Sandra Jordaan, CEO of The Yacht Purser
The estimated 500 to 1,000 pursers globally in the yacht industry have a champion in dedicated superyacht trainer The Yacht Purser. Deborah McPherson interviews CEO Sandra Jordaan on her efforts to create a more structured career for pursers and some of the challenges Covid has thrown up.
Sandra Jordaan embarked on her yachting career in 2006 after graduating from university with an honours degree in commerce. She nearly followed in her father's footsteps as an airline pilot and made it through a rigorous selection process for cadet pilots with South African Airways, but she changed path after landing her first yacht job in Barcelona during the final cadet pilot interviews and never looked back.
After a 10-year yachting career spanning charter and explorer yachts over seven continents – and the onset of motherhood – she set up her online training company, The Yacht Purser, two years ago, aiming to help aspiring pursers, newly qualified yacht officers, chief stewards, and even masters who want to learn more about managing yacht administration and logistics.
She started the concept for The Yacht Purser when she first moved into a purser role: 'I felt very unsupported. Most people step up to purser from the interior, not that this is a necessity, but if you do, you usually move from working in a team into a solo position with no guidance or mentorship.
'There is a massive lack of structure, information, guidance and support for the purser role. No two yachts have the same job description for a purser. The role varies drastically depending on the owner, family office, if the yacht has a management company, whether it is operated commercially (for charter) or not, and where it will be cruising.'
She says both the industry and superyacht owners are starting to appreciate the need for suitably trained pursers.
A yacht purser is an administrative officer onboard a yacht generally larger than 65m long and usually has a more diverse role than a cruise ship purser. Cruise ships tend to have dedicated pursers for each function onboard such as hotel or payroll. A yacht purser must have an excellent grasp of the yachting regulatory environment and maritime law, importation and exportation procedures, immigration, human resources, as well as an understanding of accounting and procedures, destination knowledge, and be well-versed in MS Office and other yacht specific software.
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