How Did You Get There? An Interview with Scott Willey

By Kinexus on 30 November 2017
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Managing Director at Atlantic & Peninsula Australia, Scott Willey has had a diverse career and is focused on delivering high quality outcomes.

We chat to Scott about how he got to where he is today, what has contributed to his success and what advice he has for managing a career in Defence Industry.

Tell us a bit about what you’re responsible for as Managing Director A&P Australia:

Atlantic & Peninsula Australia has been the In-Service Support Contractor for HMAS Choules since July 2015. This contract was the first of its kind in Australia and A&P Australia is responsible for managing above and below the line responsibilities for Maintenance, Engineering, and Supply support. A&P Australia also delivers a wide range of asset management services which are fundamental to capability assurance and the optimisation of HMAS Choules.

As managing director, I am responsible for the delivery of all A&P Australia’s services, business activities and management. This includes the safety and wellbeing of our staff, our customers, sub-contractors and stakeholders.

I am delighted to report that A&P Australia has performed extremely well to date under the In-Service Support Contract (ISSC) and HMAS Choules continues to be a fantastic and reliable capability for the Royal Australian Navy.

Our next challenge is to consolidate our processes and future proof our platform which will enable us to deliver high quality value for money outcomes on an ongoing basis. We are also looking forward to replicating the success with the HMAS Choules contract and expanding our reach with current and future potential customers in the region.

Tell us about how you got to where you are today.

Prior to arriving in Australia, I was a senior project manager for A&P Group at its Falmouth facility in the UK.  In this role, I was responsible for the major refit of RFA Mounts Bay, one of Choules three sister vessels.

I was with A&P Falmouth for six years with fifty per cent of this time spent managing major refits and maintenance periods for the LSD(A) Bay Class – which included Largs Bay (now HMAS Choules). Over this time, I had significant exposure to most systems, upgrades, and repairs which have been a great benefit to my transition to A&P Australia and the through life support for Choules.

For the rest of my time at A&P Falmouth, I was also responsible for keeping our commercial ship owners happy. My time was spent running around drydocks, managing ship repair across a variety of vessels and customers, all under tight commercial and time restraints to get ships afloat and back to work as quickly as possible.

Prior to joining A&P, I completed a BEng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering. I grew up by the coast sailing and surfing. I knew that I always wanted to live by the sea so ship repair seemed like a good way to achieve this.

What was your very first job?

My first job was washing cars at the Roundabout Garage in Pembrokeshire, Wales, which is where I grew up. I was only 13 or 14 but the mechanics let me help them strip engines and I started doing some basic service jobs on my own like changing oil and filters. I remember enjoying the job a lot.

What attracted you to your to current role in Ship Repair?

Sydney definitely has its appeal, especially with the sun, sea and beaches!

Whilst working at A&P Falmouth, I had some awareness of the operation of A&P’s sister company in Sydney and its contract to provide in-service support to Choules. Given my experience with the Bay Class, I felt I could really contribute and support in the development of what is already a really great team, and the business as a whole.

What do you think is the key to being a good Project Manager?

I have some basic rules which I try to stick to!

“Push, push, push and keep on pushing!” – Everything and everyone all the time!

Understand the risks and always have a Plan B, and probably C,D,E and F, all the way to Z, especially in ship repair.

Never drop the ball on safety, quality or your budget.

Build and maintain good relationships, you cannot succeed on your own, employees, customers, suppliers all need to be looked after.

And finally, “Just keep pushing!”

What do you think are the biggest challenges faced by people working in ship repair within Australia?

On the east coast, generally I think it could be the limited options across the board, not just on a where do I take my ship, defence procurement, or repair task, but also down to third and fourth tier supplier resources, and skills. The defence maritime investment and continuous shipbuilding programmes are going to drive this gap further, and there is already an observable effect on the employment market.

What is the most rewarding part of your job; what makes it all worthwhile?

The autonomy to shape the business and work with and develop a really great team. At this stage in the business there seems to be the opportunity for constant development and improvement.

We are only a small team but we are able to make a real impact. It is great to see the results, the improvements and receive good feedback from the customer, employees and suppliers at the end of a project. We have had some challenging times, such as when cyclone Debbie hit Queensland mid maintenance period and Choules was tasked to assist by Government on a Saturday morning. We and our suppliers worked hard through the weekend and Choules sailed as requested first thing on Monday morning. It was a great success for Navy, A&P, and the ship’s company.

And when I am not working – there is always the sun, sea and beaches!

What would be one piece of advice you could offer someone looking to take a similar career path?

Know your industry, get your hands dirty and get involved. Hands on experience and a good technical understanding are paramount to success.

Scott Willey
Managing Director
Atlantic & Peninsula Australia

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