Women at the Helm: Alicia Store - dsnm Ltd
After taking a gap year between college and university, (which subsequently turned in to a permanent gap year), Alicia went to work for Sunseeker brokerage in Poole, UK which ignited her interest in boats and the marine industry.
A few years later in 2008, Alicia joined dsnm ltd, initially as a fleet manager, but as the company was much smaller at that stage (just 4 people) they covered all functions.
Alicia now jointly owns and runs the company with her husband, David Store who originally founded the company in 2000, we asked her to explain her current role:
"My role, as Chief Operating Officer, focuses on the operational side of the business including staff management, training, building the company brand, marketing and business development in the market. Over the last decade, I have at some point worked in every single department and almost every role as the company expanded, so I feel that gives me a pretty good understanding of what each role requires from each employee. We are now the world’s largest privately owned, superyacht navigation company with over 450 clients and 25 staff".
Alicia continued; "I am extremely proud that dsnm is 70% female employees with two thirds of managerial roles within the company being filled by women. Although I don’t think anyone could argue that currently the superyacht industry is not male dominated, I do think it’s encouraging to see more influential and decision-making roles being filled by females. It’s our job as company owners to support and encourage the shift in balance.
I feel extremely fortunate that I am surrounded by many driven and inspiring females that are constantly breaking stereotypes in the workplace. My team consists of women who are at the very start of their careers, women who are in the prime of building their careers, women who have had families and restarted their careers and women who are balancing both young families and their careers currently. All of which, I find inspiring.
I also count myself lucky to have strong female influences in my personal life with many friends who are breaking glass ceilings in their own varied industries".
'I love the challenge of constantly moving the company forward, although some days it doesn’t feel like there are enough hours in the day! I think I would be very bored in a job where I treaded water and didn’t feel I could make change and progress. Luckily, I’m pretty sure my whole team feel the same so working with a group of very driven, motivated and positive individuals is really rewarding.
My job allows me to scratch the creative side of my brain and push the entrepreneur part of my brain which is one of the reasons I love my role. I also enjoy being able to work with my husband. I know some people will say that doesn’t sound so appealing, but we share the same drive and commitment to the company succeeding. We have very different skill sets and strengths, that compliment each other, and no one in the world wants our company to be a success as much as we do".
We asked Alicia to share her advice to other women who might aspire to lead a company in the superyacht industry, she shared her thoughts, idea and perspective with us. "Firstly, keep going! If someone tells me that I can’t do something, it has generally always had the opposite effect on me and incentivised me more to do it, not necessarily to prove them wrong but to prove to myself that I knew I was right to want to do it in the first place.
I think we can often be put off by feeling imposter syndrome of being in a certain position, situation or role which comes both from our own insecurities and sadly external influences in the workplace.
I believe it’s not about shouting the loudest but about being confident that what you have to say and what you have to bring to the table is worthy of others around you listening because it has value.
Personally, when I am looking to recruit a new member of staff, I look for the “best” person for the job irrelevant of gender, but recruitment does need to be proactively moving to open up opportunities to new candidates that perhaps historically wouldn’t be approached or considered. The responsibility lays with the companies recruiting to not be lazy and ensuring they are doing what they can to be fair and diverse in the recruitment process and that they we are offering an attractive workplace for all genders. This can only have a positive impact for all, businesses will have a far bigger pool of candidates with wider skill sets and knowledge bases to choose from".
Apart from the obvious benefit of quite a bit of travel, Alicia has been lucky to meet a lot of really interesting people from different backgrounds. She tells us, "No two crew members are the same and on a superyacht you get a real mix of nationalities and characters. Over the years, we have made some friends that we may not get to see for weeks, months or even years but when we catch up, it’s like no time has passed".
We also asked Alicia to expand on what makes her most proud and she stated, "Most recently, I am extremely proud of the way our team has functioned in the most challenging times throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As a company and as individuals, we had never faced a situation like the last 21 months and our team really stepped up and ensured that all our clients were supported and had the same level of service as pre-pandemic.
The majority of our team adapted extremely well to working from home in a very short time and the remainder adapted to working within the office under really strict COVID restrictions. Both situations had challenges and the whole team really unified to make it work".
In 2017 dsnm Ltd won the coveted Queens Award for Enterprise and International Trade and were fortunate enough to be able to go Buckingham Palace to a reception hosted by the Queen. It was a huge achievement and a great moment for David and Alicia, and of course the team to really appreciate what they had built.
In the past 5 years, dsnm have developed from being purely a service provider to developing their own unique software and digital solutions, therefore growing into a tech company. Although a natural progression for the company it wouldn’t have been possible without a great team who believed in the same dream as Alicia and David.
"I look at the company and feel an immense sense of pride when I see what we have built and the people I am on this journey with. The team of employees I’m surrounded by are genuinely some of the most committed and hardworking people I know. Our clients repeatedly use our services because of the quality of service we provide them.
I take great pride that our company can proudly say, we have a team primarily made from successful and influential females of our own making waves in the superyacht industry".
Throughout the last 4 months we have put on a spotligh some incredible females at the top of their field within the superyacht industry in our Women at the Helm series, highlighting the different paths that females have taken in what was traditionally a male dominated industry.