Passage Maker - - Q&A -


this hap­pen?

Del­phine An­dré: It was my dream job since I was a young girl. My par­ents had this very old English boat, aft cabin, and we went to sea. My god! I was about to go to vet­eri­nary school, and I said, “No. I want to make boats.”


You were go­ing to go to vet­eri­nary school?

An­dré: Yeah, yeah. I was go­ing to go but I dis­cov­ered boats. I love the sea and to go cruis­ing, so I said, “no!” I de­cided to go to business school in­stead of vet­eri­nary [school], and I made all my in­tern­ships in yachts, some­times big yachts. I needed to do some­thing in­dus­trial after school, so I went to the au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try, so maybe I would have some­thing to of­fer Beneteau, when I de­cided to go to Beneteau.

I went to Re­nault, the French au­to­mo­tive builder. I was in hu­man re­sources, then I de­cided to go to the prod­uct depart­ment. I had five or six years in the prod­uct depart­ment, and then they were hir­ing at Beneteau, and I said, “Now I am quite ready.” I de­cided to ap­ply, and they gave me the po­si­tion.

Pas­sage­Maker: So they looked at this woman from the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try, and they said, “She can build boats.” An­dré: Yeah, she can. It was a to­tally dif­fer­ent job, I know. But I think the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try pro­vided a good back­ground. I learned a lot be­cause I was young, in terms of pro­cesses and met­al­lurgy. My back­ground al­lowed me to be more ob­jec­tive when build­ing a prod­uct.

Pas­sage­Maker: So when you are at work, what do you do? How does your day go from when­ever you get to work un­til you get to the café?

An­dré: There are many, many things to do, be­cause un­like the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try, there is of­ten only one per­son to do a lot of things, whether it’s strat­egy, mar­ket­ing or project man­age­ment, or to give some support to the deal­ers, to help them sell boats to their prospects.

Pas­sage­Maker: So you have a sales role too? Are you deal­ing with ac­tual cus­tomers then?

An­dré: No, no, but it de­pends on the boat show. Some­times a dealer says, “Hey, come with me, be­cause you know the boat bet­ter than me. You can tell me where we can put the dish­washer” or what­ever. That’s be­cause there are so many boats to sell from Beneteau, the dealer can­not know ev­ery­thing by heart. And also when I go to the trawler ren­dezvous with the own­ers, it helps to take back what they say about their boats.

Pas­sage­Maker: When you are at work, do you spend all your time in the of­fice or do you go to the fac­tory.

An­dré: It de­pends, es­pe­cially when we are de­vel­op­ing a new prod­uct. The first new model is a night­mare for the fac­tory. But also be­cause of my sec­ond hat as en­gi­neer­ing man­ager, what hap­pens is that when you give a project to an en­gi­neer­ing depart­ment, be­cause of in­dus­trial con­straints or be­cause they don’t know the mar­ket, they some­times for­get the cus­tomer we are tar­get­ing. We have to say, for in­stance, don’t do that, when they say it’s much eas­ier to put a switch here at the foot of the bed rather than the head of the bed, so I’m the one that says, “No, do not do this.”

Pas­sage­Maker: So when you were tak­ing us through the boats, you would say, “We did this or we did that,” but it came about as the re­sult of a de­bate or at least a con­ver­sa­tion.





Yeah for sure.



pi­lot th­ese boats?



How long have you been do­ing this job?

Five years. I came to Beneteau in 2008.

An­dré: Yes, yes. I am not a cap­tain be­cause in France that is just for com­mer­cial marine not leisure, but I have my “driv­ing li­cense.” There are two in France. The lesser one is only for coastal cruis­ing and a sec­ond one that de­pends on boat size. I have had them both since I was 16. But I don’t have a boat. It is too ex­pen­sive.

Pas­sage­Maker: How many peo­ple at Beneteau have the ti­tle of prod­uct man­ager? You’re not the only one?

An­dré: No, no, no. We spe­cial­ize. There are one or two prod­uct man­agers for sail­boats. In the mo­tor­boat depart­ment, we have three. I have the trawler line and the Antares line.

Pas­sage­Maker: By the way the trawlers are very pretty boats, es­pe­cially the smaller ones.

Yes the 50 is huge but very “live­able.”

Pas­sage­Maker: In Europe, there’s no word for “trawler” so you use our word.

An­dré: Yeah. It’s re­ally part of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment to de­fine what is a trawler.

Pas­sage­Maker: I know. We have the same con­ver­sa­tion. Is a pow­ercat a trawler? Well I guess it is. I like to say that it’s in the owner’s mind. The boat may go fast, but the owner is go­ing to want to go slow to get the range. I guess the Euro­pean def­i­ni­tion of “trawler” is any­thing that can go more than 300 miles. You call it “au­ton­omy.”

Pas­sage­Maker: To us a trawler looks a bit like a fish­ing boat, but not in Europe, not at Beneteau. They look a lit­tle bit like mil­i­tary pa­trol craft.

An­dré: That ver­ti­cal ori­en­ta­tion, yes. When you ask a de­signer to de­sign a new boat, you present sev­eral draw­ings to the deal­ers. If you go too far, they’ll tell you: That’s not a trawler. There are ex­te­rior clues for a trawler.

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