Benigna von Brederlow: Displaying her true DNA at Safinah Group

Offered By Safinah Group

Our latest Women in Yachting interview focuses on the career of a woman who never went looking for the yachting industry... it found her.

Having achieved a PhD in Human Genetics, it’s fair to say Benigna von Brederlow had no eyes on a move into the world of yachting when she completed her studies. Her interests lay in biology and, specifically, genetics. But things change, and whilst her passion for the industry wasn’t hereditary there’s no doubting that she’s putting her heart and soul into it now.

In the role of head of yacht at Safinah Group, von Brederlow works closely with clients and is tasked with being adaptable to cater to their unique needs and demands. Much like Ralitsa Mihaylova, another of our Women in Yachting who also works at Safinah Group, she is used to being one of the few females in her profession. She lifts the lid on her backstory, how she wound up in yachting and why it’s important not to be put off by perceptions of gender inequality when embarking on your career.

Benigna von Brederlow profile photo

Did you have a particular passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects (that traditionally appeal more to male students) when you were younger?

Yes, definitely. In school I was good in STEM, and really bad in languages and anything else that traditionally appeal more to female pupils.

I attended a girl’s school (except my last two and a half years) and there was a time when there was discussions about it becoming a mixed school. There was a talk from a woman presenting some research results, showing that girls learning with girls have better chances to become really good in STEM skills and jobs.

That’s many years ago, but at that time they said the way boys and girls are learning STEM subjects is slightly different, and when taught together, generally boys take over and dominate the girls, and the girls are stopped putting more effort in it. Not sure if this is still correct, but it didn’t harm me.

How long have you been in yachting and what is your role?

I started in the yachting industry 12 years ago and today I am head of yacht for Safinah Group. It might be interesting for readers to know that the rest of the yacht team are all male!

Safinah Group office team

What was your first role in yachting?

Making coffee and answering the phone!

My first job in the yachting industry was offered to me because of my energy, enthusiasm and my talent for organising. The wife of my boss saw me organising an event and said, ‘this is the person we need to organise my husband’s chaotic office’. We started with three people and developed into one of the marketing leaders with about 20 workers. I left that job in the position of COO (chief operating officer).

What does a typical day hold for you as head of yacht at Safinah Group?

Surprises. That is what you have to learn very quickly in our industry. The clients are sometimes really slow in decision making, but once decided, they want it quickly… or now. Many are used to getting everything immediately. So planning is good, but you need to be very open to quick changes.

And this often effects your private life, of course.

Have you always wanted to be a head of yacht and what path did you take to arrive here?

Honestly? I never really thought of it until it found me. For my current position, I was ready to make a change and leave so when I was approached by Safinah Group, it was like my job found me.

Benigna von Brederlow working aboard a superyacht

Has your gender ever held you back in your career?

No, I don’t think so. But you might need to fight harder sometimes. But in other occasions you have an advantage. Interestingly people very often only see when they have a disadvantage, and they complain, but they forget the 1,000 other moments when it was easier for them.

What advice would you give to your 15 year old self?

Be less critical of other people and their opinions or ways of being.

My CV is not straightforward at all. I studied Biology and have a PhD in Human Genetics, and now I am working as a yacht paint consultant. Even though my way was not straightforward, I have always done what was right for me at that time. And this is a recommendation I would give to others if asked: Stay as you are and be open to new things that might have never crossed your mind before. I would not be where I am if I wasn’t open to new challenges. Challenges are great, embrace them and go for it.

I was not really a good pupil, very lazy. When my father asked me one day at dinner (I was the oldest of three children) what topic I would be interested in studying when I’d finished school, my mum answered, ‘you can’t let her go to university’. So, I was lazy and didn’t learn if I was not being pushed. When we had genetics in school, I knew that this is what I was interested in and I made my way through. I think you need to be really interested to be good in it. So, my advice: Find what you like and go for it, and if you change, change your goals, and go for that instead.

What advice would you give to the next generation of women in yachting?

Don’t think about being a woman and whether there is a difference. Think of what you want to do and do it. If you are good in what you are doing, and you really want it, that is all that counts.

Safinah Group

Safinah Group is an expert in coating and engineering, with a worldwide reputation for delivering innovative and effective solutions which reduce cost, extend asset lifespan and minimise environmental impact.

A leading consultant to the marine, energy and infrastructure, and yacht markets, Safinah Group prides itself on ensuring high quality and consistent levels of service.

If you're interested in pursuing a role as yacht crew, search for Crew Agents in the Yachting Pages directory. Alternatively you can enjoy a host of other interviews in our Women in Yachting series.

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