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As founder, president, and CEO of human resources consulting firm BeamPines, Inc., Jonathan Jay” Santamaria ’71 trains businesspeople to expand leadership and teamwork skills aboard his 118-foot, traditionally-rigged schooner, Unicorn. The Chart Your Course, Executive Team Building, and custom-designed programs teach participants strategy and execution, roles and responsibility, how to lead in a crisis, and personal growth.

According to Santamaria, life aboard ship is the perfect metaphor for life in the corporate world.

“A tall ship is simply too big and complex for any single individual to manage alone,” he explains. “It requires that everyone fully understand his or her role and what is expected, so they can perform under any conditions. The winds, weather, and currents can move completely against you, and you need to be nimble in making and exercising contingency decisions. A ships’ company needs to operate as an inspired, motivated, and inspired team. In business, we focus on the success of the enterprise and everyone’s livelihoods depend upon it. At sea, the focus is on the successful passage, and everyone’s lives depend on it.”

Sailing is a family tradition for the Rhode Island native, whose first memories are of the ocean. At age seven, he began sailing the North Sea, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic off New England with his father. Even his surname and his wife and daughter’s names evoke the sea. Every grade school student knows that Columbus’s flagship was named the Santamaria, and his wife, Dawn, and a daughter, Chelsea, also have seaworthy names. No landlubbers, they. Dawn established the Sisters at Sea program to train young girls and businesswomen, and daughter Chelsea is a mentor for her three younger sisters.

Santamaria feels fortunate to have a family that supported his investment in the Unicorn.

“Dark rum and a very understanding wife [influenced the purchase],” he says. “I have always had the dream since reading C.S. Forester’s Hornblower series at the age of nine, and my wife made it possible for me. How lucky am I?”

His family’s personal growth is the most satisfying aspect of owning and operating a tall ship, he says. The improvement in their lives reflects what Santamaria hopes participants take away from his training programs.

“Seeing one of my daughters standing a night watch with the aurora borealis dancing above us as she learned how to keep her course by steering to a star [was most gratifying],” he says. “She has amazing confidence in what she can do. It’s been a rewarding experience for all four of my daughters. No one is unaffected by the things they experience and learn during a passage on a tall ship.”

A history graduate with a concentration in education, Santamaria recalls how the late Albert Gendebien, professor emeritus of history, made the past relevant to the future. That approach creates the foundation for his professional outlook and goals.

“The lessons I took from this were to focus on what we need to learn from the past — what went wrong and what went right — as we look to the future,” he says. “Understanding people and their behaviors is very critical to understanding what drives outcomes in business and in life. I haven’t strayed too far from the interests and lessons I took from my Lafayette experience.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles