Friday 16th Nov, 2018

THE GRILL: Michael Harvey


What does your role entail?
I started with VRCA in mid-February and it’s proving to be an exciting, challenging role. I am coming to grips with it quickly and I’m fortunate to be backed by a dynamic team.

My role centres on ensuring the safe and efficient navigation of the Geelong, Hastings and Portland shipping channels. Geelong’s channel network is currently at a declared depth of 12.3 metres and we’re looking at a range of upgrade options involving depth and alignment that will ensure the next generation of larger vessels will have safe and easy access through the channels in the years to come.

I am also focusing strongly on Hastings, with VRCA taking over direct management of channels in that port from July 1. We are currently working through a detailed program to ensure the transition is smooth.

Where did you work previously?
Before starting at VRCA, I had concurrent roles as Port Waratah Coal Services chairman and chief operating officer at Rio Tinto Marine. I have spent most of my career in various roles with Rio Tinto, based in Australia and throughout Asia.

What are some career highlights?
Persuading a mining company board to invest $500 million in new ships. Rio Tinto’s board approved the major bulk carrier building program in the Philippines in 2010 – committing to eight 208,000 DWT bulk carriers.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
My father was a fighter pilot. I wanted to be one too when I was a child. It seemed like a pretty cool thing to be.

What was your first job?
Working in the quality control laboratory of a toilet paper manufacturer in Barrow-in-Furness, England. It was a six-month job and I lasted the full six months. The job taught me that there’s good toilet paper and not so good toilet paper and that still holds true today.

What are your hobbies?
Golf. I am a member and board director at Woodlands Golf Club in Mordialloc. I have a handicap of nine, which is not as good as the four I used to play off a few years ago. I’ve played golf on every continent in the world and have been fortunate enough to play on some of the world’s great golf courses. I have also met some of the most generous people in the world through the game of golf.

What’s your favourite cuisine/meal?
I love all sorts of food but, if pressed, I’d probably have to say Japanese food, especially sushi in Japan. I lived in Japan for four years and I just love the quality of the ingredients, presentation, range of flavours and sensory stimulus.

Who do you admire?
Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, for his ability to create a common vision, his outstanding leadership and his duty of care to those who explored Antarctica with him.

During his second major expedition, the ship Endurance got caught and crushed in pack ice, with the crew eventually reaching uninhabited Elephant Island in life boats. He and five crew sailed a whaler across almost 800 nautical miles of the most inhospitable seas in the world to South Georgia Island to get help, with three of them then traversing glaciers to reach a whaling station. They made three attempts to get back and rescue their stranded crew, made it on the third attempt, and not a single life was lost. Shackleton inspired people and was a true leader. I would love to find leaders like Shackleton around now.

What social issue do you feel strongly about?
I am concerned that we’re losing the concept of respect for one another, at all levels of society. There is too much of ‘me’ and not enough of ‘we’ and ‘us’. You see examples every day, whether you’re in your car or just walking down the street.

What’s your favourite place to visit?
Ireland. I have covered most of the coast of Ireland and Northern Ireland, from the Ring of Kerry to the Giant’s Causeway. Fabulous scenery, hospitable people, Guinness and some of the best golf courses in the world. Fantastic.

What book are you currently reading?
I read a lot and at the moment I am re-reading a book called South, a memoir of Ernest Shackleton’s final expedition to Antarctica and his bid to traverse Antarctica. It’s still as gripping as the first time I read it. 

If you or someone you know would like to be a future subject of The Grill, please email

From the print edition April 20, 2017

Send this to friend