Event recap: BWN Women In… super yachts

Alisha King is a testament to the concept of ‘Live life to the fullest’.

At 30 years of age, she has travelled around the world, broken the glass ceiling in the maritime industry forging a career path that’s taken her in every which way – with all roads leading to running her own business Tidal Yachting.

As much as this event was a look into the maritime industry and an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Vessel Works in Sulphur Point, it was a chance to hear from Alisha and her frank, honest and often hilarious take on her career.

Born in Australia, raised in Tairua (Coromandel), Alisha says her independence began at a young age. In her teen years, while her peers were planning their future careers, Alisha was unsure what she wanted to do or where to go. It wasn’t until a local Careers Expo, where she was challenged to do 100 push ups for a prize at the Navy stand, that she had her ‘ah-ha’ moment.

From age 15 to 17, she thought about and planned for her 18th birthday when, 25 days later, she enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).

Some of her highlights in the Navy include becoming a minor war vessel navigator, at age 21, learnt and utilised astro navigation while traveling to remote destinations, and partook in a multitude of adventures including World War II ordinance disposal in Papua New Guinea and passaging to Antarctica in 10m swells.  

When the navy took her as far as she could go, Alisha left and headed for Europe to try her hand at working on super yachts. The whole experience was daunting and challenging. From where to go and what to do, to who to talk to, the advice she was given by someone in the industry was spend the money, do it and figure it out when you get there. It’s this uncertainty that (in part) led her to create Tidal (more on this later).

 A world away from the navy, Alisha had to relearn a very different part of the maritime industry, Yachting!, and so started out as a deck hand, absorbing all she could about this new world, eventually becoming mate and then captain (fun fact: She was the only female captain on the largest yacht in the Dubai International Yacht Show at age 23).

But captaincy wasn’t for her, as she enjoyed the lifestyle and work that came with working on the boats, not steering them, and Alisha went off to do a stint training as a chef in London, returning to the yachts as a Chef, before planning her exit strategy back home to New Zealand.

That strategy included starting her own business, Tidal Yachting. When she first started, the focus of the business was on getting crew into super yachts, however her experience and industry demands have enabled her to create a more full-service approach for the wider maritime industry.

Tidal now does crew recruitment specialising in super yacht recruitment. As a Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) compliant recruitment agency , there is a greater level of protection for the young crew she is looking to place into roles. Under the MLC, the yachts must meet specific standards in terms of looking after their workforce and ensuring their safety. While Alisha didn’t have that certainty or support starting her way into the industry, she makes sure up-and-comers are now well looked after through her agency.

They also offer crew consultation with potential recruits, talking them through what their career could look like and what to do before they have even stepped on a yacht, as well as offering logistics and compliance support for vessels world wide.

And, when she’s not at Tidal, Alisha is travel lift operator and team leader at Vessel Works, spending her days on the machinery and in steel capped boots (although you wouldn’t know it in the heels she was in tonight).


Alisha King holding a wine glass

Self-confessed competitive Alisha has ambitions to grow their business internationally, one day having bases in Europe and USA. While she has her goals, she is the first to admit she doesn’t know everything, which is why she has been working with business consultant Janet Brooker (JB Business) through the Regional Business Partner Programme.

She also worked with Jill Fryer from Upshot in the early stages of her career and Jill helped her answer those all-important questions to get her business off on the right foot.

After a breath-taking chat and a few questions from the floor, Alisha took our attendees out on to the hard stand, and explained a bit about what her role at Vessel Works entails. It was a privilege to take a look behind the buildings we see so often crossing the harbour bridge but never get a chance to step foot on. The sheer size and scale of the buildings and equipment required to lift and transport these super yachts is remarkable, and it was even more impressive to have someone like Alisha as one of the driving forces in this company.

Thank you to everyone who attended, to Alisha and Hayley from Tidal for hosting, and to Alisha’s friends and family for coming along to support as well.

Our annual BWN Christmas Lunch is now open for bookings. We’re very excited to have partnered with Kura Kai this year, with $10 from every ticket going to this fantastic new local charity. Full details available here.

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