Diversity queen

Jenny Matthews – Diversity Queen!

Jenny Matthews – Diversity Queen!

Jenny Matthews. Need we say more?! She is at the forefront of creating diversity and inclusion within the yachting industry and not that this needs to be said but of course, the founder of She of the Sea. Which “holds the clear vision of a high performance, competency focused yachting industry, regardless of gender, race or any other factors.” Featured in Business Insider, The Guardian, Mega Yacht News and more, she has certainly been making waves (sorry I had to!) in the industry. Although she claims she hasn’t exactly had an incredible career but rather a unique one, we beg to differ! Read more about Jenny’s journey, where she is now and where she’s headed. 

Can you tell our VP tribe a little about your background that led you into yachting?

Being from NZ, I think a lot of kiwis grow up with a bit of salt in their veins and an affinity for the ocean. That is certainly the case for me and although I was never much of a sailor. I spent a huge chunk of my teens out on the water at the crack of dawn with the rowing team. Looking back, I feel it was this foundation in a highly competitive sport that led me to yachting. I’ve always been obsessed with creating an environment where a team of people can reach their highest potential, with a particular interest in the human side of it, what makes a team tick etc. As I went straight from college to yachting (stopping off on Lord Howe Island to get my Dive Master), I can really only attribute being led to yachting to that courage you have as a teenager to just jump into something that excites you and work out the details as you go!

You’ve had an incredible career; can you tell us about it and how you got to where you are today?

This is a great question and a bit challenging to be honest as I don’t really feel like I’ve had an incredible career. Unique perhaps, but it doesn’t feel any more so than anyone else! I think the challenges that have popped up have really shaped it so far, for example knowing I wanted to work in the deck department and being shuffled into the interior because ‘women don’t work on deck’ (2008). I’ve found a lot of inspiration from people of all genders along the way, though I will tip my hat to those that have faced adversity due to not fitting the ‘yachting norm’ and have paved the way for those following them up the ladder. I’ve been really fortunate to have amazingly supportive people along my journey, and equally so there have been periods with very little support which have in turn built an element of resilience and self-reliance that I am proud of and serves me well.

I feel like one of the main words to describe my career so far is eclectic. I’ve worked on both motor and sail, with such a diverse range of characters and since I’ve been sticking to temp work this past year. I’ve found so much value in seeing lots of different leadership styles, procedures, drills, training, operations etc. I can’t recommend it enough to people looking to expand their horizons and pick out the bits that resonate the most with them!

She of the Sea and LEGASEA are really extensions of Tash (my partner and co-pilot) and I’s a passion for the industry and our desire to see it be as fulfilling, professional and incredible as it is at its best. These days it feels a bit surreal to be sharing my time between being onboard, which I love, and working on programs that are making yachting a better place. 

She of the Sea is such an exciting movement, how did this come about?

She of the Sea was really born out of curiosity and in some way I really just wanted some female friends that had similar shared stories for us to connect about and learn from each other! At the time, I had just achieved the Chief Mate 3000GT and although I had amazing male peers, I was really missing that female side. I wanted to reach out and connect, and it turns out I wasn’t the only one! I asked a question on Facebook, something along the lines of ‘ is anyone else out there?’ And it blew up. From there I googled how to build a website and the rest is history!

I really think it was the right platform at the right time and has now evolved so much further than the community and is moving in real action to support and amplify women in male-dominated spaces at sea. We have such an amazing community now that is growing by the day, and I have to say, getting to know the generation of women coming up the ranks is SO inspiring, it’s what really drives us and we get a kick at each milestone they reach! We have been really amazed at the support for the conversation from all genders, from both ashore and at sea, and although it’s obvious that you’re never going to resonate with everyone, we have seen a HUGE increase in engagement from across the board.

LEGASEA is the natural evolution of She of the Sea, and while SOTS will continue to do what it does best (supporting and connecting women in the deck and engineering departments), LEGASEA is speaking to Yachting’s overall social impact. Its programs will dive into diversity, equity and inclusion, community outreach, a circular knowledge economy and further understanding who we are as an industry and the challenges we collectively face.

We would love to hear what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you and why they’re important?

Great question! Diversity is the mix of individuals, identities, talents, experiences and perspectives. Demographics range from factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, orientation to the socio-economical background, education, political beliefs and religion. Diversity of thought, the background is also a big part! Without inclusion, diversity is unfulfilled potential. Inclusion is how people feel and are treated within a group.

Inclusion is when people feel valued, heard, safe, able to fail while they innovate, feel they have the opportunity and a sense of belonging and will be evaluated based on their merits. It’s about equal opportunity, resources and support. For example, there’s no point pulling up an extra chair to the table if no one listens to what that person has to say, or they are intimidated into silence.

Equity is recognising that currently, different demographics face different challenges and some more than others. That doesn’t mean that those who don’t face these challenges are any less worthy, or their achievements mean less, it’s just acknowledging that they have not faced challenges that others have. Equity is recognising these unique barriers, removing them and ensuring that all our people have the appropriate support and opportunity to progress and engage.

So that’s a little “corporatey”, but in a nutshell, for me diversity, equity and inclusion are recognising that it’s our differences that make us stronger, better at our jobs and more open to new ideas. It’s really recognising that as a team, we are going to perform in a totally different way when everyone feels accepted and safe to show up as their full selves, to question, to support, to share ideas.

When I’m putting together a deck team, I make sure I’ve got a great mix, both mentally, physically and emotionally, someone tall, someone who’s super detail orientated, someone with some brawn, someone who’s had experiences totally different to myself etc. I want as many different skills, outlooks and mindsets as possible to build out a really strong, all-round team. If we all have the same strengths, we aren’t going to be able to perform anywhere near as good as a team with a good mix where everyone contributes. An analogy I use sometimes is that if you try to fix an engine with 10 of the same spanners, you’re not going to get very far.

In your opinion, what are the challenging aspects of creating a diverse working environment in the yachting industry? 

Wow.. where to start! Ha! To say there are many is an understatement but honestly, from what we have seen over the last 3 years it’s clear that as an industry, we have enough brilliant, passionate and committed individuals to know that we will get there.

There are big challenges around the basics like education on the topics, including sustainability as our industry seems to be stuck on this only being about the environment (Sustainability is in fact made up of three key areas, social, environmental and governance). Awareness and visibility are closely linked to this as well and although we are seeing this being talked about more- again, we have a long way to go!

Unconscious bias plays a big part in perpetuating the status quo and while we all have it, the deeply engrained social norms of our industry will require a lot of consistent work to unpick.

A lack of industry policy and standard practices is a big challenge. This is a big topic and when we tackle this one we will see a big jump forward in terms of professionalisation in general.

Visual and verbal representation needs a lot of work, who does our media present as an’ expert’, who gets the mic, who do we see in our photoshoots, websites and webinars.

A lack of data and real quantitative and qualitative feedback from all industry stakeholders makes identifying the REAL challenges faced tough. It’s one thing to take action on what you think might be the problem but without these insights, it’s really hard to know if your solving the problem you need to be solving.

Community outreach is MASSIVE. Right now, you only know about the industry if you know someone in it, follow someone on social media or have watched Below Deck. That means that we have some major work to do on how we connect with the next generation of talent.

A lack of accountability for discriminatory behaviour is true for a lot of area’s that need to evolve for this industry to professionalise.

I could go on and on ( and do most days) but these are a few of the big challenges currently being faced and addressed. All of our LEGASEA and She of the Sea outputs are designed to move us forward and past these barriers which you can check out here https://www.legasea.org.uk

What is your approach to understanding the perspectives of colleagues from diverse backgrounds?

Connect authentically. That means different things for different people but I always find the more I listen and am able to learn about people as WHOLE people, and not just ‘ the stew’ or ‘the captain’, the more I am able to connect and facilitate what inclusion, belonging and support means for that person, at that time. We are all complex and unique so there’s no tick box to this, but bringing in a framework of expectation and awareness that not everyone has to agree with every single thing is important. It’s also not our job to change people’s minds or cultures to fit our narrative, so acceptance is a big part.

What suggestions would you have in handling a situation where a colleague was being culturally insensitive, sexist, racist, or homophobic?

My advice for the crew in general should they not feel to be in a position of power to personally deal with the situation is to keep a log of everything, speak to your HOD or trusted colleague and if need be, follow the onboard complaints procedure. I do acknowledge though that quite often it’s potentially a HOD, or some other person in a position of power that may be the issue so this is not as easy or as straightforward as it sounds. As each scenario is so different, it’s hard to give a simple answer to this but from a personal point of view. Being clear on your boundaries is an amazing and powerful attribute, and if you find yourself in a space where they are being crossed, and don’t feel the leadership onboard is strong enough to deal with it, then my recommendation would be to leave. Again, not always as straight forward but I’m a big believer that no boat is worth impacting your mental, physical or emotional wellbeing and for every bigot out there, there is a professional, educated and open crew looking for good people.

What changes do you want to see in the yachting industry?

I would love to see the industry professionalised. It feels like it’s time, doesn’t it? It feels like as an industry ( and to be honest, as a landscape, it’s only really roughly 30ish years old) we are in our awkward teenage years. Growing quickly, becoming more visible, but haven’t really caught up with ourselves in terms of industry practice, standardising performance, all-around professionalism and at least matching global standards in some pretty important areas. The ‘Wild West’ days are disappearing into the rearview and I’m excited for what yachting’s next phase is going to look like.

What have you loved most since you started this journey?

The people. The boats are pretty cool but to be honest for me it’s all about the people.

What’s next for SOTS?

All our latest programs are here www.legasea.org.uk ! Super exciting stuff like Mentoring, the Speaker Bank, V2 of the Pledge, the Impact Academy… it’s a lot!

Diversity

Maritime Administration

Cyber Security IMO Regulations

Cyber Security IMO Regulations

Maritime Administration
Ignorance is bliss? Not when it comes to Cyber Security.

Technology plays a critical role in our daily lives. Technological advancements are blisteringly fast compared to previous years, which is why it has become an urgent topic of discussion. In this digital era of ubiquitous computing, organizations without Cyber Security are at risk. Land, air, water and cyber; it’s recognised as the fourth ground for nation-states. 

As the drive towards digital transformation continues to ceaselessly gather momentum, industries need to reassess their security strategies. By not properly protecting the attack surface, private and public sectors leave themselves exposed to possible breaches.

What is Cyber Security Management and why is it so important?

In short, all connected digital systems are prone to cyber-attacks. Expanding networking capabilities to all corners of our lives can make us more efficient, but more susceptible. 2020 catapulted industries online, with cyber security becoming a top priority for businesses. The pandemic has effectively become a catalyst for cyber security threats to rise exponentially, with all sectors being vulnerable. Connecting to the internet also means connecting to potential cyber threats. Attackers are always on the prowl to compromise systems. Generally, hackers are motivated by financial gain via corporate espionage or by acquiring personal data. Not having “top secret type government information” or “lifestyles of the rich and famous” does not make one untouchable.

Maritime Cyber Security Risk

While the threat is very real, the yachting industry has been quite lackadaisical until recently. Reality is – the fancier the yacht, the greater the risk. Adding complexities to ensure an immersive, bespoke experience, has resulted in modern superyachts closely resembling an enterprise-grade network. Vessels are more connected than ever before. Despite the cutting-edge technologies to allow for reliability, efficiency, and safety, cyber security seems to have fallen by the wayside. A breach is troubling in any business; however, consequences could be far more serious in the maritime environment. Don’t assume to know what hackers want. Money may not be the only motive, terrorism is a scary reality. “A successful breach of a vessel’s control systems can potential grant the assailant the ability to take control of bridge systems and control the vessel’s operational functions from anywhere in the world, in real time”, Super Yacht News

IMO Cyber Security Regulations

“When we talk about cyber security, it is not a matter of if you will be attacked but when. In order to deal with that, you should have a risk management approach on it and this what the IMO is introducing.” Mr. Chronis Kapalidis, Cyber Expert, HudsonAnalytix

Because of the ever-rising threat of an inevitable attack, the IMO has put cyber security regulations in place for compliance by 2021. The MSC-FAL.1/Circ.3 guidelines enforce a mechanism for dealing with risk rather than listing controls that should be implemented. Not reinventing the wheel, the IMO decided to build off established international frameworks for cyber risk management, adopting five functions that represent a holistic approach to cyber risk management: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, Recover. By taking this functional approach, captains and security officials have the flexibility to use their discretion to tailor a program that effectively meets the requirements of their vessel without becoming excessively onerous.

NIST Cyber Security Framework

Not industry or size specific, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (“CSF”) is a useful benchmark which the maritime industry can refer to when developing internal regulations and standards.

The CSF features five core functions,

  • Identify: Define personnel roles and responsibilities for cyber risk management and identify the systems, assets, data and capabilities that, when disrupted, pose risks to ship operations.
  • Protect: Implement risk control processes and measures, and contingency planning to protect against a cyber-event and ensure continuity of shipping operations.
  • Detect: Develop and implement activities necessary to detect a cyber event in a timely manner.
  • Respond: Develop and implement activities and plans to provide resilience and to restore systems necessary for shipping operations or services impaired due to a cyber-event.
  • Recover: Identify measures to back-up and restore cyber systems necessary for shipping operations impacted by a cyber-event.

Is your vessel ready for IMO’s Cyber Security compliance?

“It’s been decided that no later than the annual verification of each company’s Document of Compliance, the 1st of January 2021, all shipping companies will be mandated to ensure that cyber risks are appropriately addressed in existing safety management systems (as defined in the ISM Code)”, Pelion Consulting

With a strong background in the yachting sector, Virtual Pursers recommend Pelion Consulting to ensure Safety Management Systems are updated and ready for audit after the deadline date.

Maritime Administration

Virtual Pursers are not a yacht management company; we are an extension of your crew and act as a landbased bridge to your shoreside counterparts. As trusted yachting professionals with 20 years combined industry experience, we are here to help as well as to keep you informed on relevant industry related news and updates! For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.

Recruitment

What is ISM?

What is ISM?

Recruitment

The History of ISM

Otherwise known as International Safety Management, the ISM code has been integral to the SOLAS convention since 1994. The regulation came about due to investigations into accidents revealing errors on the part of management. It all started in 1987 when the Maritime Safety Committee developed guidelines concerning shore-based management to ensure the safe operation of ro-ro passenger ferries.

From July 1998, compliance became mandatory to all commercially operated vessels of 500 GT and above, including commercial yachts.

The Purpose of ISM

Safety of personnel and protecting the ocean remain the marine industries top concerns. The purpose of ISM is to ensure and maintain an international standard of safety for seafarers and prevention of pollution. Providing universal guidelines for the safe management and operation of ships at sea, the ISM is a common platform across all nationalities. This safety protocol eliminates discrepancies ensuring all vessels adhere to global mandatory regulations.

Safety Management System (SMS) & the Designated Person Ashore (DPA)

To effectively implement safety policies as set out by the ISM, “the Company” must establish a SMS for the vessel. Of which, a copy of the SMS must be readily available on-board. Detailing all the important policies, practices, and procedures, the SMS ensures compliance with the mandatory safety regulations recommended by the IMO and concerned maritime organizations. Yacht management companies should develop, implement and maintain a Safety Management System (SMS). Every company is expected “to designate a person or persons ashore having direct access to the highest level of management” in order to provide a link between “the Company” and those on board.

ISM Code particularly requires that the SMS incorporate the following

  • A safety and environmental protection policy;
  • Instructions and procedures to ensure safe operation of ships and protection of the environment in compliance with relevant international and flag state legislation;
  • Defined levels of authority and lines of communication between and among shore and shipboard personnel;
  • Procedures for reporting accidents and non-conformity with the provisions of the Code;
  • Procedures to prepare for and respond to emergency situations; and
  • Procedures for internal audits and management reviews.
Document of Compliance (DOC)

When the Company is verified for complying with the ISM Code, they will receive a Document of Compliance (DOC). Valid for a period of five years, the DOC is subject to annual verification within three months before or after the anniversary date confirming the approved SMS.

Safety Management Certificate (SMC)

For a DOC, the company’s ships must first receive their SMC. A SMC verifies that the Company and its shipboard management are operating in accordance with the approved SMS. The certificate issued to an individual ship has a validity period of five years.

An internal and external audit determines the issue of both the DOC and SMC. The company and ships carry out the internal audits, whereas, every 2-3 years, the ships flag state performs the external audit. To qualify, a manual consisting of information, records, reports or statements, indicating implementation of SMS by the company and the ship is required. This manual serves as proof of evidence based on observations, measurements or tests made during the audit. Failure to uphold the requirements of the ISM code will result in non-conformity, posing as a serious threat and requiring immediate corrective action.

To find out more about the ISM Code check out the International Maritime Organization

Some think the ISM code is a best practice, but it’s a minimum standard. Although super yachts have been engineered to be highly safe boats. The most critical safety element is the crew! Working alongside yacht management companies, well trained crew are paramount to the safety of the boat and its occupants.

Virtual Pursers are not a yacht management company; we are an extension of your crew and act as a landbased bridge to your shoreside counterparts. As trusted yachting professionals with 20 years combined industry experience, we are here to help as well as to keep you informed on relevant industry related news and updates! For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.

The Role of a Purser

The Role of a Purser

Size means everything in the superyacht world. Although, the bigger the yacht, the more pertinent the role of a Purser. As yachts increase in size, so do the administrative pressures faced by Captains and their shoreside counterparts. This explains the significant growth the Yacht Purser job role has had over the past few years. Soon, the role of a Purser will hold the same weight as the more familiar yacht crew jobs. Without a Purser, the ever-increasing regulations and administrative workload could be detrimental to the proper functioning of the vessel.

What is a Yacht Purser?

The need for a Purser exists on larger yachts with the sole purpose to ensure seamless operations. Under the Captain’s direction, the Purser is essentially responsible for the effective and smooth running of the vessel. As a senior crew member, the Purser manages several areas, including HR, accounts, interior, purchasing, inventory, and legal aspects. The role of the Purser is to be the single point of contact for all department heads. A credible and qualified Purser should create uniformity and streamline administrative duties, making them an invaluable asset to the Yacht.

What does the role of a Purser entail?

Pursers generally have multiple essential and important duties. Some of these tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Finance – Takes ownership of all fiscal matters including accounting, budgeting and bookkeeping
  • Buyer – Purchases everything needed to cater for crew and guests including food, drinks, uniform, cleaning products and more
  • Contracts and Negotiation – Liaise with suppliers and distributors to ensure the yacht is provisioned
  • Crew Administration – Will administer payroll for the crew and oversees all crew immigration
  • Yacht Administration – Organise port clearances, logistics and customs.
  • Charter Administration – If the yacht is chartered this will incur further responsibilities
  • Guest Activities – Liaise with guests and crew to organise activities

Industry experience required to become a Purser?

Eloquent communication skills, sound industry knowledge, first-hand experience, and an eye for detail are absolute must-haves for a Purser. Since the role of a Purser revolves around paperwork, efficient and accurate administration and accounting skills goes without saying.  

Although the job requirements may differ per yacht, in a nutshell, a well-rounded Purser should encompass the following

  • At least five years’ experience in the superyacht industry
  • Corporate land-based experience
  • Exceptional service, communication, organizational, diplomacy, and delegation skills
  • Excellent computer skills – proficient in Microsoft Office and various accounting software
  • A good understanding of maritime law
  • ISM and ISPS protocols
  • Financial management
  • Knowledge of cruising areas, including restaurant suggestions, shoreside activities
  • Provisioning around the globe
  • Excellent knowledge of wines
  • STCW & PSA
  • ENG 1 Medical

On-board vs shoreside Purser

An on-board Purser is self-explanatory. Land-based Pursers do everything an on-board purser does, just in a remote capacity. There are many reasons why yachts choose to outsource their yacht administration and opt for a shoreside Purser

  • Space – Can’t accommodate a Purser on-board 
  • Cost-effective – A dedicated Purser without the overheads
  • Flexibility – Don’t require a permanent employee or prefer flexibility with hours  
  • Staff retention – The Purser you’ll never lose

What salary can you expect as a Purser?

For an established onboard Purser, with great responsibility, comes great reward. The role of a Purser oversees business critical functions, so it is fair to expect just compensation and time off. The salary is largely dependent on the size of the vessel, however tools such YPI can provide a more-or-less ballpark figure. As per Yachting Pages, “pay for a Purser can range from roughly €4,000 to upwards of €7,000 per month” and will most likely include rotation. Most commonly 2 months on two months off, requiring vessels to employ two Pursers to cover the one role.

How can the role of a Purser assist you?

A superyacht is essentially a business and as such should operate as one. Without a Purser, large yachts may struggle to function effectively, let alone maintain the high standard of service that on-board guests expect. The role of a Purser is established to assist the Captain and Chief Officer to alleviate the administrative duties, eliminating stress through saving time and effort. With twenty years combined experience, Virtual Pursers are industry experts who understand first-hand the ever-increasing administrative pressures faced by the maritime industry. Offering a flexible approach, Virtual Pursers are readily available to support all vessels, no matter the size of the yacht or the extent of the need, as well as other maritime professionals such as Yacht/Fleet Managers, Charter Brokers, Marinas/Shipyards. An ideal solution for yachts that are fully crewed, have minimal space on-board, or who don’t necessarily require full-time support. As well as yachts who have an established Purser, supporting shortfalls and as a temporary solution. Using Virtual Pursers guarantees continuity in a cost-effective manner, introducing the concept of “The Purser You’ll Never Lose”; retaining all the information and experience that comes with a great Purser, for years to come.

Q & A with co-founder of Virtual Pursers Bec McKeever

How did you become a Purser?

I came into yachting with a background in accounting, not planning to utilise my past life profession at all actually. My first yacht with the infamous M/Y Octopus, at 126m she is a beauty! I was instantly in awe with the Chief Stewardess & Purser but it wasn’t until a year or two into yachting that I started thinking about a career path and that I had the potential to climb the ranks. I was Chief Stew for a few years before Purser. Two very different roles but a lot of personal and professional development in the Chief Stew role, I believe, that really makes a positive difference to your ability in the Purser role.

Do you think you need yachting experience to be a Purser?

Yachting is so different to any other industry and experience within it lays a solid foundation, it’s the integral part of becoming a successful Purser.

What’s your favourite aspect of being a Purser?

Having my finger on the pulse and being able to orchestrate the logistics of the entire vessel. It’s so rewarding to see my plan come into action and be pulled together, especially when you have a bit of OCD.

Q & A with co-founder of Virtual Pursers Dominique Smit

Do you have to be a Chief Stew before you become a purser?

Even though it is a completely different role, it is recommended that you have some Chief Stew experience before you become a Purser. Not only will it give you a better sense of responsibility and leadership but it allows you to work closer with other department heads and gives you a better sense of how the different departments function together and the bigger picture of how the boat functions overall which is essential for the purser position.

Would you recommend doing a Purser course?

I would definitely recommend training for the role of Purser, background knowledge is essential and any additional training is always beneficial. However, do your research before you pick a course. Having a mentor to guide me through my career has been invaluable so if you do have anyone you trust, ask for their advice.

Was it always your goal to become a Purser?

I didn’t start yachting with the goal to become a Purser, I didn’t even know what a Purser was in the beginning! But as my career evolved, I started enjoying the constant challenges each new position brought and the Purser position is so stimulating and every day is different that I felt like it would be the perfect job for me.

Virtual Pursers trusted business model intends to revolutionize the yachting industry by providing an innovative, cost effective, practical shoreside solution. A dedicated Purser without the overheads. The Purser you’ll never lose. For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.

Cyber Security in the Super Yachting World

Cyber Security in the Super Yachting World

High-profile owner and guest information is top priority and needs to be completely protected. Cyber Security attacks are generally aimed at accessing/destroying sensitive information, or extorting and stealing money. This is the last thing guests want to deal with whilst trying to enjoy a relaxing holiday. Many yachts lack the most basic security measures and yet, they need them the most. Crew also need to be educated on simple measures to protect their personal devices which may contain sensitive information pertaining to the vessel and guests.

Virtual Pursers understand the risks associated with Cyber Security in the Super Yachting World and have taken all the preventative action necessary. Our services have considered the top 5 cyber security threats.

Ransomware is a form of malicious software that attempts to scramble your data

An obvious but often overlooked form of protection against this type of malware is to back everything up. By merely backing up, you can, in large part, mitigate this risk. It’s also a good idea for business continuity for apparent reasons. Doing this with a cloud-based storage provider that automatically backs up your entire file system is best, as distributing your data as widely as possible makes it inherently more resilient to any loss. There are several providers such as iDrive and Backblaze, but it’s a good idea to shop around.

Phising is an attempt to gain sensitive information by posing as a trustworthy contact

This often comes in the form of a fake email in order to gain an urgent payment or personal information. At Virtual Pursers, we use G-suite and an anti-virus to mitigate these kinds of emails. Here are some points to remember when it comes emails:

  • Remember that email, on the whole, is completely insecure. Being the digital equivalent of a postcard, it’s easy for anyone to intercept and read. Never send anything commercially or financially sensitive via email, especially bank details, credit card numbers, etc.
  • Never, ever, click on any link in an email from an unknown source. Just one click can open you up to a considerable number of attacks, even if nothing seems to have changed/happened.
  • Do not open any attachments from anyone unless you are expecting them. Word docs and Excel sheets are especially risky, but viruses and other malicious code can be hidden in nearly any type of file, even images.
  • Be mindful of the email source, especially if a known contact suddenly says that they’re using another email account (personal, etc.) out of the blue. Always call to confirm.
  • Anyone’s email addresses can be spoofed (faked), so if a known contact suddenly sounds somehow different, then don’t be shy about checking that everything is ok and that it is them!

Data Leakage and hacking are two major problems in the modern-day working environment

There are a few simple ways to counteract these one of which is to use decent antivirus/security software. Whereas both Windows 10 and macOS are relatively secure, they’re both susceptible to spyware, viruses, etc. Even Macs, who people think are generally “virus-proof” out of the box, really aren’t. Installing good antivirus/firewall software is an absolute must for any laptop or desktop used in a professional capacity. Virtual Pursers prefer Norton, however there are alternatives such as BitdefenderKaspersky. Avast is the only trusted free software option.

Use two-factor authentication whenever you can 

This ensures that even if somebody gets hold of your credentials or passwords, they cannot log in to anything with additional security. There are various ways to do this and there are a few built in systems on some programs that send a code to your cell-phone, for instance.  Virtual Pursers use Yubikey’s, a physical USB key for both hardware and software access.

Be careful how you connect to WiFi networks and use a VPN where possible

Never, ever, connect to an insecure public WiFi network that does not require a password. If you have to connect to any network outside of your own trusted office or home network, then it’s vital that you use a VPN or “Virtual Private Network.” VPN services create a secure data “tunnel” from your device, directly through to another secure server elsewhere in the world. This makes you a whole lot more secure and prevents anyone from intercepting your data. There are several options out there, but ExpressVPN is a recommended one as they’re fast, reliable, and they offer apps for all major platforms that make it very, very easy to setup. 

Always stay updated to the latest version or the operating system

The moment a new version comes out, an army of both good and bad hackers try breaking into it. As soon as they find vulnerabilities, believe it or not, the good guys tell either Apple or Microsoft before the bad guys can exploit them, and patches and updates are released straight away.

G-Suite, the ideal Cloud-based ecosystem for Cyber Security in the Super Yachting World

Not only highly recommended, but Virtual Pursers prefer this robust cloud computing platform because of the archiving and collaborative abilities. G-Suite makes it extremely easy for both in-house and external clients to share and contribute. It’s also a reliable environment to keep all your documents, files, email attachments, etc. With G Suite data is kept away from local devices and potential cyber security threats. 

Cyber Security Regulations to be in place by 1 January 2021

With the assistance of International Maritime Organization, vessels can mitigate threats by adhering to the Guidelines on Maritime Cyber Risk Management. The recommendations are complementary and can be easily incorporated into existing risk management processes. By 1 January 2021, The Maritime Safety Committee require all administrations to ensure that cyber risks are appropriately addressed in existing safety management systems (as defined in the ISM Code).

We understand the risk of Cyber Security in the Super Yachting World so you can rest assured knowing that your safety is our top priority. Virtual Pursers – The future of seamlessly, effortlessly, and efficiently navigating yacht administration. For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413. 

 

Stress and Time Management for Yachting Professionals

Stress and Time Management for Yachting Professionals

In the unpredictable and fast-paced world of yachting, it is critical for Crew to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Failing to do so will result in stress, burnout and a potential safety hazard. Stress and time management are essential when operating a vessel. However, stress is unavoidable when Pursers, Captains and Senior Crew find themselves overwhelmed by the ever-increasing yachting pressures.

No rest for the wicked

The human body needs rest to refuel and reenergise, similar to the need for food to function. “No” is not a word in the yachting vocabulary – anything and everything is possible. To go the extra mile, Pursers, Captains and Senior Crew often reprioritise for the sake of the Charter. Overtime becomes a harsh reality, forcing crew to falsify information regarding hours of work and rest.

In accordance to the MCL 2006, the minimum hours of rest for all seafarers are:

  • A minimum of 10 hours in any 24 hour period
  • A minimum of 77 hours in any seven day period

This is laughable to some crew as the minimum is a far reach on trips with demanding Charters and Owners.

Stress, a familiar friend

Lack of sleep, guest expectations, yachting administration, overtime, these are just some of the pressures associated with running a vessel. Due to the nature of the job, stress is a familiar friend for most Yachtie’s. Other than being extremely dangerous, stress also severely impacts mental health and concentration, hindering productivity and wellbeing. Not knowing how to deal with these pressures will result in a snowball effect and an inevitable downward spiral.  

Unlike any other occupation

ISS Captains Committee have identified a few problematic characteristics associated with crewing on a yacht. These unique features include

  • Living in an environment that must appear to be “perfect” at all times,
  • A lack of empathy from shore support network i.e. misdirected envy from loved ones, not understanding the yachting environment/pressures.
  • Demanding physical and mental working conditions,
  • Long hours of work creating high levels of stress and fatigue, and
  • Employment insecurity where the slightest perceived failure can result in being dismissed on a whim with all the attendant stress.
Simple changes to assist with Stress and Time Management

Virtual Pursers are the ideal shore-side solution to restore a healthy work environment. This is achieved through relieving pressure from Captains and Pursers who are unable to get through their daily administration. With 20 years combined industry experience, the team know first-hand the trials and tribulations associated with yachting. Virtual Pursers understand yachting pressures and offer a simple solution for stress and time management. It’s ok to hand over work that can be easily outsourced. In doing so, valuable time is freed up for both the Captain and Purser to focus on running the vessel. Together, Virtual Pursers and the vessels crew can work towards achieving the ultimate goal of keeping the client happy. It’s a win-win situation.

Virtual Pursers – The future of seamlessly, effortlessly, and efficiently navigating yacht administration. For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.

Crew Portal

The Future of Yachting Administration

The Future of Yachting Administration

Crew Portal
The Purser you’ll never lose.

It’s an industry reality that a Purser’s career comes to a standstill when wanting to start a family. The unfortunate trend of wasting years of experience when moving life ashore is responsible for the birth of Virtual Pursers.

With over twenty years combined industry experience, the founders of Virtual Pursers identified a gap in the market for seamless yachting administration and sailed full steam ahead.

Coronavirus has revolutionized the workspace, forcing businesses into uncharted waters. Working 9-5 from an office is ancient history and businesses need to adapt or they will capsize. With the technology available today, working remotely is now considered the “new normal” and with it comes endless opportunity. Virtual Pursers have in turn revolutionized the yachting industry by offering practical, innovative and relevant shore-side solutions through reducing overheads and retaining skilled staff – introducing concepts such as “The Purser you’ll never lose”.  

Effortlessly and efficiently navigating yachting administration.

The team at Virtual Pursers used Lockdown to their advantage, concentrating all efforts to develop a thoroughly detailed business model. Adopting the EOS business model, Virtual Pursers have implemented development tools that businesses usually only consider years down the line. The forward-thinking model, focuses on instilling values that create a positive, growth orientated atmosphere both personally and professionally, all while maintaining job satisfaction and enjoyment.  

With seamless integration at the forefront, Virtual Pursers have ensured user friendly processes that are legally compliant. Having worked with different personalities, Virtual Pursers are aware of the importance to not have a one-size-fits-all approach. With access to numerous platforms, the team are able to tailor their business relationships to the Captain or Senior Crew’s preferences. Understanding the risks and concerns associated with virtualization, the team have made cyber security a top priority, working specifically with Gmail, Outlook, Yubikeys, Macs and Norton Anti-Virus Software.

The ideal solution for yachts ranging from 40 – 65 meters

Virtual Pursers are an ideal solution for yachts that need a Purser but are unable to accommodate a Purser onboard. The expert team are readily available and can easily fulfill the role of a Purser virtually from anywhere in the world. Alternatively, the team can also relieve pressure from Pursers who find themselves overwhelmed during the busy seasons, or whilst dealing with guests on board. From experience, Virtual Pursers are oh so familiar with the pressure associated with yachting administration as well as the importance of stress and time management. Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Trusted and experienced yachting professionals

Our services fulfill the role of a Purser, just virtually. Without overhead costs, the experienced and knowledgeable team will free up time for you to attend to guests and to focus on running the yacht.  Whether it be a once-off project or monthly service, Virtual Pursers alleviate stress by taking care of excess yachting administration by allowing ALL vessels access to a Purser service no matter the size of the vessel or the extend of the need.

Crew Portal

Virtual Pursers – The future of seamlessly, effortlessly, and efficiently navigating yacht administration. For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.