Meeli Lepik

Project Enzo

Life sometimes places us in unexpected situations. And the best things are often accidental. After graduating from my Theology studies in 2004, life took me between Estonia and Finland and although scared of sea, I accepted a position on board a ship sailing between the two counties. I have to say that I did not enjoy it much and after few months returned ashore to my other love – interior design. But, without me realizing it, I had given my three drops of blood to the sea god Neptune and few months later I was back on board, this time with no return. Today, 16 years later I can’t be prouder and more content to have chosen this path.

My sea career started off in commercial shipping on passenger ferry boats and this was soon followed by working with High Speed Crafts. As it happened, my last commercial job in 2008 was Head of Interior in Oman, where I was part of an infrastructure development project for the Sultanate, setting up a luxury passenger service. Extraordinary experiences make excellent stories so I ended up writing a travel book: ‘My Oman – Camel to Porsche in 56 Knots’

The publishing of this book brought some media attention and in one of the interviews I dared to mentioned my secret dream – working on a superyacht. An Estonian girl Ingrid Stahl read the article and got in touch with me offering to help me realise this dream. We became friends and owing it mainly to my Middle-Eastern knowledge, in May 2012 I found myself on board a shiny white 50m yacht as a 2nd Stewardess to be promoted to Chief Stewardess by Christmas.

When you are in the right place, things flow and in eight years I have worked on board three beautiful large motor yachts up to 125m, both as a Purser and Chief Stewardess. At the same time, I have been equally involved with their build and operation. Along the way, and thanks to my naturally curios mind, I have obtained many new skills; this has included a wine or cooking training, a superyacht management and maritime legislation course, learning a new language, introducing myself to basic engineering or getting further education in HR to confidently face the challenges of becoming a better leader. I always remain grateful for the kind help from a stranger and I make an effort to pay the favor forward by supporting and encouraging the industry newcomers.

Design, hospitality and traveling have always been my passions, so today I am blessed to be able to combine all these areas in one job – in a new build project. The reward of being part of creating something so complex is amazing; whether it is meeting the top professionals of their field, presenting tailored selection for the Owner’ s interior, having input for Eco-friendly lifestyle solutions or the pure joy of seeing your new team working well together.

I have learned that in the shipyards, the potentially valuable insight of the operational interior crew is often not utilised, yet on the occasion when it is, it seems to be much cherished and appreciated. In the coming years, I want to dedicate myself to raising the awareness and value of this useful resource. But in order to build perfect boats for happy crew and owners, one has to actually be at sea and therefore, I am looking forward to sailing again soon.

I am feeling very honoured for this nomination. Thank you.