28 YEARS AT OCEANCO
Marcel Onkenhout has been part of the Oceanco family since 1994, most of his working career. During these years, armed with an educational background in industrial engineering, Marcel has held a number of job titles such as operations manager, project manager, general manager of sales and marketing, and deputy managing director. When Dr. Mohammed Barwani acquired Oceanco in 2010, Marcel was appointed CEO.
He is a hands-on managing director who possess an intimate knowledge of every aspect of Oceanco.
Who has been your biggest role model during your studies and/or career path and how has this person inspired you?
I haven’t had any particular role models but there are two quotes that have always stood out for me. The first is: “Surround yourself with people who are even more talented and competent than you,” which comes from the book, ‘‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’’ by Stephen Covey and the second is “As we look ahead to the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” Spoken by Bill Gates. I have tried to keep these words in the front of my mind throughout my career. Both serve as a reminder to stay humble and to work in partnership with others in order to achieve success in whatever your endeavours might be. I hope that I have stayed true to the spirit of both.
As a youngster, did you ever dream of becoming the CEO of a big yacht building company?
I’m not sure I was aware that such a job existed. But I have always loved being by the water and boats, which is perhaps in the DNA of a Dutchman! In fact, CEO was not really on my radar for a long while, even while working at Oceanco. A number of years after completing my degree in industrial engineering in Tilburg, the Netherlands, I joined Oceanco in 1994 as a project manager for the company’s fourth yacht, 50.6m Accolade (now Lady Z), which was constructed at Oceanco’s newly acquired Dreumel yard. Oceanco was a relative newcomer to the industry at that point, and we were setting new standards with our approach to yacht building.
A decade later, after experiencing practically every element of the yacht building process first-hand, I became the company’s General Manager of Marketing and Sales, followed by Deputy Managing Director and then finally CEO. It has been a privilege to work with so many outstanding colleagues, clients and Co-makers over the years. I am really proud of what we have achieved at Oceanco in the 28 years since I joined, including so many world firsts with our daring, one-of-akind superyachts. People at Oceanco are like family to me, and I am glad that together we continue to grow and evolve – leading the change in our industry with initiatives such as Oceanco NXT and Superyacht NFTs.
Apart from being the CEO of Oceanco, could you share with us your favourite way to spend your free time?
I love to be by the water and have always wanted to pass this on to my children. When we can, come rain or sunshine, my sons and I like to go fishing together. It is not just for the challenge of catching something, but the special moments that we share with one another and the chance to talk without distraction. That’s what I really love about it. And of course shopping with my daughters.
Our lives have been turned upside down throughout the world during the pandemic. Looking back on it now, what is the most valuable lesson you have learned in the past two years?
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that nothing beats spending time with family and our loved ones. Also, having a reliable team that you can count on is priceless.
Which current developments at Oceanco are you most excited about and why?
This is a big year for us in 2022, as we have a number of deliveries in relatively close succession. We weathered the storm and had a successful delivery of 117m Infinity in May. We also upgraded two existing yachts, Limitless and Lucky Lady. When the whole world felt like it was in disarray with the challenges of the pandemic, I am proud of what we have been able to achieve to keep moving forward. We are also developing our Oceanco NXT initiative to incorporate forward-thinking partners, which is great to see evolving. Additionally, we have our highly anticipated Superyacht NFTs project that is going from strength to strength with new utilities partners and opportunities continuing to develop. If the pandemic gave us a moment to pause and take stock, now we all have the chance to act on our resolutions and new energy.
Which challenge would you like to take on as a CEO in the future?
For a number of years Oceanco has been looking into the development of alternative energy sources for yachting. I would love to see this take off in a significant way. My hope is that more and more owners feel comfortable making a choice for sustainability, and for them to see that an ecoapproach would also be the best choice for their yachting experience and lifestyle onboard. It very much feels like we are on to some exciting breakthroughs and that we can lead the way for a change where transport on water exists in harmony with nature.