Today's blog post features the introduction to one of our Women in Marine members, Marija Knego. Through the Q&A below discover how Marija made her way through boating and what would she advise to younger generations joining the industry.
1.Could you tell us a bit about your educational background and how that lead you to your current position?
Upon finishing high school in Zagreb, I was eager to enroll at RIT Croatia (Rochester Institute of Technology) in Dubrovnik, to achieve a Bachelor Degree in international hospitality and service management.
I considered RIT as a perfect fit for me since the courses were in English, and they offered accounting, leadership & innovation, HR and crisis management courses, as well as Italian, Russian and German language courses.
Studying at RIT helped me gain extensive knowledge in the above-mentioned fields, and also taught me on the importance of team work and emotional intelligence. I am grateful to our lovely professors, who pushed and cared for us - they wanted to see their students succeed. Finally, professors who valued quality content and critical thinking rather than focusing solely on the number of pages a student has submitted for their essay.
These skills helped me get a better understanding of people’s behaviour and tendencies in general. I was ready to start working in the booking department at Euromarine and start my journey in sales.
2. What sparked your initial interest for boating?
Company Euromarine d.o.o. has been established in 1993 by my father- Capt. Mario Knego, hence I have always been surrounded by boats and the sea. At the age of 7, I started attending summer sailing classes in JK Orsan, Dubrovnik, hence my first experience alone in a sailboat was in Optimist.
I would say boating is the center of my family's lifestyle. Even though I grew up in Zagreb, my parents made sure we use every day off to get to the shore. We all share love for sea and boating; hence I knew early on, that I would love be part of this industry as well.
Besides my father, I am happy to work with my two brothers as well. My brother Žarko, being the oldest and wisest, already had a lot of experience in this industry when I started working, and I was lucky to be able to learn a lot from him, and also from my dear colleagues.
3. What was the main enabler of your business?
Earlier, charterers were mostly experienced sailors. These guests came to sail exclusively while convenience and comfort were not the top priority. In addition, there was no need of the hostess or skipper service, cockpit cushions or GPS plotter to be placed in cockpit. Comfort and/or luxury were not the incentive for these guests. This trend switched due globalisation and introduction of new technologies in terms of navigation, comfort, ergonomics. Review platforms encouraged transparency; higher standards in chartering naturally emerged and enabled a new experience of sailing for different niche customers. This sparked the need for hiring skippers, deckhands, hostesses and professional cooks on board. Instead of being solely in charge for safety and navigation, skippers became guest's personal ”agents” and advisors on board. They would provide with restaurant recommendations and personalise the itinerary, take a nice photo for the guest’s Instagram page, and sometimes prepare breakfast.
Furthermore, introduction of online platforms such as NauSYS, MMK, Sedna, Yachsts allowed clients and agents to be only a couple of clicks away from booking a sailing vacation, no matter the time zone or location.
4. What advice would you give to young people who are interested to work in boating, but lack that final motivational push?
I would encourage young people to keep an open mind when searching for a job in the boating industry. Similar to other industries, the “Behind The Scenes” process involves various stakeholders, hence there are a lot of opportunities for people with different interests, such as IT, customer support, front desk, maintenance, booking, sales & marketing, accounting & finance, administration, or HR.
5. What would you state as the main benefits of working close to marine?
Besides ability to choose from a diverse range of career paths in the marine industry, a young person will expand their network and connect with different people with various interests and lifestyles. This industry offers young people an opportunity to travel, explore and expand their skills in a unique way.
6. Lastly, where would you advise young people to start their networking?
Networking is an efficient way of building professional relationships from which young people could benefit in terms of knowledge, innovation, and future cooperation. There is a number of possibilities for young professionals to engage in both building new relationships, and strengthening the existing ones. This includes volunteering, attending industry-related events, and engaging with youth associations such as Misli More. Being involved with such associations will help young professionals (and those who would like to become that) get an insight on the many opportunities the marina industry has to offer.
Euromarine is currently hiring! Check out their open positions in lovely Split on the link.