2021 Women Making Waves

Women Making Waves is Boating Industry’s effort to recognize the multitude of women in the industry who have made and continue to make great contributions to its success, propel its growth and lead their organizations and peers into the future.

With roughly 100 well-qualified nominations for this year’s Women Making Waves, choosing the highlighted women was no easy task. There is such a large and continuously growing number women doing incredible work in our industry that we don't have enough space to honor each and every one. However, the women recognized below have given everything they have and more to the marine industry and have accomplished so much, with a pledge to continue pushing the industry forward.

Here they are, the 30 Women Making Waves as nominated by the industry and selected by Boating Industry.

Rina Aponte
Senior Manager of Operations, Priority One Financial Services

Education: Eckerd College
Years in the marine industry: Over 20 years!
Other companies you have worked for in the marine industry and titles you held within those companies: Navy Damage Control Petty Officer Third Class; and my various roles at Priority One
What first drew you to the marine industry?
When I was stationed in the Navy in South Carolina, we spent every minute of our time off out on the lakes – we owned a personal watercraft at the time, and friends of ours had a boat. After the Navy, I moved back home to Florida and wanted to do something that involved both people and adventure - that quickly brought me to Priority One. Today, I live less than 8 miles from the Gulf and spend a lot of time at the beach or boating. Living here is paradise. I’ve always enjoyed that and am glad to work in a role that helps others do the same.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
We sell a way of life in the marine industry – even on the financial side of it. Whether it’s a buyer’s first boat or their fifth, they are always thrilled to talk about it. Hearing those stories is what motivates me to provide our services for a customer – so they can get out on their new adventure.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
I embrace challenge, which is probably why most of my memorable achievements have come at tumultuous times – amidst a pandemic and during hurricane seasons. In 2020, Priority One grieved the loss of my management partner while my team of over 40 people transitioned to working from home, and somehow we navigated record volume and closed out the year with satisfied dealers and more than 100 5-star reviews.
Leading, training and bringing up my team has certainly been memorable. When I started at Priority One, we had 13 employees total. Now, I manage a team of over 40 – about half of the company. Over the years, I’ve learned how to sell the “why” and trained my team to do the same. Now, we have a system of leaders and mentors that extend that training to newer employees. The softer side of management doesn’t come naturally to me, so I set reminders to be intentional, take a break and care for my team. That’s just as important as the work itself. People stay around for people – anyone at Priority One will tell you that’s part of what makes us special.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
In my experience, no! I learned leadership skills and how to manage challenging situations during my time in the Navy. I identify a need, and I get it done – it’s as simple as that. And at the end of the day, we finance adventure – people come to us to handle the boring paperwork so they can get out on the water – that is a fun journey to play a part in.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I will always lead with ethics and integrity. I will choose what’s right, rather than what’s quick or easy. I will lift up my team that works hard to make our company the best in the business. I hope women are inspired to lead in a meaningful way. People will see that, and they will follow.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Priority One has been led by remarkable women from the very beginning. Our success is a direct result of women like Lisa Gladstone, our founder, Lorraine Mariotti, who was honored in the 2020 Women Making Waves issue, and Heather Mariscal, our company President. Surround yourself with women who will teach you, lead you, and make waves alongside you.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
My husband owns a boat charter company, so we are always on the water when I’m not working. Some of our favorite islands are Three Rooker and Caladesi – only accessible by boat!

Morgan Bailey
Director of Marketing, Forest River Marine

Advertisement

Education: White Pigeon Jr/Sr High School
Years in the marine industry: 7 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
I didn’t come from a boating background. The only boating I was familiar with was fishing with my Dad on his Jon boat. Which didn’t even have a motor. Joining the work force is what I wanted to do after high school. I grew up in a little town near the Michigan/Indiana border, so fortunately for me; the RV capital of the world was right in my backyard. The morning of my High School graduation I interviewed at Forest River Marine to be their Receptionist. I started the following Monday, and have been building my career there since.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
Relationships are important, so build as many of them as you can. Build them with your teammates, dealers, and vendors. Surround yourself with strong, ambitious people. Be yourself and be honest with these people. Having strong relationships with the ones you work with creates a healthy, enjoyable workplace. When the team is happy and working together it leads to more wins. I am very thankful for the relationships I’ve gained over the last several years. These people have helped me learn, grow as a person, and have opened me up to many opportunities.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
A memorable achievement of mine was a few years back when my dispatch partner and I hit record-breaking months, month after month after month. Knowing that sales were great, production could build, we could ship to our dealers - who would ultimately make their customers happy; made me happy. Simply the fact that everything was aligning, and we were winning as a whole. It was such a great feeling.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
It hasn’t always been easy, but not everything in life is. I believe if you have a solid team of people around you, great mentors to look up to and lean on; you can navigate a career easily within this industry. Success is driven by passion and to me success is a way of life. If you are passionate, have a growth-mindset and truly enjoy what you are doing; you can do incredible things. This industry has so much to offer.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I came from a graduating High School class of 44 students. I did not have plans to further my education at college. I received some backlash for wanting to join the workforce after graduating. Especially because I had a twin sister, who at the time was headed to WMU. Not only am I holding a leadership role at my company, but I am doing it in a male-dominated industry. I want to inspire young females that you can set high goals for yourself in this industry and achieve them. There are plenty of options out there. You just have to find what you’re good at. This industry is very welcoming and it’s much like a family. I hope others see the opportunities within it like I did.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Set the bar high for yourself, stay committed, and always be willing to learn new things. Knowledge is power, so cross train if there is opportunity to. Knowing more will make you a very valuable teammate. Then finally - even though it is a male-dominated industry; don’t feel threatened. The men around me are my biggest cheerleaders.
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
I always look forward to Sunday dinners with my family and of course watching my Cowboys play football.

Lauren Beckstedt
CMO, Boat Group, Business Acceleration and Enterprise Marketing, Brunswick Corporation

Education: University of Iowa (bachelor’s); Northwestern’s Kellogg University’s (MBA)
Years in the marine industry: 6 years
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
The marine industry has what I refer to as “discoverable depth”; just when you think you’ve peeled back all the layers; a new dimension emerges, and new opportunities arise. It’s one of the many reasons I’ve built my career within the marine industry – there are limitless opportunities to propel this industry forward and chart your own path.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
I am very proud of being able to help talented women not only become aware of opportunities throughout the marine industry, but also achieve rewarding careers that inspire others.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
Brunswick is dedicated to creating marine experiences for all lifestyles. And, the voice of female ingenuity, among other diverse perspectives, is particularly critical today during an inflection point in our evolution. I strive to be one of those voices—an example and invitation to other women who can make an impact. I would not be where I am today without several incredible women who contributed to my success and challenged me to explore new directions and career opportunities within the marine industry. By making the marine industry more accessible to women, we hope to encourage their participation on the water to deepen their reflection throughout marine.  
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Be confidently curious – marine can take a lifetime to learn so don’t stop yourself from asking questions; embrace the vulnerability. I find that the industry is generous with its knowledge, but a lot goes unsaid if you don’t stop to ask.  Having the confidence to actively learn the industry will help you navigate a lifetime knowledge journey more quickly.

Amanda Bisset
Quality Assurance Manager, SeaDek Marine Products

Education: Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (LSSGB)
Years in the marine industry: 5 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
Being a lifelong Floridian, the marine industry has been a big part of my life growing up. My childhood was spent boating on the Indian River, spending days on the spoil islands, jet skiing with friends, and boogie boarding in the ocean. When you grow up with the love of water, it is easy to find work fulfilling when you’re surrounded by other people who share the same passion.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
The marine industry has shown me over the past five years how much growth and innovation are possible. Nothing is stagnant. All aspects of this industry are open for changes and new ideas. Working in marine flooring, we are constantly working on new ideas to provide customers with a unique boating experience. Our founders at SeaDek took standard carpet flooring and paved a path for boat manufacturers to stand out with exclusive designs, matching colors to upholstery, and branding options.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
The most memorable aspect of my job would be connecting with various boat manufacturers and working together on continual improvement. Part of my job is auditing and being able to work with these companies to find better ways to perform tasks. I feel a sense of accomplishment when we can take an area of hardship and turn it into an easy, viable task.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
Working in the quality field, it is important for me to show the many different opportunities in the marine industry where you can make a large contribution. When the majority of your life is spent at work, make sure it is doing something you love and somewhere you feel valued. Working in manufacturing in the marine industry has allowed me to grow my skills and contribute to an industry I love.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Own your position. A lot of the time, the marine industry is dominated by men. Women have the opportunity to start applying new ideas and add innovative ways to continue growing this industry.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
Down the Indian River Lagoon.
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
Kayaking, hiking mountains, exploring botanical gardens, and exploring science museum.

Natalie Carrera
Director of Marketing and Global Communications, Indmar Marine Engines

Education: A.S. Pellissippi State | B.S. University of Tennessee
Years in the marine industry:  14 years
Other companies you have worked for in the marine industry and titles you held within those companies:  Skiers Choice, Marketing Project Manager
What first drew you to the marine industry?
I had recently moved back to my hometown in Knoxville, TN from Philadelphia, PA. At the time, I could not get anyone to hire me. The consistent theme for the positions I was applying for were I was over qualified or they could not afford me.  So I decided to start calling on manufacturers in the surrounding area.  I grew up boating and waterskiing, so boat manufacturers were at the top of my list.  Skiers Choice was the first phone call that I made and they were actually hiring.  A few weeks later I was offered the position and proudly accepted. This is when I officially became a part of the marine industry and my passion for the industry was ignited.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?  
That anyone has the opportunity to make a difference.  Speak up, share your ideas and take the risk – it’s worth it.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why? 
You never really know what people think of your work or you personally, however; when Carl Blackwell reached out to me to serve on the NMMA Grow Boating Board of Directors I knew that I had made it and that people in the industry respected me personally and my work. It was an absolute honor to be one of the youngest and few women to serve on the board.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
No. The marine industry represents innovation and is revolutionary. Whether you’re engineering products or developing marketing plans and product launches. As long as you stay on top of your craft, sharpen your skills and innovative in your discipline, it will never be hard to navigate a career in this industry.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
Behind every successful executive or entrepreneur there is a tribe of other successful team members who have your back.  There is nothing more important than lifting each other up to thrive in success.  I firmly believe in empowering one another to embrace opportunities and possibilities beyond the limits of our imagination. So rather it’s someone on my team or an opponent from a competing brand, I will always celebrate and lift others up for a job well done!  This is what propels our industry forward.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?  
Listen to your inner voice. Do not second-guess yourself.  Share your ideas, prepare data to back them up and present them.  Stand up for them when needed and do so in an elegant, politically correct manner. You will not win every battle you choose to take on, but some are worth the fight, choose wisely. Sustainable success will not come from fitting into a company mold or someone else’s mold.
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies? 
I am a creator and apparently I really like to work, because I absolutely love to paint, garden and basically redecorate or add to our indoor or outdoor spaces at our land home or our floating cottage on the lake.  I am a worker, and honestly enjoy work in one form or another.

Gina Carter   
Parts Manager, Nobles Marine

Education: High School
Years in the marine industry: 31 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
I love the water and being on it.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?  
I’ve learned that people in the marine (and automotive) industry tend to underestimate women when it comes to mechanical knowledge.  Through the years I have learned to pay attention to others in the business that have more experience and working knowledge and learn from them. To learn to listen to my customers and build a meaningful and profitable relationship with them.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?  
Being the person my customers ask for when they need help. Most of them are retirees and/or disabled, boating/fishing is what they do the most for enjoyment.  I help them to stay on the water.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
At first it was. Being a woman, many people didn’t think I knew anything.
Now most of the same people that would ignore me and want to talk to a man, won’t deal with anyone else but me.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?  
To show that just because you are female in a previously male-dominated profession, doesn’t mean that you can’t do it and be the best.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?  
Work hard and pay attention to advice given by people who have been doing the job for years.  When I first started, the service manager, Rick Storman, once told me to “close my mouth and open my ears.”  He was right, because I learned so much about the mechanical aspect by listening to the service techs.
What is your favorite place to go boating?  
Harris Chain of Lakes — cruise around, wildlife view then go eat at one of the many restaurants on the water.
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?  
Mountain biking and hiking. 

Marilyn DeMartini
President, PR Power

Education: B.A. – Business & Community Management, UMass/Boston
Years in the marine industry: 24 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
Chance! I had just started my company in 1997 and was a marketer and freelance writer in the sports and fitness business. I was asked to freelance with the Drambuie On Ice Championship Offshore Racing Team when they raced on Singer Island. I fell in love with the sport and the team, and the next year, Drambuie hired me as the publicist, changing my life and career. That led to journalism and many other PR clients in the marine industry.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
Hard work and integrity pay a big dividend. I earned clients by referrals and freelance journalism work from the relationships I’ve built with editors over the years—I deliver quality work, on time and within budget!
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
My marketing work with the iconic Cigarette Racing Team is a standout, including the licensing that created sunglasses, watches and a designer line of apparel, brought together my work in both the sportswear and marine industries. People still wear those items and they have become collector items.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
I didn’t find the industry difficult at all! The marine media, OEMs and everyone I encountered over the years as a marketer and journalist were supportive and helpful. I’ll never forget my first conversation with Peter Hledin of Skater fame, one of my first builder contacts. He spent so much time with me, sharing insights and knowledge—like so many did! People in this industry are facilitators, not competitors.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I’d like to lead by example, showing that someone who knew little about boats over 20 years ago, could become an “expert” by focusing on a target market, listening, asking copious questions and working very hard to be the best! It wasn’t about my gender, rather, it was about my enthusiasm and work ethic.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Very much the same as how I hope to inspire—be willing to be a novice, ask many questions, listen acutely, learn and work hard to master your niche.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
South Florida—East and West Coasts, offer such wonderful destinations—and they are all in my “back ocean.”
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
I love every aspect of fitness—lifting weights, biking, kayaking, and teaching yoga and fitness. I am also a long-time motorcycle enthusiast and love exploring mountains across the country on two wheels!

Hélène Dupeux
Vice President of EMEA Supply Chain, Mercury Marine

Education: Master of Credit Management and Logistics, Montpellier Business School, France & BA Bachelor of Strategy Management, Royal Holloway College, London.
Years in the marine industry: 6 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
I have an appetite for a new challenge after 15 years of supply chain responsibilities in another sector. I was lucky to receive a phone call proposing the job at Mercury at just the right time. Having grown up by the Mediterranean Sea with a father working in the fishing & sea salt industries, I was intrigued by the possibility of working in marine.  I had always associated boating as a commercial industry, not paying much attention to the leisure side of the marine industry. I have since discovered a whole new world.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
The boating industry is one made of passionate people. Every person I met is proud: proud of the boat he has designed, proud of the engines he is winning fishing competition with, proud to take his family on a boating afternoon, proud of the boating brand he is working for. I have learned to listen to everyone, to every story in order to shape my knowledge of the industry, to take its pulse, understand its rhythm so that I could drive the changes needed, embarking everyone on the same wave.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
The Marine industry is mostly associated with sales, marketing, innovation, manufacturing… and less with supply chain. I would like to think that I have managed to demonstrate how supply chain, from procurement to distribution, is at the heart of this industry and enabling this industry to satisfy a very wide variety of customers. Most of times it is only when one of the chain links is broken, as we experienced these past months with this COVID-19 pandemic that everyone realized how dependent this industry is from a reliable supply chain. I am proud of how the team has managed the customer relationships in this challenging time. I believe that in the customers relationship, whether it is with a dealer in the south of Italy or with a major OEM located in Poland, the supply chain is a key success factor in the growth of Mercury in EMEA.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
My career was shaped in a different industry, in the after sales sector. While I rapidly shaped my vision for the future of the supply chain organization, the learning of the industry, and more precisely Mercury Marine business took more energy. For example, I needed to demonstrate how important it was for a leader of the supply chain to input into sales strategy and develop partnership not only with suppliers but as well with customers. I was fortunate to find the support I needed from a strong group of people that are still walking alongside me on this journey.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I would be really honored if I could inspire one individual! I tend to demonstrate that yes, it is possible to have a career, to enjoy your work and a have busy personal life. For sure we need more leading women in this industry, as well as in the supply chain so I would like to inspire men to recruit and promote women.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
I would say as in any other industry, stay true to yourself, lean on the people that complete your skills, create a trusting environment with all members of your team and your peers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, about the industry, the products, the customers, and the company, always keep this learning spirit.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
The Mediterranean Sea!

Alyssa Freeman
Executive Director, Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County

Education: B.A. in Communication & MBA
Years in the marine industry: 13 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
I grew up in Michigan boating and fishing from an early age with my family. It was always in my blood and part of my most cherished childhood memories. When I had the opportunity to move to South Florida and work in the marine industry it was like a dream come true.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
We have to introduce youth to this industry, both as a career choice and as a hobby, if we are going to keep the momentum going. Also, not everyone will agree on the same issues. Our industry is made up of so many diverse user-groups and businesses, so compromises often need to be made.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
It would be my Board of Directors having the confidence to promote me to Executive Director two years ago because they believed in me. I’m also really proud that my Association gives back hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to local non-profits making an impact in the industry, many of which impact our youth and underserved communities.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry?Why or why not?
Yes and no. The job really found me through my network of people so that part wasn’t difficult, but once I was in the job sometimes I found it hard to communicate with certain people or I felt that I wasn’t taken seriously because I was young, or because I was a young female. However, there are more amazing people in this industry than not, so I found those people and stuck by them and they really lifted me up.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I want to be a positive role model and mentor for all women in every industry, and for my two young daughters. I want other women to hear my story and know that anything is possible if they set their mind to it. I am proof that it is possible to balance being a mom and wife with having a career and getting an education. Never stop learning and never give up on your aspirations. If I can give hope and confidence to other women and lift them up like those that have lifted me up that would be something really amazing. 
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Most importantly, have fun with it! This is and should be a fun industry to be working in. Take every chance you can to learn more about the industry and the people in it. Lastly, join your local marine trades association! They are there to help you connect, learn, and to be your advocate.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
Locally in Palm Beach County, Peanut Island is our usual go-to, but I also love boating and snorkeling in Islamorada (Florida Keys) and Spider Lake near Traverse City, Michigan (my home state).
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
I enjoy hanging out in my pool with the kids, and I do barre workouts to stay active because I love to eat (but not cook).

Amy Gobel
Director of Marketing, Pursuit Boats and Cobia Boats

Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Youngstown State University
Years in the marine industry: 5 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
Unlike many in the industry, I did not grow up on the water and knew little about running a boat. After moving to Florida from northeast Ohio six years ago, my husband and I were excited to escape the cold and embrace our new coastal lifestyle. When I found the position at Pursuit, it felt like a great fit.
If you’re going to start out in the industry, it’s great to start at a company that is known for its extremely high-quality boats and passionate boater following. It makes my job marketing the boats that much easier.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
How different it is from other industries. It is relationship-focused, which has been such an amazing change of pace. At Pursuit, we refer to both our internal teams and our owners as family, and there is a reason for that. People aren’t just buying a boat. They are buying a lifestyle—a way to connect and make memories with family and friends. And we want to be part of it all! The relationship starts well before the purchase and never ends. We stay in touch with our owners and they remain loyal to the brand for generations.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
Navigating the uncharted waters of the pandemic. Going into it, no one knew what to expect for the marine industry. Our team stayed flexible, quickly putting messaging and plans into action in real time. The entire company was able to stay nimble, continuing to manufacture boats, maintain connections with existing owners, reach potential owners and introduce the Pursuit brand to new-to-boating families. I feel completely reinvigorated by our growth during this trying time. 
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
If I can get to this level with no boating background in a male-dominated industry, then I hope it inspires other women to as well. I have been fortunate enough to work with talented women along the way that encouraged, supported and mentored me and I would love to do the same.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Know your strengths and let your work speak for you, but in the end, don’t forget that we are selling an exciting lifestyle. Just stay open to new possibilities, learn as you go and take chances. For example, I am taking classes this summer to get my Power Boating certification. There’s always a way to further your growth.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
That is a tough call! We have such beautiful waters right here in our backyard on the East Coast of Florida, but I have been to the Bahamas a few times now with Pursuit and there is nothing quite like exploring the islands and experiencing that breathtakingly blue water by boat.
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
Enjoying the Florida lifestyle and year-round sunshine with my husband and four-year-old son. So there’s a lot of Lego and dinosaur action followed by unwinding poolside with a glass of wine. Living in paradise also has the added perk of bringing lots of visitors, and we love being a destination for family and friends.

Angela Hutchinson
Service Manager, Harborside Marina

Education: Business Management
Years in the marine industry: 6 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
I was hired at the marina to be the General Manager of the seasonal restaurant that is on the property. After the restaurant closed after the first season the owners wanted to keep me on through the winter and I started as admin and in charge of summer and winter contracts for our storage customers. The next season they needed someone to help in the service department so I moved over there and started learning about parts, repair orders, and scheduling of service work. For the last two years I have been moved into the service management role while still running the restaurant from May until October.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
One of the lessons I have learned is that you have to have patience in gratifying the customer compared to being in the restaurant business you achieve that gratification instantly. My whole career has, up until now, enabled me to satisfy a customer instantly and now I have learned to control that urge to expect perfection immediately.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
Five years ago, I would have never thought I would know a thing about the inner workings of boats.  When I was able to walk a customer through the problems and work that needed to be done, answered their questions, and coordinated the work to be completed from start to finish all with my own knowledge it gave me a sense of achievement.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
It wasn’t necessarily difficult but it was a small challenge adjusting to being a woman in a dominantly man’s world.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I am hoping that I can show how diverse a woman can be and that they can achieve and learn in any industry. I am also hoping to encourage woman that want to change direction in their life that it can be done.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
It is a special industry to be in. I suggest taking it all in, step outside the box, challenge yourself to learn something new every day. Stay positive even on the stressful days. Try and find a mentor. I am lucky because the owner is very hands on and he became mine and I wouldn’t know half as much or be where I am in the company without his knowledge that he has shared with me.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
I honestly haven’t been outside of our area very much (which is Long Island Sound), but I cannot imagine a more beautiful place to boat. There are so many places to go and explore on the CT shoreline.

Crystal Jacoby
Chief Operating Officer , The Composite Company, Compsys Inc. & Structural Composites

Education: Two-year Collegiate Degree, multiple certificates for six sigma and manufacturing, as well as 22 years of blood, sweat, and tears.
Years in the marine industry: 22 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
I have always enjoyed boating and had an interest in understanding how boats are made.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
This year specifically, I have learned that transparency is very important. Thinking outside of the box and working with your customers to find solutions is also key during global supply chain disruptions.  Most importantly, the greatest lesson learned is the importance of showing gratitude and respect to everyone involved in the manufacturing process.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
My greatest achievement has been and will forever be providing our team with the opportunity to grow. I am a firm believer in investing in your team and giving those that have an interest to challenge themselves the training and tools to succeed. 
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
No, when you have the right mentors and a supportive team working with you every challenge becomes an opportunity to grow. 
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry? 
If they have the desire to pursue a career in the marine industry, they should be prepared to put in the work just like everyone else.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
The advice I give to everybody is simple, if you work hard and with integrity you can achieve your goals. 
What is your favorite place to go boating?
Brevard County is a playground for boaters. I love all the thrills of offshore fishing, but both the Banana and Indian Rivers always provide a peaceful day with minimum wake required.
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
I enjoy kayaking and spending time with my dog at the beach.

Cristina Kochevar
Vice President of Merchandising, West Marine

Education: I was in college studying music and realized this wasn’t how I wanted to make a living. Happily, I landed a position with the Marriott Corporation and they sent me through their retail leadership, operations and procurement training for 5 years.   It was like an on-the-job MBA!
Years in the marine industry: 13.5 years
Other companies you have worked for in the marine industry and titles you held within those companies:
Most of my career prior to West Marine has been with the public aquarium industry as the Director of Merchandising (Aquarium of the Americas, Shedd Aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium)—which while not “marine” per se, my love for the ocean and spending time on/in/around the water is evident by both my current position and previous ones. 
What first drew you to the marine industry?  
I was interested in leaving the non-profit sector and moving into national retail.  West Marine was a perfect fit because I spent my childhood on boats and I am an avid scuba diver.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry? 
This industry is so strong! The human connection to the water is bigger than external factors like the economy or a global pandemic. The marine customer is deeply passionate about their time on the water and it is a high bar to make sure we meet their needs every day.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?   
In 2011, I was promoted to the Category Manager for Fishing, Watersports, Seating and Coolers. It was the first time in the company history that a woman was hired to lead the fishing category. It was an exciting position in a major growth area and I am proud of my contributions to that growth.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not? 
Early on it was a bit of a challenge to be a woman in this industry specifically. It felt like I had to work harder to prove I had the knowledge/skills to be taken seriously.  It feels like it’s different now and more women are being given the opportunity to lead.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I think that seeing other women lead is inspiring.  Hopefully by being visible and producing favorable results while creating a positive work environment, I can inspire more women to join the fun!
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?  
Speak up and listen! Don’t assume what you have to say isn’t important or won’t be heard but also listen carefully and add value.  I think it can be intimidating to speak up when there are not many women at the table and our voices are relevant.
What is your favorite place to go boating? 
I grew up boating off of Panama City, Florida…so that would have to be my favorite although it’s been a while.  Hawaii is my family’s current favorite spot.

Margaret LaCagnina
Director, Dealer Relations, Dealer Profit Services

Education: High School Diploma, some college (University of Texas)
Years in the marine industry: 15 years
Other companies you have worked for in the marine industry and titles you held within those companies:

• Atlanta Marine – Service Manager

• First Approval Source – Director, Dealer Relations

What first drew you to the marine industry?
My family has owned dealerships for over 30 years. When I left the high-tech world and travelling 300-plus days per year, the marine industry, its lifestyle and the people involved with boating were such a comfortable place to go.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
Life on a lake is 1,000 times better than life on a plane.  The dealers that I have gotten to know have shown me what great people look like. The biggest lesson that I have learned is no one cares about their customers more than boat dealers – this is just an awesome community.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
Participating in the growth of a Financial Service Provider – being instrumental in the addition and retention of dealers and having dealers recognize my name is a huge honor.  From zero to hero is a big deal and I am very proud of the relationships that I have established and retain to this day.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
I think that I have been lucky. I came in through family and even though my current place is not family specific, they treat everyone like family. I don't think that there was anything marine specific that was a challenge – just the usual job and role challenges that exist in every industry.  Frankly, I have had the pleasure of dealing with a lot of great people in the marine industry and I wouldn't trade these relationships for anything.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
If I can be an example of how caring counts, I would be proud.  Women can make a big difference in what is still a largely male dominated world and they do it by caring and commitment.  If my success, which comes from my caring and commitment, shows other women how to be critical to the success of their businesses, I would be honored.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Be prepared for chauvinistic attitudes.  They still exist, even in 2021.  Push back and push on.  Women make the difference and there is no one who can do better than we do.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
Anyplace that there is water – Lake Lanier is really awesome!

Amanda Rodriguez Levandowski
Owner, Dealer Principal, Charlotte Ski Boats

Education: Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.), Queens University
Years in the marine industry: 11 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
Like many good stories, it began with love! My husband has been in the marine industry for almost three decades, and back when we first started dating, he taught me how to wake surf. It quickly became a fun activity for us to do together. Over time, I grew to love it so much that I started teaching friends and their children to wake surf. It was clear to see the passion I had developed for the boating lifestyle, which made for a natural progression into the industry.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
Over my 11 years in the industry, I have learned to embrace the journey. Every day is a new opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life on and off the water. We’re able to share our passion of boating with families and individuals, and teach them how to work together to enjoy and appreciate the marine lifestyle. We are helping our customers create lifetime memories.  Being a leader of Charlotte Ski Boats has given me the platform to have a lasting impact on our community, one boat at a time. 
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
Without a doubt, building and being part of our team at Charlotte Ski Boats has been my greatest honor. We are creating a culture built on doing the right thing for our customers and our community, even when it’s not easy.  We challenge each member of our CSB family to be the best versions of themselves. As the company grows, we want to grow with it. We truly are a dream team!
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
Yes and no. Prior to getting my start in the marine industry, I was an owner in a mortgage company in Charlotte while working on my college degree. My dream was to become an attorney. However, my soon-to-be husband and I were blessed with the opportunity to open Charlotte Ski Boats and my plans changed. Our collective plans became focused on providing our customers with the most fun and exciting boating experience in the market. An experience that can enjoy with family and friends for years to come. It has taken great persistence, perseverance, and passion to not only learn about the industry, but to become a successful business owner. The journey has been beyond rewarding.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
As an advocate of what women can accomplish in the boating industry, I want to inspire other women to follow their passions and dreams and to be leaders in our marine industry.  I want to help mentor others to avoid the same pitfalls that I’ve experienced as a business owner and give them opportunities to excel. There truly is no limit to what can be accomplished in our industry by creative and innovative women who are committed to improving the lives of others through the boating lifestyle.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
First and foremost, let boating be your passion. Lean into it each and every day. Enjoy challenging yourself to be the best you know you can be.  Set goals for yourself and push beyond even what you think you can achieve. Secondly, it’s so important to find a good mentor who can teach you the technical aspects of the business and encourage you along the way. Once you align your passion for the lifestyle with your expertise for the industry, opportunities for success will continue to present themselves.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
While I love to travel and would take the opportunity to boat anywhere I might land… I’d have to say there’s no place like home, and home for me is right here in Charlotte on Lake Norman!
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
When I’m not on the water, you can most often find me exercising, travelling, and spending quality time with family (especially my godson, Sebastian!).

Shelley McIvor
Managing Director, Quadrant Marine Institute Inc.

Education: BSc. Chemistry, MSc. Technical Communication, and most important…thousands of sea miles
Years in the marine industry: 15 years
Other companies you have worked for in the marine industry and titles you held within those companies:

• Communications Director – Private Yacht Project Management Firm – Europe

• Technical Writer (Onboard Systems Manuals) – Asia and USA

• Technical Consultant (Supplier Management) – 143m New Build Yacht – Europe

• Communications Consultant (Onboard Safety Management Systems) – Canada

• Project Management Consultant (Small Craft Marine Workforce Development) - Canada

What first drew you to the marine industry?
Moving to the west coast and discovering the ocean as a recreational boater.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
The small craft side of the industry, both recreational and commercial, is largely a personal industry. It still relies heavily on building relationships, community, and trust. For a comparatively small industry it has a big reach.  The diversity and scope of work, the range of complexity (low to very high tech) and complex web of business relationships plus life-long customers can take you anywhere there is water.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
Being part of the continued growth and development of Quadrant’s professional training programs allows me to work with all of our apprentices, instructors, employer partners and directors. It’s a privilege to support people in developing skills and building a career in this industry.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry?Why or why not?
When asked, I tell our Marine Service Tech apprentices that this is my accidental profession (transitioning from analytical chemistry into marine) and I love what I do.  I did not chart this course. My career path is more a story of saying “yes” to interesting opportunities that fit with my lifestyle and values. Joining the Quadrant team six years ago was a natural fit and it brings all my other skills and experiences into play (even chemistry!).
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
This nomination surprised me. I live a pretty quiet life and I’m the one inspired by the talented tradespeople I interact with every day. I’m inspired by the vision it took to start Quadrant’s Marine Service Technician apprenticeship program from an idea and a need 25 years ago. I guess that’s the message: find what you care about and people that care about those same things. They’ll inspire you and by extension, you’ll inspire others along the way—it’s not even intentional, it just happens because you care.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Say ‘yes’ to opportunities that interest you. Find people and companies that share your personal values.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
I was incredibly fortunate to spend a year cruising in the Sea of Cortez. Everything about that was amazing. Gunkholing anywhere in the Gulf Islands is equally awesome, but the water is a bit brisk.

Becky Pausha
Manufacturing Production Manager, Mercury Racing

Education: Associates – Mechanical Design and Bachelors – Operations Management
Years in the marine industry: 24 years
Other companies you have worked for in the marine industry and titles you held within those companies:
I started my career at Mercury Marine once I graduated with my Associates degree in Mechanical Design and later continued my education with a Bachelors degree is in Operations Management, so I am grateful that I have been able to use my education in various roles here. In my 24 years with the company, I have held various positions including: Die Designer (castings), Lean Six Sigma Blackbelt, Quality Engineer, Parts & Accessories Technical Service Manager, and most recently Mercury Racing Manufacturing Production Manager.
What first drew you to the marine industry?
I have always had an interest in boating and fishing. I was inspired to work at Mercury because my dad worked here for 42 years. Fond du Lac is my hometown, so it’s special to me that I am able to have such a meaningful career at a company that is so close to home.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
The biggest lesson I have learned is that you cannot be afraid to ask questions. That is the advice I give to all of our staff. At Mercury Racing, we try to build up a culture where everyone feels comfortable asking questions. Very often, you may find you are not the only one wondering. Having such open communication allows us to be a stronger team.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
I take great pride in the fact that I have had a long and rewarding career at Mercury Marine. Because I started here very young, I felt I did not know as much as others. But having an open mind and really focusing on listening to people has allowed me to grow into a confident leader. I have a passion for helping others grow in their roles and grow their career paths. I hope that I have made a positive impact on the organization in that way. And of course, I am incredibly honored to be nominated for Women Making Waves, it is an achievement to be proud of!
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry?Why or why not?
A career in manufacturing as a woman is not always easy, especially starting out in a casting facility with very tenured employees. However, I have worked hard to learn this business and always have respect for the team. Once I had settled into my role, and we began to work together the experience became fun. I have learned to just be confident in my knowledge and take the time to listen to others.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I hope I am able to demonstrate that women can pursue any career that interests them, regardless of the field or discipline. Don’t let others discourage you from pursuing your passion.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
My best advice is to be strong and confident in what you know. Do not be afraid to accept help or constructive criticism.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
I am fortunate to live next to Lake Winnebago, the largest inland lake in Wisconsin. It’s fun to explore other areas, but Winnebago is my home.

Kelle Pierce
Director of Marketing, Cobalt Boats

Education: High School
Years in the marine industry: 36 years
Other companies you have worked for in the marine industry and titles you held within those companies:  File Clerk, Receptionist, Customer Service Coordinator, Human Resource Coordinator, Sales Coordinator, Logistics Coordinator and Marketing Manager, all with Cobalt Boats.
What first drew you to the marine industry?
Like others in our industry, I grew up boating. My dad had a boat, and our family spent many, many weekends and evenings on Grand Lake in Oklahoma, fishing, learning to drive the boat, and just enjoying all the great recreational opportunities that come with boating. Later, my mother got a job at Cobalt Boats and seeing how much love she had for her job and the company, I knew Cobalt was the place for me. So, I graduated from high school in 1981 and immediately started working for Cobalt, and the rest is history.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that the marine industry is really a group of wonderful people. My time in the industry has been defined by the relationships I’ve built – and the wonderful life memories I have – spent with great people. I like to say that every Cobalt dealer meeting feels like a family reunion!
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
I’d have to say the most memorable achievement is my being named Director of Marketing for Cobalt. Starting out in an entry-level position, I’ve been blessed in my career by meeting people who helped me along the way, and I feel both humbled and grateful to the coworkers and industry leaders who believed in me and helped me grow and learn.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
I’m not sure that it was especially difficult to navigate a career in the marine industry over any other. I say that because I think building any career is really about wanting to improve yourself. I’ve always wanted to learn more, whether it was about the job I currently held or about the business in general, and I was fortunate to have some great mentors and other team members here at Cobalt who gave me opportunities and trusted in my abilities – in some cases even before I did!
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?   
I think that the idea of being a woman in business today is still about wanting to learn and grow, to work hard, and to demonstrate your value to your company and the industry. So, I hope to be an example of that point of view and be a mentor to others with the same goals.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?  
I’d say that you are the one who determines your path, so don’t be afraid to reach for the stars! In my experience, anything is possible if you stay positive, work hard, and simply put in the work every day.
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
Family is very important to me, and my greatest life accomplishment has been working with my husband to raise our two sons and then watch them and our beautiful daughters-in-law raise our six grandchildren. So, if I am not working, you’ll find me spending time with them and enjoying everything from their milestone events to their daily activities.

Michele Price
General Manager, Prince William Marine Sales

Education: College Degree (ECU) Business
Years in the marine industry: 37 years
Other companies you have worked for in the marine industry and titles you held within those companies: 

• Hillcrest Marine, Lorton VA (Summer job/later accountant)

• Greenville Marine & Sport Center (College Job)

What first drew you to the marine industry?
My family had a small boat so I got some boating in as a kid in the ‘70s. I started working at Hillcrest Marine in High School during the summer helping with over-the-counter parts sales. Headed off to East Carolina University and majored in Business/Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management and worked at Greenville Marine & Sports Center helping everywhere I could part time.  Found that I loved the water and loved boating. After college graduation took a job during the summer at PWM as a parts runner while looking for a “real job” and realized I was already at it and never left.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry? 
The industry may seem big, but it is really pretty small in the big picture. I learned through the years that as the economy changes, so does the industry; build good relationships have patience and be flexible. Learned to live by our “We Care” motto here and hard work pays off.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?  
I would have to say when we won Dealer of the Year in the Top 100 in 2010. It was a wonderful moment knowing that what our team here is doing everyday brought us to the top of the industry.  I worked hard in the years prior to establish great processes, implement them and I work with a great team that cares about each other and our customers and it felt great to see it paid off and was recognized by the industry.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?  
For myself it was not as hard to navigate my career in the industry, the owners here recognized that I was a go getter willing to learn every part of the business starting in parts, service writing, warranty, F&I as well as some accounting along the way.  With the owner’s support and guidance, I was able to learn the business and work my way to General Manger/part owner now.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?   
I take every opportunity to encourage young women that show interest in the business that there is a great career in the marine business with lots of opportunities in dealerships as well as the manufacturing and other support businesses to the industry.  I try to lead by example and tell my story.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?  
My advice would be to work hard and don’t be afraid to ask questions, suck up any advice and knowledge you can get from industry leaders/mentors. Most importantly show up, go above and beyond and love what you do!
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?  
Traveling, going to the beach, bowling and taking my 1963 Chevy Impala to car shows.

Mary Jo Reinhart
Director OEM & Retail Sales, Torqeedo Inc.

Education: B.S. — Chadron State College (Nebraska)
Years in the marine industry: 10 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
My background was B2B computer sales. After taking time to focus on raising my two kids, I uncovered this unique opportunity with Torqeedo, a young German company offering game-changing electric propulsion technology. I was hooked.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
Customer service is key! Recreational boating is meant to be fun. Things can and occasionally will go wrong, but how you respond is important.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
My team’s focus is on motors 20hp and below. Torqeedo also offers Deep Blue motors equivalent to 80hp-plus and I played a key role in landing two of our North American commercial passenger ferry projects. These types of electric projects are critical for cities looking to mitigate urban pollutants.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
The marine industry has a reputation of being slow to adapt. The growing number of women in management and executive roles is evidence that the industry is evolving and there are many opportunities for educated newcomers to make an impact.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Dive in and find your niche! Take on roles that stretch your comfort zone since that’s where the most growth will occur. Also, seek to understand why things are done the way they are. You can only truly navigate from where you are and when you respect and understand the nuances of a situation, you can tweak and reinvent to move things forward or in a different direction.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
Chain O’Lakes here in Northern Illinois or any lake with nesting loons.

Johana Reyes
Director, Digital Strategy & Operations, Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)

Education: MBA
Years in the marine industry: 7 Years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
My love for the outdoors, nature, and the ocean.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
You don’t need to own an expensive yacht to go boating with your family and friends and enjoy a day on the ocean. 
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
During nearly seven years with RBFF, my team has said my work has made it possible for millions of people to get out on the water to enjoy boating and fishing by creating and making available a complete set of ‘how to’ and ‘where to’ content and delivering it to consumers in the channels they want. During my tenure, fishing participation has risen to new heights, and boating has followed suit. Roughly 55 million Americans age 6-plus went fishing in 2020. That’s up from 50 million in 2019 and the highest number in 13 years. And fishing continues to be the No. 1 activity done from a boat. In addition, in 2020 100,00 people bought their first boat and new boat sales reached a 13-year high.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
Not really, a lot of women are becoming leaders in the marine and fishing industry.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
Follow your heart, develop your potential, and serve other human beings.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
If you love what you do, you will be successful. Find your purpose in the place where you are working right now, give your best and be positive.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
St. Petersburg and Key West, Florida.
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
Running, tennis, swimming and yoga.

Beverly Rosella
Owner/Marketing & Sales Lead, Freedom Boat Clubs of Delaware, South Jersey, and Lower Hudson Valley NY

Education:  BS in Animal Science
Years in the marine industry:  4 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?  
A friend / Freedom Boat Club franchise owner introduced us to FBC, sold us a boat, we caught the bug and decided to open our own franchise. We saw opportunity in Southern Delaware due to the diverse waterways and growing population.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry? 
Know your goals and aspirations and work backwards from them, understand the risks involved, but don’t be afraid to take prudent and calculated risk. 
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?  
We have been fortunate to be able to leverage the assets in our business to give back to our community in meaningful ways.  Our most memorable day was one where we organized trips on the water for disadvantaged youth in our community.  We took them on boat rides, saw dolphins, shared a picnic lunch, had a selfie station and a treasure hunt, and really gave them a day to remember! 
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?  
It’s difficult for me to judge since my entire ‘career’ in the industry has been limited to Freedom Boat Club, and it has not been difficult to navigate.  The entire senior management, both before and since the acquisition by Brunswick, has been extremely supportive of the franchises and does not seem to differentiate on gender.  Plus, the other franchisees and their teams are very supportive of one another.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?  
I was inspired by other Freedom Boat Clubs that had begun connecting the women in their locations to form ladies’ groups to learn and share their enjoyment of the boating lifestyle.  In Delaware, we have organized a group of like-minded women who have joined together as a way to support and foster a sense of sisterhood while learning and perfecting safe boating skills. The result of these on-the-water-experiences has led to exploration outings and adventure trips where everyone has a no-pressure opportunity to practice a variety of skills such as docking, anchoring, and man over-board procedures, and just have fun together on and off the water!  They call themselves Freedom Boat Club Sea Sisters.  More recently, I have shared learnings and insights with a broader Freedom Boat Club team to help support other franchise owners who wish to start their own women-focused initiative.  We hope to work collectively to empower more women to get on the water with confidence through fun, educational, and community-driven activities.   
Ladies, you’ve got this!  Many of our women boaters never boated before, and now are among our most skilled and most confident boaters, because they took on the challenge to learn, with the support of other like-minded women, and didn’t let fear or stigma get in their way.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?  
Focus on being the authentic you, be the best you can be in whatever role you choose, outperform expectations, build relationships, and find good mentors.  Perform for the role you want, not just the one you have.  Always be learning and growing.
What is your favorite place to go boating?  
The Delaware Bay holds a special place in my heart, and I love to go out around the lighthouses and watch the dolphins.  I’m also in love with the Virgin Islands!

Paula Sleiman
Quality & Manufacturing Engineering Manager, Nautique Boat Company

Education: M.S.E Industrial Engineering
Years in the marine industry: 7 years
Other companies you have worked for in the marine industry and titles you held within those companies:
American Boatbuilders Association – Chairman of the Technical Committee – 2017 to Present
What first drew you to the marine industry?
I grew up on the Mediterranean Sea, spending most of my summer waterskiing, fishing, and boating with my family. My father spent his career in Manufacturing, and he would frequently take me to the factory with him. Merging my passion for water sports with what was clearly my career path, Manufacturing, was my dream. After I graduated, I started my career in semi-conductors, but was also waterskiing competitively in my free time. While competing in the Asian Waterski Championships almost a decade ago, I was blessed to meet the president of Nautique Boats, Greg Meloon. We spoke about Nautique Manufacturing, where he mentioned that they had just hired an Industrial Engineer. Becoming the next IE at Nautique became my goal, as Nautique had always been my boat of choice. I was very lucky to be hired by the phenomenal manufacturing team in 2014, and the rest was history.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that every day I will learn something new. As dynamic as boat building is, we are faced with new challenges all the time. Being open to change and understanding that the way we did it yesterday may no longer be the best way to do it today is crucial to innovating, controlling quality, and being efficient. I have also learned that to be successful, we must lean on our teams and work together - that includes the team members at Nautique, our suppliers, and the other ABA companies.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
This is a difficult one, because I have so many memorable achievements. In both of my roles at Nautique and the ABA, I get to work alongside some fascinating individuals who have accomplished so much in their lives. I will focus on one of my early achievements. When I started in the marine industry, I knew how to drive a boat, I knew how to ski, I knew how to trailer a boat, but I knew very little about how to build a boat. I barely understood composites. One of my most memorable achievements is becoming a lot more knowledgeable and well versed about boat building and composites, which allowed me to step into leading the composites team, leading the Manufacturing Engineering Team, and most recently leading the Quality team as well, as well as serving as the Chairman of the technical committee of the American Boatbuilders Association.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry?Why or why not?
The marine industry is very dynamic in nature, and the people in it are very welcoming. Although there are not many women on the manufacturing and technical side, I never felt out of place, and have always been respected. Both at Nautique and within the ABA, I am blessed to work alongside some extremely smart, knowledgeable, and passionate individuals. Most of the individuals I work with are eager to have more diversity in the industry and have taken a lot of their own time to helping me learn and succeed. The learning curve is steep, and the challenges, products, and processes are constantly evolving, but it is extremely rewarding.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I hope that I can inspire women to enter the technical side of the marine industry and build a career here. The technical side can be intimidating but it is definitely a place for a woman. One of my wise male coworkers once told me that as women, we have created our own glass ceiling, and we often believe that we can’t do certain things, and that this belief is false, we are capable of a lot more than we think. At the time, I was 7 months pregnant, and terrified at how I was going to juggle added responsibility at work and added responsibility at home. I knew that I wanted to be a good mother, but I also did not want to let my team and peers down. Now I can attest, that it is not easy to balance both, but it is doable, and I hope that I can inspire young women to know that they can do both, especially in a company with corporate values like the ones at the Correct Craft companies.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, enjoy the boat building process. Ask questions when you’re lost, but also be resourceful and try to find the answers yourself. Don’t settle for that’s how we’ve always done it, because there’s always a better way, find that way, and make it better. Don’t feel intimidated by the male to female ratio, or by how many years of experience everyone else has, from my experience, everyone is eager to share their knowledge and pass information down, make sure you learn as much as you can from these individuals. Be humble and accept guidance when needed, none of us know it all, and we all wear many hats. Also, be ready for a great time, this industry is so rewarding and so unique.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
Nothing beats the Mediterranean Coast for me and not just because of the nostalgia, being that this is where my love with the water began. The deep blue clear salt water, the perfect water temperatures year-round, and the lack of “killer beasts” is a pretty great combination. A close second is my current home lake, Lake Conway in Orlando, Florida.

Donna Tallent
Vice President of Manufacturing, Malibu Boats/MBUU

Education: B.S. Management
Years in the marine industry: 23 years
Other companies you have worked for in the marine industry and titles you held within those companies:
Sea Ray Boats/Brunswick—Process Engineering Lead/Project Manager/EHS Manager
What first drew you to the marine industry?
I grew up on Tellico Lake waterskiing and tubing.  I wanted to be part of a team that built something people had a passion for. 
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
The marine industry is handcrafted and labor intensive, therefore creating an environment where people know they are appreciated is key to a successful organization.  Our customers buy the product to relax and make memories, so it is important that we create the ultimate on the water experience through design, technology and quality.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
Reaching 5 million man-hours without a lost time accident is the one achievement I am most proud of. This accomplishment is one that not many manufacturers have reached and it truly reflects our commitment to safety as one of our core values.
The most memorable achievement for me was leading the vertical integration of engine marinization for Malibu Boats. This was a project that no other manufacturer has ever done.  The integration team included project managers, engineering, quality, operations, and partnerships with outside design firms.  The team successfully designed 5-star certified engines for Malibu Boats, giving our boaters a more reliable, powerful and cleaner engine.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry?Why or why not?
I had 11 years’ experience in production management, but I joined the marine industry in Process Engineering because operational promotions were given to the best boat builders. It took several years to gain respect and show people that a good leader does not have to know how to do all jobs, they need to know how to lead people to do their best work. My career path had me serving in many roles (Project Management, EHS Manager, Vertical Integration Director), but I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given by people who recognized my talents.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I hope to lead by example. When women in the industry look at me, I want them to believe they can reach the goals they aspire. Opportunities will open for those that work hard and are persistent.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
My advice to others is nothing worth having comes easy; work hard and always be willing to learn so opportunities will open. 
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
Family, sports, reading, going to the mountains and the beach. I also enjoy coaching girls’ softball and watching them grow as individuals.

Katie Tan
Manager Sales Operation, Volvo Penta of America

Education: MSc Industrial Engineering and Management
Years in the marine industry: 14 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
I did not grow up boating even though I grew up in the coastal city of Gothenburg, Sweden. Not until I joined Volvo Penta did I learn more about the marine industry. When I started my current position at Volvo Penta of the Americas, I got the privilege to use the company boat and ever since, my interest in boating has started to grow. I really enjoy spending time on the water with family and my kids definitely love it.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
I would say to not be afraid of taking on new challenges and be open to change. That is why I am in the US now; I am glad I took the opportunity to re-locate here. I moved from a previous position working with supply chain to a position that allows me to work closer with customers. While it is challenging, it is also fun and has allowed me to learn more about customer needs. I think it is a journey that everyone should try to experience if you get the chance. Another lesson I want to mention is the importance of investing in your team. Empower them to take initiatives, be more versatile and be more comfortable in taking the lead.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
Throughout the global shortage of material and transport capacity, my team has done a great job at following up on every single shipment and keeping close communication with the customers. In this difficult time, every update is important. We have received very nice feedback from the customers about our strong communication during this uncertain time.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
Take initiatives and be dedicated. The more you try out of your comfort zone, the further those boundaries will extend without you even noticing. I think as a manager it is important to support with empowering the team and encouraging them to take initiatives.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
You do not have to grow up boating to become a part of this industry. You will learn and you will navigate if you are dedicated and open to taking on new challenges. Do not be afraid of the technical side of the product, it is actually very interesting once you start understanding in general how it works. Be curious and ask your peers questions. That shows interest.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
We mostly explore the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach.

Kim Wilkinson
General Manager, MarineMax Danvers

Education: Associates Degree
Years in the marine industry: 7-plus Years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
My family had an RV Dealership when I was in high school, so I have been a part of the recreational industry my entire life. I am a lifelong camper and boater and have always loved the time I get to spend with family and friends camping and boating. The boating lifestyle has created some wonderful memories for me and my family, so it felt natural to transition my career to the boating industry.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
I have learned so much by being a part of the marine industry. I would say the biggest lesson I have learned is that anything is possible in life – with hard work, support, and commitment.  Having relationships with strong mentors and leaders, has proven to be one of the best things I have done for myself to create a solid foundation for my career in the marine industry. The knowledge and wisdom these relationships provide have been an integral part of the success I have had in the marine industry.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
The most memorable achievement for me would be becoming General Manager of the MarineMax Danvers store. Although this only occurred this past September of 2020, it is by far the biggest achievement for me in my career as whole, not just within in the marine industry. This was a scary endeavor for me, not knowing how successful I could be in the position. I have been extremely fortunate to have a remarkable team that has supported me these past 10 months. I have successfully created a work environment that my team members enjoy coming to every day and our customers receive the benefits from – and we have had an exceptional first eight months of our 2021 fiscal year as a result with almost a $3m increase in store revenue YOY.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
As part of MarineMax I have been given several opportunities to elevate my career in this industry. The education, experience, and support that is offered by MarineMax has made it very easy to navigate my career in the marine industry.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I hope that I can inspire other women through being an example of a successful woman in the marine industry. I often share how I joined the marine industry and ultimately became the General Manager with our team members, my peers, and our customers. I encourage women to explore the career opportunities within the marine industry and know that anything is possible if you are willing to do the work and make the commitment.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
The best advice I would give to women starting their careers in the marine industry is to never give up. Know your worth and reach for what may seem impossible through hard work, dedication, and commitment.
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
I am a huge advocate for serving a higher purpose and giving back. I participate in a lot of volunteering the supports men and women to have successful relationships in their lives – with their significant others, co-workers, family, and friends. I also enjoy a good beach sunset during the summer months and spending quality time with my family.

Tracy Williams
SVP, Marine Vertical Leader, TCF Inventory Finance

Education: College Graduate
Years in the marine industry: 25 years
Other companies you have worked for in the marine industry and titles you held within those companies:

• Senior Sales Manager, GE Commercial Distribution Finance

• National Program Manager - Marine, GE Money

• Sales Manager, Toronto International Boat Show

What first drew you to the marine industry?
I grew up in Ontario, Canada, and we are fortunate to be surrounded by many beautiful lakes, so I have always had a real love for the water. As a kid I spent every summer at my grandparents’ cottage, going boating with family and friends. The water draws people together and I have so many fond memories of my childhood.
When I started my career in finance, of all the industries we served, the Marine industry resonated with me the most because of the people in it. They are like a large extended family, and their passion for the boating lifestyle is unsurpassed. They love what they do, and it makes you want to be a part of their network too!
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
Relationships matter the most. Transparency, integrity, and trust are key. The Marine industry is a tight knit community built on long-term connections; however, they will be quick to adopt you if you are open, honest, and just be yourself.  People are always more than willing to help you if you ask them and the friendships you create will last a lifetime.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
Being part of a three-person team to launch the TCF Inventory Finance business in Canada is a major highlight of my career. It was truly like “pioneering”. In the beginning it was like a scene out of the comedy show “The Office”.  We shared one phone with a long extension cord and were crammed into a small office with second-hand furniture. Nobody was calling! From negotiating a lease for new office space to hiring personnel, listening to customer feedback and developing solutions to help their businesses, we grew into the organization we are today.  I still have the very first invoice we ever financed in a frame on my desk.  I am so grateful our customers were willing to give us a chance.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry?Why or why not?
I loved it from the minute I got into it. I will say however that in the beginning, I felt like perhaps I had to work harder to prove myself being a woman in the industry. There are so many boat builders, boat types, key players, and places to boat, that I had to show I had knowledge in these areas to be taken seriously and respected. But I embraced the challenge and learned that with perseverance and dedication, there are amazing people in this business who share the same passion and are willing to collaborate.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I hope that other women see that the Marine industry has evolved, and it is no longer considered a “men only” environment. There are women leading boat manufacturing companies, operating marinas, running dealerships, big teams, and other large organizations. Women are succeeding at all levels so do not be afraid to dip your toe in the water.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
You must earn respect. Be open to learning, do your research, and network as much as you can. Immerse yourself in the industry by visiting shows, following trends, gaining insight from others who may have come before you, and discovering whom the influencers are.  Stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are unsure. Most importantly, just listen. Finally, credibility is everything.  If you do all these things, not only will the industry embrace you, but will also do what they can to help you to achieve your goals.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
There are too many to simply pick one. I’ve enjoyed boating from Southwest Florida with the dolphins, to pristine Georgian Bay and the beautiful anchorages in the Thousand Islands in Ontario.

Jana Wood
Co-Owner /Vice President, South Florida Marine

Education: Bachelor of Arts Degree in from State University College at Cortland
Years in the marine industry: 21 years
What first drew you to the marine industry?
My love for the water started as a kid when I spent my summer vacations on Lake George New York, Skiing and fishing.  My love for the water generates through my family with two sons who have caught the boating bug as well. When my husband and I had an opportunity to start selling and repairing boats we took a chance, on doing what we love. Together with a great staff, we have created South Florida Marine.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
Always enjoy being “out on the boat.” Whether you are out with the community during an event or just with the family and with friends—always be safe and have fun.  It takes a lot of hard work, patience, love for the community, and balance with family to make the dealership work. 
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
Expanding our dealership from a small industrial rental to purchasing property and creating a dealership that spreads three city blocks on the most well-travelled Highway in Florida.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I hope to inspire all women to be part of the marine industry because why not?
I started by just enjoying the water.  I genuinely enjoy seeing other families out on the water having fun together! Promoting family fun—I would ask all women to get their feet wet promoting boating safety and to start learning the water ways –especially driving the boats. 
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Take a boating safety course; learn as much as you can about the boats. Take charge of driving while out on the water. Whether you’re in the driver’s seat or behind the scenes always a good idea to know the rules of the waterways! 
What is your favorite place to go boating?
My favorite place to go boating is the intercoastal waterways of South Florida and the big blue Atlantic Ocean.  Though not very popular, on a nice boating day I love to wakesurf out on the ocean! I also enjoy fishing and scuba diving.

SONY DSC

MaryKate Wood
Co-Founder, President, Wake WorX, LLC

Education: University of Maine
Years in the marine industry: 10
Other companies you have worked for in the marineindustry and titles you held within those companies:
Actually, co-creating Wake WorX was my first Marine Industry position, one which started as a “kitchen-table startup” with my husband Scott. Before my career in the marine industry, I held Management positions in Restaurants, Hotels and Wholesale/Retail Manufacturing Companies.
What first drew you to the marine industry?
In the first year I met my husband, Scott, he brought me to IBEX, FLIBS and MIBS and I fell in love with the marine industry! I recall telling him, “I want in,” and that was the beginning. It took seven years to bring the dream to fruition and it has been a fulfilling, exciting, demanding, enriching and deeply satisfying experience.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?
One of the biggest lessons that I learned is that the marine industry is a unique one, as we are not just creating boats, we are creating experiences like no other. Boating brings together families, friends, colleagues and even strangers. Since the marine industry workforce is ever changing, as people are always seeking to work at the best brands in the moment, it is always, “Where are you now?” instead of, “How are you?”— an anomaly that I have not encountered in other industries. Additionally, I learned that it is extremely important to grow close relationships with your colleagues, vendors and customers. It is an industry that brings you great success with the proper networking and friendships, and you learn to never burn a bridge over a small slight. These interpersonal connections are what drew me to the marine industry in the first place, and I am thrilled to call this my world.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?
Winning the MIBS Environmental Innovation Award for our Aquatic Invasive Species Filtration System, Mussel Mast’R, is certainly my most memorable achievement in the marine industry. The Mussel Mast’R is the only tested, approved, and available product of its kind and this notable award allowed our company to subsequently stand out and be recognized from many additional sources as well. In fact, immediately following MIBS, I was invited to Capitol Hill by RRISC to receive recognition for, “outstanding achievement by a private sector company in protecting America’s environment and economy,” a prestigious accolade. In addition, at the Industry Breakfast we were informed that they created the Environmental Category just for our product, an inimitable honor. It feels so rewarding to be recognized and celebrated for our innovation and daring to amalgamate public and private spheres of environmental preservation within the marine industry through divergent thinking and design.
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry?Why or why not?
For me, initially navigating the marine industry was a distinctive one, simultaneously arduous yet surprisingly fluid, given the fact that my husband was an esteemed 30-year marine industry veteran and the co-founder of Wake WorX. During the inception of our company, Scott served as our designer and respected marine expert, and thankfully still does, while I was the unknown Owner-Operator and totally new to the industry. This outward dynamic proved to be challenging, as I was often perceived as just the “face” of the company when in reality I was working full time as the President and producer of nearly all day-to-day operations. I believe that with over a decade of hard work, dedication to my new-found passion in Wake WorX, and exposure to the industry through MIBS, IBEX, boat shows, dealer meetings, countless conferences, joining ABYC AIS-PTC Committees and the NMMA MACD Board, I have found firm footing and my own successful and thriving career in the Marine Industry.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry?
I trust that my story will inspire other women to have faith in themselves, no matter the obstacles. I believe that embracing change, even seeking it, is at the heart of my success. It is my hope that my presence in the marine industry, as a prosperous female leader, creates an example that guides other women to recognize their potential and opportunity within our marine family. By acknowledging my strengths and limitations, stepping out of my comfort zone, and summoning the energy to work countless nights and weekends, I believe that my work has expanded the breadth of the marine industry itself. This all has been achieved while enjoying the climb and apex of becoming a noteworthy, confident, auspicious, minority female business owner in the marine Industry.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
My advice to women starting their careers in the marine industry is to recognize that even though it is a predominantly male-dominated space, it is imperative to avoid feelings of intimidation or to allow yourself to believe that women are not welcome. Women’s voices, creativity, ingenuity, energy, and unique perspectives are desired to balance this ever-growing, diverse, and accepting industry. Today, more than ever, women are not only joining the marine industry, but thriving and climbing to the highest levels of success. Also, always remember to follow, revere, and emulate incredibly successful women like Ann Baldree and Kris Carroll, who paved the way for all women executives in the marine Industry. 
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies?
My favorite non-boating hobbies are traveling, biking, reading, live concerts, writing, yoga, theatre, hiking, cross-training and gardening. Anything that involves nature, family, or creativity is where my heart lies.

Annamarie Worrell
Marine Consultant & Boat Club Manager, Emerald Coast Marine

Education: Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
Years in the marine industry: 15 years
Other companies you have worked for in the marine industry and titles you held within those companies:  

  • Show Administrator for Miami International Boat Show, NMMA
  • Marketing Coordinator, Legendary Marine
  • N. FL Regional Marketing Manager, MarineMax
  • Client Relations & Boat Club Coordinator, Emerald Coast Marine
  • Boat Club & Marketing Manager, Emerald Coast Marine
  • Marine Consultant & Boat Club Manager, Emerald Coast Marine

What first drew you to the marine industry? 
It was always the people for me, I’ve been to a lot of boat shows and met a lot of different people from every corner of the industry, every one passionate, driven, smart and just really inspiring to be around.  Boating is fun, so the work should be fun, I always felt that with any group I worked with, even through the challenges the outcomes were always fun because we were creating fun!
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry?  
No two days are the same, no two seasons or years are the same! We must always be evolving, re-inventing, re-inspiring. Be flexible, adaptable and have fun!   
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why?  
Women Making Waves of course! Every day I get to be on the water with my clients is pretty memorable.  I’m constantly reminding myself that some of my families have saved their whole lives for this or dreamt their whole lives of the day they could buy a boat! 
Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not?
Yes and no, I have always had great leaders and mentors to look up to, they’ve always kind of been my wings and even when I didn’t think I was up for the task they gave me that extra nudge to go for it!
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry? 
Just keep doing what I’m doing and hope others are watching and can feel inspired or motivated to go for it!
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry?
Be bold, be brave and go for it!  Worst that can happen, you learn! Take those experiences with you everywhere you go.
What is your favorite place to go boating?
Crab Island, Destin, FL with family and friends or cruising the ICW with my husband.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*