At the 8th International Breakfast Meeting during the recent Boot in Düsseldorf, many key figures in the global yachting industry spoke about the future of the professional figures the sector needs.
Among them was a young and brilliant girl: Ione Astondoa. Born in 1993, aged less than 30, she is already in charge of marketing, human resources and cost management at the famous Spanish shipyard Astondoa. The Spanish company was founded by his great-grandfather Jesús Astondoa Martinez in 1916, and after more than 100 years of family-run business, now with Ione, it has reached the fourth generation.
A pure millennial, who despite the backwardness of the industry is not worried about her young age, but on the contrary, knows that preparation is the basis of everything: she must always be ready, she must prepare herself much more than other people, to try to counter those stereotypes and doubts that older people have about her.
Having grown up from a young age in the famous Spanish shipyard, she spent most of her childhood in the company alongside her grandfather, who passed on to her a passion for the sea and yachting. Thanks to her young age and the generational change she has brought to Astondoa, she has managed in a short time to bring innovations and new perspectives into the company, which only a fresh look can provide.
In your opinion, in what innovations has the generational change that you have brought to the company resulted?
“Sustainability is definitely one of the first innovations. I know that not all companies in all sectors are the same, but one of my goals is to be as sustainable as possible, to reduce emissions and to give employees the opportunity to get to work in a greener way: by public transport or other means, which would be useful to reduce city pollution. Then I would like to adopt technology to enhance human labour even more, without ever losing the craftsmanship and skills of artisan work that allow us to take on more value. I would like to balance the two worlds: the artisan and the technological, to create a handmade and less polluting production thanks to the use of the best technologies. I think being able to balance these two worlds is a good plan for the future.”
The future has great things in store for the yard and for Ione herself, who wants to keep growing the company by aiming to reach an international level. The path will be long, but in the last three years, the shipyard has already invested heavily in corporate communication and in exporting the brand outside Spain, where it is the only pleasure boat builder of this size.
In addition to her young age, the fourth Astondoa generation, represented by Ione, has led to another important innovation: she is the first woman on the yard’s board. A very important factor given the historical presence of men in the boating world, a sign that things, perhaps, are changing.
One of the greatest desires of Ione, who is the only girl in the Alicante facility, is to break down those ideological barriers that limit women in sectors like the boating one. Her philosophy is simple: equal career opportunities for all, skills are enough.
Even the old brand communication is undergoing a total upheaval, bringing Astondoa into a new era: one led by young people and digital-oriented. At the end of the interview, I wanted to ask just one question about the impact that digital has in the boating industry, and this was Ione’s thought on the matter:
“We have to be aware that the boating industry grows slower than other sectors, and we are a bit behind. However, the way we communicate is very important for our customers. We have to be aware of the fact that our customers are online. I know that selling a boat is a tangible thing… people want to see and touch the making of a boat and get on board before buying it, but at the same time, it’s the way we communicate that allows us to be online and to expand and be known, even by those who are not our customers. It is important, and must be a priority: our image must fully reflect what we do and how we do it, even if we know that Instagram is not our market. Being digital and interconnected allows you to be known and present for everyone, maybe if we had not started this digital brand revolution, Astondoa would not be here now, we have to invest in digital because even if the result is not tangible, it is always worth it.”
This article is also available in: German