Navigating Troubled Waters in Changing Times: Servant Leadership Lessons From Captain Sandy
Captain Sandy captured our attention as the first female superyacht captain on Bravo’s Below Deck Mediterranean, and her fascinating stories of servant leadership are captivating today’s in-person and virtual audiences. In her 30+ years of international maritime experience, Captain Sandy has broken glass ceilings, survived near-fatal accidents on land, and faced fires and even pirates at sea.
Most business leaders will never have such life-or-death challenges in their daily work. But surviving stormy seas taught Captain Sandy invaluable lessons that she shares with audiences about character building, acknowledging failure, inspiring a crew, and empowering them to win as a team “in the same boat.” Commanding a 154-foot vessel requires knowing when to be tough enough to stay the course or flexible enough to navigate toward calmer waters – decisions all leaders face every day. Throughout her career, Captain Sandy has lived up to her mantra: “Wake up, show up, kick ass, repeat!”
Charting Your Own Course — Despite the Obstacles
Captain Sandy shares her remarkable story of overcoming addiction and cancer to become a world-renowned superyacht captain and lead on the popular Bravo reality show Below Deck Mediterranean. With her story of strength, resilience and resolve that led her to the top of a male-dominated field, Captain Sandy inspires audiences to overcome all obstacles and not let fear get in the way. Her survivorship story, blended with her Below Deck leadership escapades, makes for a wildly entertaining keynote experience.
Port of Call: Teamwork Lessons from the High Seas
Imagine the leadership and teamwork challenges you would face if the bulk of your staff turned over every week. How do you inspire your crew to work together when most of them meet just hours before setting out to sea? How do you instill a sense of teamwork and mission to flawlessly execute under these conditions? As one of the world’s first female professional yacht captains, Sandy discusses how she practices servant leadership while navigating these workplace and human capital challenges. From the beginning of a voyage to the final port of call, Sandy uses vivid storytelling to impart valuable teamwork lessons and character-building insights learned from her three decades on the high seas.
On Deck: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
With three decades of yachting experience, Captain Sandy is the first female captain featured on Bravo’s Below Deck Mediterranean, and one of only a handful of female captains in the yachting industry at large. As such, Captain Sandy has had to overcome both personal and professional obstacles that have made her one of the most respected captains in the industry, one of television's most beloved personalities and an icon of women's leadership. A champion of gender equality and proud member of the LGBTQ community, Captain Sandy’s talk not only offers empowerment and inspiration from her wildly and vastly diverse life experiences, but as a leader she makes a compelling case for the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion in any organization.
Captain Sandra Yawn is a world renowned captain in the yachting industry with over 30 years of experience. Yawn’s love for the ocean propelled her to achieve the highest status as a mega yacht captain in a male dominated industry. Her dedication and attention to detail has earned her an outstanding reputation in an elite class of captains as the recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Crew Award for the International Super Yacht Society in 2006 when she was able to ensure the safety of all guests, crew, and the even the vessel during a catastrophic fire off the coast of Yemen.
Yawn, always the professional, earned a United States Coastguard Masters of Oceans 1600T/3000T and the United States Coast Guard and Maritime Coast Guard Agency Class IV CEC. She values professional organizations and remains an active member of the Captain’s Advisory Council for SeaKeepers Society, International Super Yachts Society, United States Super Yacht Association, and the Professional Yachting Association.
The undeniable resilience Yawn possesses has not only pushed her to the top of the yachting industry but also allowed her to focus on philanthropic collaboration, ocean advocacy, and children’s education. Yawn is an active board member or advisor for many philanthropic groups including the Jacksonville School for Autism, a not for profit organization that Yawn’s sister founded for the captain’s nephew, Nicholas.
Yawn continually uses her experience and life’s trials and tribulations to educate and help others. She survived a life threatening motorcycle accident, threat of pirates, and even cancer. She appeared on the Emmy Award winning talk show The Doctors in hopes of sharing her personal experiences to educate others about cancer and health.
Yawn is currently the captain on Bravo TV’s reality show Below Deck Mediterranean. Yawn’s unique leadership style of embracing teachable moments to train and educate her staff have earned her fan favorite accolades. Yawn is a hands on type Captain who leads by example and is not afraid to do whatever it takes to get the job done.