5 things to look for in a good project manager

Written by Laura Nicholls

Selecting a project manager should be an easy decision. With a wealth of knowledge in boatbuilding, architecture and engineering, a project manager will bridge the gap between shipyard and client and work alongside certified and skilled engineers, naval architects and interior designers. As some refit negotiations and projects are historically the responsibility of the captain, project management companies are taking over to help make such projects a less stressful and more enjoyable experience for any superyacht client.  Project manager meetingPhoto: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesAs the company continues to expand, the team at Hill Robinson were the perfect point of contact when SuperYacht Times decided to investigate what it takes to be an expert project manager and help shape refit projects of the future and their team. So, what does it take to be a good project manager?Business meetingPhoto: Thomas DrouaultBe there from the very beginning

The best time to begin to enquire about contractual arrangements and negotiations is when the yacht is in still in use. A professional project manager will be able to establish a contract for work on an existing superyacht to help dictate how the duration of the build will pan out. 

The project manager should be present from the very beginning of the refit process to ensure that the job is successful in both time and outcome. This also alleviates some pressure from the already busy captain and team. The dynamic between a captain and project manager should be clear: the captain is an expert on the yacht and can verify the scope of the work that is required, whereas the project manager should make the plan, implement the contract and deal with the complexities. Project manager meetingPhoto: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesAs every project is different, the project manager would start by producing a feasibility study, taking into consideration various shipyards’ expertise, availability, business credentials, commercial stability and which works are the priority for the superyacht in question. 

Shipyards have to abide by ever-evolving regulations that can affect factors - such as CO2 emissions, fuels that involve sulphur, hybrid technology and storing energy. All of these considerations are what a project manager will be tasked with and factor into the bidding process and assessing the yard's capability. Aviva yacht at shipyard Make sure the perfect yard is chosen

Selecting the right yard for the works is an all-important decision for the project manager as it will influence the success of the project and is not something that can be easily rectified. The initial study and yard selection process taken on by the project manager will be specially tailored to the superyacht and help to clarify costs, quality of the outcome and factor in any special or difficult requests. For example, a hull extension can only be carried out by a number of yards, which would also preferably be located conveniently within the yacht’s cruising grounds. Giles Hunt - Deputy Director/Head of Techncial - Hill RobinsonAs Pino di Mora, Hill Robinson’s Senior Project Manager explains: “Compared to other projects like major refits or new-builds, an extension refit has always been one of the most difficult projects due to the number of unpredictable issues and differences between old and new structures, existing and new equipment, upgraded systems using old wiring and pipes etc. It is not something necessarily that just any yard can cope with and requires accurate technical studies.” Pino di Mora - Senior Project Manager - Hill RobinsonNegotiations with any shipyard will also assess the yard’s level of flexibility and whether the work can be completed in the available time-slot. Having found the right yard, time management processes and tools, such as those specially developed by Hill Robinson, can help to ensure that the work is completed as per the schedule with time available for the appropriate testing, classification and flag surveys. Aviva yacht at shipyard Have a healthy portfolio to hand

When a client is able to refer to a management company’s past achievements, it is not only reassuring but can help show the range of refit possibilities that good, professional project management can achieve. Aviva, the 68-metre creation by Abeking & Rasmussen, spent the summer sitting in the Savannah Yacht Center graving dock as part of the extensive refit project managed by the team at Hill Robinson. Aviva left the yard in mid-September looking brand new with her freshly repainted hull and superstructure, serviced generators and new air compressors. Working in close collaboration with painting specialists Pinmar, Aviva received some small additional, but critical, upgrades that were completed under budget. Eternity yacht in AntiguaPhoto: Merijn de Waard / SuperYacht TimesAs Chris Wright, Hill Robinson’s Senior Project Manager explains: “With a proven Hill Robinson project management process in place, coupled with the Pinmar applications process, the successful outcome was never in doubt.” 

Chris was also involved in the major refit of the 65-metre superyacht Eternity that hit the headlines late last year. Berthed in the Albany Marina owned by the Baha Mar resort, the previously private superyacht Eternity is now part of the luxury resort’s offerings for clients and residents. The refit project was a collaborative effort between Captain Aldon Beukman and the Hill Robinson team and involved an extensive scope of work in order to bring Eternity to the high standard expected by the Baha Mar resort guests. With the budget confirmed and a time-slot of 22 weeks at Rybovich in Palm Beach, Eternity received a major overhaul to her engines, generators, hydraulic appendages and cranes, a full interior redesign and AVIT upgrades of all entertainment and navigation systems. Eternity at Rybovich in Palm BeachCome with a team of certified experts

Owning a yacht should be a pleasant experience and a privilege, even more so when the pressure of managing a yacht is alleviated. With the help of a professional project management team, captains can be supported more, allowing them to invest more time into caring for the vessel and its crew. Hill Robinson Technical TeamAlthough the knowledge obtained in a vital role such as that of the captain can be of great assistance to the project, they should be able to rely on an experienced project management team. For example, during the refit of Eternity, Hill Robinson and the project manager, Chris Wright, were able to work together with the yacht crew but took on the majority of work that only a project manager would be able to administer. “The complex and challenging refit work to Eternity was in part achieved with the direct involvement and support of the captain and his phenomenal crew, but also by detailed planning and knowing the right vendors to call. As many projects managers have experienced, you don’t know what you’re going to get until things are opened up, so being able to plan for the unexpected is vital.” Designer designingPhoto: Daniel McculloughAs proven by their impressive portfolio, Hill Robinson continue to maintain their position as one of the leading independent yacht management companies around. The company has continued to expand and now offer clients in-house technical services from a highly qualified team boasting a multitude of qualifications including procurement, legal, accounting and administration specialists. Eternity at Rybovich in Palm BeachBe stationed in a convenient and accessible location

Since the expansion of the internet, communication with clients across various facets of the industry has improved and reshaped the way that some companies work. Thanks to the internet and remote workspaces, those who assist in running yachts safely and efficiently can be positioned in any location to deliver a more compressed and efficient support package. In turn, this allows companies to expand their global footprint and deploy a team of personnel which can be present in various locations. Opening new offices opening regularly, Hill Robinson can be found at key yachting centres such as Monaco, Fort Lauderdale, Palma de Mallorca and Australia to help even more clients throughout their refit journey. Eternity at Rybovich in Palm Beach
To find out more about Hill Robinson’s services, project management team and global network, contact them directly using the details below. 



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