8 March 2019

OUR INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN

Happy International Women’s Day! We wanted to take a moment to celebrate the great work done by women at Burgess. The superyacht industry can be perceived as a very male-dominated environment and we’re delighted to be able to adjust that perception on this day of days.

We spoke to five of the Burgess team to find out who inspires the women who inspire us. There are no rules: these inspirational figures can be alive or dead, real or fictional, famous or family. We just wanted to hear how they helped each of these women to succeed with Burgess.

Anita Reagan
Administration Manager, Company Operations, New York 

When I was in kindergarten my teacher, Sister Georgia, asked all of us 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' As we went around the group we had cops, nurses, firemen and plenty of teachers, all of which drew applause and a nod from Sister. When my turn came I answered 'I want to be a quarterback in the NFL.' Snickers and laughter greeted my answer and Sister didn’t nod. At the end of class she told me I couldn’t be a quarterback because that job was only for men in the football league. 

My Mom picked me up after school and asked about my day. I told her what happened and I asked her 'Mama what do I do now?' She looked at me and said 'Anita, you start your own league,' and told me to stay away from small-minded people. 

The next day I confidently went up to Sister Georgia and told her 'My mama said I can start my own league and you have a small brain.'

I carry my Mama’s words with me every day as I navigate the sometimes-turbulent waters of the yachting industry and hope that my actions and attitude help other women to find their confidence and make their own way – and, of course, I still call out people with small brains. 

Inspired? Thank Anita.

Eleonora Pitasso
Shipyard Relationship Coordinator and Sales Broker, Brokerage, Monaco

I’ve been inspired by a few women in history and in the present day, but Eleanor Roosevelt is one of the most inspirational figures to me. I’ve always loved quotes by her, like this one:

“Women are like teabags. You don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.”

Eleanor played an essential role in the US becoming the first UN delegate, she actively and passionately fought for African and Asian civil rights and she was the First Chair of the UNHCR. Of course, she was characterised as an “outspoken personality” but she stood up, stayed committed and made it happen.

She was a pillar of strength for her husband in his presidential role during WWII – throughout which he was gravely ill – and she was a devoted mother to six children, one of whom died in childbirth, while always working hard to make this world a better one. She inspires admiration.

Inspired? Thank Ellie.

Emma Lucas
Technical Manager, Yacht Management, London

I have so many inspirational female icons – Queen Elizabeth I (and II for that matter), Nancy Astor, Victoria Drummond, all of the code-breaking women at Bletchley Park, the glorious Maggie Philbin from Tomorrow’s world.

However, the lady who inspired me the most was Princess Leia. I was 10 and Carrie Fisher’s character completely enthralled me: smart, feisty and always found a way to get things done, no matter what the Empire had in store for her. She was a brilliant politician, yet still had fun and wasn’t ever going to hide her true personality. There is a quote from an article in 2007 by Diana Dominguez called Feminism and the Force that sums it up:

'Here was a woman who could play like and with the boys, but who didn't have to become one of the boys and who could, if and when she wanted to, show she liked the boys, a woman who is outspoken, unashamed, and, most importantly, unpunished for being so. She isn't a flirty sex-pot, tossing her hair around seductively to distract the enemy ... She doesn't play the role of ‘Maternal caretaker’, although she does display caring and compassion, or ‘the sweet innocent damsel’ who stands passively by while the men do all the work, but does step aside to let them do what they're good at when it is wise to do so ... Leia is a hero without losing her gendered status; she does not have to play the cute, helpless sex kitten or become sexless and androgynous to get what she wants. She can be strong, sassy, outspoken, bossy, and bitchy, and still be respected and seen as feminine.'

That’s who I wanted to be when I was growing up. She taught me that I could achieve anything I wanted, if I wanted it enough, and yet still be me.

May the force be strong in all of you.

Inspired? Thank Emma.

Lucy Medd
Crew Manager, Yacht Management, London

I first read Jane Austen when I was 16 – Mansfield Park – for my English Lit A Level. It was compelling reading. It is unfortunate that her novels were dismissed at the time of publication but it is testimony to how well they are written that they stand up to the test of time and are now some of the most loved period dramas ever televised. In some ways the stories are more in tune with today’s society than when they were written (c.1800). Austen’s books are centred on strong, witty female characters. Austen had a sharp and profound understanding of human nature along with a cheeky sense of humour.

Austen did not openly sympathise with radical feminist contemporaries, her feminism was more subtle. She questioned the idea that women were only meant to take care of the family. She gave her female characters the right to be happy – a right we now take for granted, but certainly was not a given in Regency England. I admire and love all Austen’s books, I have read all of them numerous times and I will go on reading them. I hope I emulated the strengths her lead characters possess. I admire Austen for writing such amazing female character novels at a time when women had no voice.

Inspired? Thank Lucy.

Marie Molls
Charter Manager and Broker, Charter, Athens

Michelle Obama inspires me with her personal and professional journey in a world dominated by white men, achieving goals and maintaining the motivation and morale to succeed in a landscape where the goal posts never stop moving.

Inspired? Thank Marie.