept saying “the industry could do with more people like you”, made him realise that there must be others leaving or who had left the Armed Forces who had a desire to join the industry, others who possessed the same drive, determination and willingness to learn as him and, importantly, people who carried a varied mix of skill sets that perfectly matched those in demand from the industry today. The seed was sewn to form Insignia Crew.
Andrew goes on to say, “Those seeking to move into the sector can expect an almost seamless transition. There is defined rank structure aboard, strong monthly salaries, food and accommodation is provided and there are set leave dates in place with some roles carrying a rotational option and should you choose to make the superyacht industry your future career, there is a well-trodden path to follow in order to achieve further qualifications and associated promotion.
Additionally, and importantly for those with a nomadic nature, some yachts travel great distances which means you’re never in one location for long. You work in close-knit teams where the best is expected from you at all times and there is a sense of collective responsibility between you all with a single goal in mind. The superyacht sector is a service industry driven by high expectations and exceptional quality in every instance. The goal is to deliver an absolutely outstanding service to those who pay your wage, be they owners or guests - it really is no more complicated than that”.
As the industry continues to evolve around the desires of the ultra- wealthy with a particular focus on exploration and utilising specialist equipment, there is no doubt that demand will increase for elite, multi skilled crew. There is an emerging trend in the industry of superyacht owners wanting to do more than simply cruise the Mediterranean and Caribbean. It is now not uncommon for yachts to venture to more remote cruising grounds and in some cases the Polar Regions. In so doing, the crews aboard need to be equipped with not only a positive, can-do mind set but also a diverse skill set that will allow them to complete tasks in addition to that of a Deckhand or Stewardess.
Insignia Crew was brought to market with two main goals in mind; to provide the industry and its discerning clientele with elite, qualified and multi-skilled candidates and to provide trusted support to those who have left or who are transitioning from the Armed Forces, who aspire to join a growing and exciting industry as a chosen new career.
Insignia Crew is delighted to now be a valued member of the WEA and we very much look forward to serving those who leave the Royal Navy and Royal Marines to the very best of our ability. Please get in touch by visiting www.insigniacrew.com - you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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