How I Work: David McGinley

When David McGinley travelled across the world’s oceans as a child to start a new life with his family in Australia, little did he know that the six-week journey would lead to a lifelong passion for ships.

For the now Managing Director of A&P Group, the largest ship repair and conversion company in the UK, and also Atlantic and Peninsula Marine Services (APMS) was so transfixed by his mode of transport that it prompted him to take to the seas himself.

He explained how at the age of nine his family went to start a new life in the Southern Hemisphere as part of the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme, where they stayed until he was 12 years old.

“I think the journey sparked my imagination and when I left school with one O Level I went straight into the Navy as a junior marine engineer,” he said.

“It was a great thing to do and a fantastic opportunity.”

It also set the scene for a lifelong career in maritime with Mr McGinley serving in the Navy for 20 years until in 1994 when, as a Warrant Officer, he swapped military life for a civilian one and started as a Project Manager for Turner Diesel, who gave him the opportunity to manage and build diesel power stations around the world.

Five years later he went into the shipyards joining Semple Cochrane in Scotland where he became Marine Division Director and then he joined Babcock International Group, where he had senior level roles in strategic development, business development and commercial port operations. He retired in 2016 after 14 years there but just three months later came an opportunity he could not resist – to become Managing Director of Birkenhead-headquartered A&P Group, also looking after the sites in Falmouth and Tyne.

“I was still quite young and it was an opportunity I could not refuse,” said Mr McGinley, who joined in January 2017. In July 2018 he was also appointed by its holding company board, Atlantic and Peninsula Marine Services Ltd, to the position of Managing Director, looking after APMS subsidiaries including its Australian business, Falmouth-based Marine Designs – which manufactures bespoke pontoons and offshore structures – and Falmouth Docks and Engineering Company.

The Edinburgh-born Scot is also a visiting professor at Stirling University in Scotland where he supports MBA students.

“It’s a way of putting something back, and it’s important to get across the message of innovation, drive, determination and hard work,” said Mr McGinley.

Indeed, having come from school with one O Level, Mr McGinley believes greatly in supporting students in forging successful careers and is an avid advocate of apprenticeships.

“I really believe in them and know a number of very senior people in the industry who have also come through as an apprentice, either through the MoD or civilian apprenticeship,” said Mr McGinley.

A&P has an apprenticeship scheme and currently has around 28 apprentices across the business including welders, electricians and platers but also, importantly, has white collar apprentices too.

“We are getting a good mix of boys and girls. They are very intelligent young people with real goals and aims,” said Mr McGinley. “Our industry has a considerable amount of high technology in it now, right at the work face, so it’s not just a question any more of just banging a hammer.”

A&P Group has enjoyed a strong start to 2019, with a number of commercial and defence projects underway across its four UK facilities.

In Falmouth, the team continues to deliver an array of defence and commercial projects. A&P Falmouth has completed the refit of the RFA Argus under A&P Group’s £239m Future In-Service Support (FISS) contract with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and is undertaking reactivation works to HMS Severn for BAE Systems.

Since the start of the year A&P Tyne’s team has carried out dockings for offshore support vessels Rever Sapphire and Rever Polaris and is also fabricating six pontoons for the Galloper Offshore Wind Farm which will be delivered this summer and is preparing for the load-out of completed sections of the Astute Class submarines for delivery to BAE Systems Maritime in Barrow-In-Furness.

“In Falmouth, it has been the busiest year ever in terms of commercial work and we have had a mix of vessels, with ferries, car carriers, offshore vessels and jack up rigs. There have also been a lot of returning customers, which is very positive for us.”

Mr McGinley said the company was also looking very hard at offshore wind and energy and, while it was a new sector, A&P was making “considerable strides” into the sector.

In terms of the Docks company, there has also been a great upturn in the number of cruise liners coming into Falmouth as tourists enjoy the nearby Cornish sights. “This has been terrific for both us at Falmouth and also the local region because of the spend they bring into the local economy.”

With A&P’s overall group head office in Birkenhead, Merseyside, Mr McGinley splits his time primarily between the North East and Falmouth and also visits the company’s Australian facilities in Garden Island, Sydney where they look after the maintenance and refit management of the Royal Australian Navy and Australia’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

He is also a Board Member of the Society of Maritime Industries, the trade association which promotes the industry into Government and other stakeholders, and he is a past President of the UK Shipbuilders and Ship Repairers’ Association.

So, what does he enjoy doing when he does get some spare time?

“I am a great rugby aficionado and I also love a game of golf,” he said. That’s how I love to unwind.