Learning to Succeed

He grew up on the water in Long Island, N.Y., went to State University of New York Maritime College, earned a Third Mate’s License in the Merchant Marine, became an officer in the United States Navy, and took over as president of the American Boat & Yacht Council in 2002 — but Skip Burdon isn’t comfortable being described as a mover or a shaker.
He prefers the term facilitator.
“I’m a facilitator, and everybody else does the moving and shaking based on my facilitation, hopefully,” Burdon says.
As a co-producer of February’s Conference on Marine Industry Technical Training, Burdon’s skills were on full display as he helped bring nearly 200 industry stakeholders and educators to Florida for a first-of-its-kind series of meetings designed to improve the educational infrastructure for marine service technicians.
COMITT, which Burdon called one of the highlights of his career, was an event that, even if he didn’t know it, the ABYC president has been working toward much of his life.
Challenged with a learning disability to overcome as a child, some of Burdon’s teachers discouraged him from higher education. Instead, Burdon realized that although he had a harder time learning through the standard books-and-tests method of education, he just needed to take a different path to reach his goals.
“I try to dedicate my life to learning everyday, and making learning not only a lifelong endeavor, but a journey, and I continue to believe that,” says Burdon, who now holds a master’s degree in business. “I think sometimes we sell our youth short by not encouraging them to pursue their passion. If that passion takes them to vocational training, follow it.”
Burdon’s job at ABYC is the perfect marriage of his passion for education to his love of boating. He is in an ideal position to facilitate the growth of learning programs and opportunities, which will in turn, help grow the industry.
But Burdon emphasizes his role as simply one part of a collective effort. Full participation and industry-wide commitment will be vital if the industry is to compete successfully in the coming years.

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