Gabriel González, Gibraltar

We meet Gabriel González for today’s Sovereign Story. Joining the Group in Gibraltar 19 years ago, for most of that time he has been in charge and developed what is now Sovereign Marine Services. He has also recently taken on the role of Business Development Director for Sovereign Trust (Gibraltar) Ltd. The first thing he told us though is that we have been calling him by the wrong name since the start. We were intrigued.

Gabriel is from Spain, where the tradition is that both parents’ surnames are used when children are born. His father’s surname is García and his mother’s González, thus he was baptised Gabriel García González. Due to some sort of mix-up, when he joined Sovereign only his second family name was used. Gabriel reminds us that he arrived at the same time as another Spaniard (Antonio) and both decided not to make an issue of this, thinking it must be some sort of British tradition. Thus almost twenty years later, Gabriel is known as González by his colleagues – and the marine industry worldwide. His wife and family call him something else.

Gabriel was born and bred in the town of Los Barrios located between the huge port of Algeciras and Gibraltar on the other side of the bay. But how did his English become so fluent? Gabriel tells us that he began studying the language at the tender age of eight and so as a “mid forty-something” he has been bilingual for most of his life. As he grew up, he developed an affinity for English culture – even admitting to following the soap opera EastEnders.

His first work experience in the late 1990s required Gabriel to move to London – initially to Portobello. He worked at several hotels developing still further his English skills and he remembers his time in the capital fondly. Having gained experience both in catering and reception work, Gabriel returned to Spain to continue his political science studies at the University of Granada. Wanting to expand both his languages and life skills, he moved to Germany for two years where he developed his German and passed yet more exams.

A keen student, he was extremely fortunate to have spent time in Germany at the turn of the century just as the Cold War was ending. It was, he says, a life changing experience for him.

Back with his family in Los Barrios, it was time to go job hunting. Luckily for all concerned, he met the late (and very much missed) Sue Nellist who had introduced Sovereign to so many key staff over the years.

Gabriel remembers his job interview mainly because he was called immediately afterwards with an offer – before he had even crossed the border back into Spain. Thus in February 2005 he joined the team.

After little more than a year, he started helping out at, a Gibraltar registered company acquired by the Group in 2003. It combined yacht registration services with Sovereign’s corporate anstructures to own the vessels. Insurance was a natural addition when it too was added to Sovereign’s range of services a little later.

The initial portfolio was mainly local but it has developed under Gabriel’s leadership to the present position where a fleet of more than a hundred yachts are now under full management. Gabriel points out that the company’s revenue is split more or less into equal components being pure yacht registration (of which many hundreds have been completed) and the far more lucrative yacht management work.

Gabriel has built up unparalleled links with yacht registries around the world most of them being “Red Ensign states” – UK, Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territiories. However Sovereign’s clients may also register yachts in several independent jurisdictions worldwide including Cyprus, Malta and the Marshall Islands.

Known today as Sovereign Marine Services, Gabriel’s team includes two further full time Gibraltar-based colleagues working with other group offices especially in Asia and the Middle East. Gabriel mentions PRO Partner Group (PPG) as a good example of being able to combine joint expertise leading to far better outcomes for clients.

Gabriel tells us that Sovereign Marine Services’ work is becoming ever more technical involving factors such as payroll, the import / export of yachts and complex VAT issues.

Gabriel is excited to now be expanding his role to include Business Development Director for Sovereign Trust Gibraltar, which will see him increase his sales capacity and oversee the large team based on Main Street, in addition to his duties with Sovereign Marine. He relishes the new challenge, citing it as a great career development opportunity, having worked so closely with the Trust team since he started working at Sovereign.

Outside work, Gabriel is a devoted family man with two children. Cookery is his passion and in this area, he says, he is in charge at home. He even catered for no less than sixty guests at his recent wedding to his long-term partner, Raquel.

Always fantatical about sport, Gabriel continues to cycle to work daily and he remains a keen “padel” player. A passionate music fan, he is an accomplished guitarist and has played several times at Sovereign conferences.

Gabriel looks forward to developing still further Sovereign’s expertise in the field together with his colleagues from around the world.

Thank you for your time and Happy Sailing in 2024.

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