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It was in 1999 that I attended the Lloyd’s List annual awards in the Painted Hall at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich. I was there to collect the Youth and Training Award from William O’Neil, the then head of IMO, for a presentation I had written on seafarer development with my employer Reederei “NORD” Klaus E. Oldendorff of Limassol, Cyprus, where I was the General Manager.

At the dinner I sat with Phil Parry and Stephen Cox. We enjoyed a very pleasant evening and they told me about their company, Spinnaker Consulting, set up 2 years previously, concentrating on executive recruitment for the marine industry.

Their ideas caught my attention because we had just been through a difficult recruitment process in finding a Tanker Fleet Manager. Klaus Oldendorff the owner of Reederei “NORD” decided he wanted to move into the tanker trades. But we were traditionally a container and bulk carrier operator. I had sailed on tankers as a cadet, but that was our only experience. So we would have to bring people in and set up a tanker team. At that time we did not feel there was really a suitable recruitment agency to help us. So placing adverts in many publications, sifting through the hundreds of CV’s and then flying around the world interviewing was entirely an in-house job and very time consuming. I am glad to say we were successful because Klaus Oldendorff decided to dive straight in and ordered 7 newbuildings – 6 Aframax tankers and 1 VLCC!

A few years later I was faced with finding a new Technical Director for Reederei “NORD”. Remembering my previous experience of recruiting for a senior position I did not hesitate to give Spinnaker a call. It was so much easier. A selection of carefully chosen CVs arrived on my desk and a shortlist was made. Interviews were arranged for 1 day in London and at the end of that day I had a new Technical Director

Moving onto 2004, I was reading Lloyd’s List one Thursday morning and a Spinnaker advert caught my eye. It was for a Director of a company looking after a fleet of superyachts. It was very different from what I was doing, but maybe my many years working on cruise liners would help? I gave Phil a call and we discussed the position. He said, knowing me, that actually I would suit the position well. Later that day an interview had already been arranged.

The first interview went well and a second meeting was arranged. There had been an air of secrecy surrounding the position but at the second interview all became clear when I met Roman Abramovich at Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea football ground. He explained why he wanted a commercial shipping person to manage his fleet and what he wanted to achieve. At the end of the interview he offered me the job and agreed that I could stay living in Cyprus.

After years of working for other people I decided recently that I should try developing my own business before I become too old. So in May 2009 I left Roman Abramovich and moved into a small office in central Limassol. I have teamed up with one of the big shipmanagers here, Uniteam Marine, so I can use their well established infrastructure to support the company in its early days. The main aim of the company is the provision of management services to large yachts. Though we are also working on other ideas such as chartering out sailing yachts in Myanmar and developing a yacht crew training school in Yangon.

It is exactly 10 years ago that I first met Phil and Stephen in Greenwich. In that time Spinnaker have developed into the leading maritime recruitment agency. I hope I can achieve the same sort of success with UNITEAM YACHTING.

Jonathan Holloway

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