Expectations of a superyacht project manager

Written by Michael Henson

Expectations of a superyacht project manager. Some may see a project manager as an unnecessary cost or another chain of command that may slow decisions down, but the need of a project manager is vital to shipyard projects.


With the increasing sophistication, regulatory requirements and technological complexities of today’s superyacht industry, even the most experienced owners, undertaking projects at the most experienced shipyards, will need to rely on expert project managers to ensure that projects are completed on time and budget.

Constructing a brand new superyacht, or refitting one is not always plain sailing for often projects will last a number of months, if not years, and once things start to go wrong they can easily gather momentum and quickly turn a superyacht dream into a nightmare.

When recruiting a yacht project manager, there are vital points to look out for:

Background is key

Yacht owners should look for someone who has been to sea, has proven boatbuilding or shipbuilding experience, and some business background. These years spent in the marine industry will have hardwired them to understand issues on board that those outside of the industry may well over look.


The project manager will be working closely with the owner or owners’ representatives for a considerable length of time, therefore trust is necessary. The project manager will be speaking on behalf of the owner, so it is imperative that they can be trusted to advocate the owner’s wishes accurately.

Team player

The project manager will be part of a large team that includes the owner’s representatives, yacht captain, broker, legal expert, supervising surveyor and even a chief engineer or engineering team. Ensuring professionalism along with strong leadership capabilities could not be more essential for the position.

Negotiation skills

Being a good negotiator makes for a more efficient project manager. Times wasted on disagreements are detrimental to a superyacht project as disagreements generally cost thousands in relation to the scale of the projects.

A skilled yacht project manager will reach agreements quickly, finding solutions to tough problems and keeping work moving ahead easily.

Proven yacht project management experience

Yachting Pages has identifies ten key points for proven project management experience and ability. An established project manger should be able to:

1)     Define the scope of work, owners/shipyards requirements and project goals

2)     Identify work required to achieve yacht goals

3)     Prepare timelines of key construction milestones

4)     Identify resources required to achieve milestones

5)     Track and report project progress

6)     Plan and manage resources

7)     Manage client communications

8)     Manage superyacht quality

9)     Manage changes to superyacht designs and its effect on timeline and budget

10)  Ensure project goals are met

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