Tell us about life at Smit Lamnalco.

I’ve been with Smit Lamnalco for just under six years now. I started off as the operations manager then transitioned to GM a couple of years ago. A lot of my work involves people management: client relationships, making sure the crew are all happy and ensuring service levels are met. It also involves making sure the crew and the boats are kept safe. It’s been an awesome experience for a simple sailor like myself, being exposed to running the Gladstone operation. Every day is a learning day and I enjoy every moment of it.

What do you consider the most significant part of your job?

The most memorable thing for me here is dealing with contract award law. It’s great thing being part of a team that is successful in the tender process and comes up with the contract. But I suppose the bigger thing for me is seeing my employees develop themselves. We’ve had a number of employees here in Gladstone who have been improving themselves, to their credit and sacrifice. My role has been to encourage them and support that kind of environment. In that respect, the most satisfying part of my role is being able to facilitate growth, offer guidance and mentoring and see employees reach their full potential.

Where did you find guidance when you came into the industry?

I’m the first in my family to join the maritime crew. I was very fortunate to have grown up in Gladstone, and to have been good friends with one of the late pilots here, Dudley Jacobs. He helped me get away to sea, get a cadetship with P&O Swire and enter this great industry. That’s probably one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about training and development of people; there were people around me who gave me the opportunity and networks to develop myself. If it wasn’t for the people I had when I was young, I wouldn’t be here in this role.

Where did that cadetship take you?

I did my pre-sea training in Tasmania, and the first ship I joined was the old Ariake in the Port of Auckland. I went to New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. After my cadetship I worked with Patrick Terminals in Brisbane, which was an eye-opener because that was during the Patrick Autostrad transition. The technology was amazing. And then I went back to sea. In 2015 I came back to Gladstone because I thought I’d better get a proper job. My first daughter was on the way, and I wanted a job where I could go home every day.

What do you enjoy most about Gladstone?

The thing I like most about Gladstone is the community. Sorry – that makes me sound like a politician. But Gladstone has got a great community; it’s big enough to have all the necessities, but it’s small enough that everyone knows everyone. There are always opportunities in Gladstone, professionally and socially. It’s great for families; there are heaps of sporting clubs and cultural clubs, and through the kind generosity of the industry here we’re afforded a lot of opportunities that other regional places don’t have. Gladstone is great for fishing and boating, and the temperature isn’t too bad either.

Where do you fit into Gladstone’s community culture?

I enjoy recreational boating. With my two young daughters, we like going out and exploring the various islands and reefs we have off Gladstone.

Do I go out as much as I’d like to?

Definitely not. There’s always a compromise between the girls’ activities – whether that’s ballet, gymnastics or swimming – and my work commitments.

Do you ever miss life as a seafarer?

I do miss going to sea, but I’ve been very fortunate with the return of cruise shipping. Recently I took the family on the Pacific Encounter. I was able to get a bit of sea wind and sea air in my veins, and the best thing was, I didn’t have to work. All I had to do was get on and have a good time with the family. I could just sit up by the bar and drink while departing or arriving into port and I didn’t have to do anything!

If you ended up on a different career path, where might you be now?

I always wanted to go away to sea. When I was young, I liked the idea of going to sea to work on ships and travel the world. It was a brilliant dream. But if I wasn’t going to sea, I suppose I would have studied to be an accountant and become a very boring bean counter.

What is the last new skill you learned?

The last skill I learned, this last year, is enterprise agreement negotiations. Two years of EA negotiations was a good self-learning experience. Being able to have the dedication and perseverance, and to have to come out the other end with an agreement that works on the employees’ and employer’s side as well.

This article appeared in the June 2023 edition of DCN Magazine