Tony Graham

Professional Development Case Study  

Name: Tony Graham


Job Title: Director

Company: Bluewater Portfolio Ltd

Professional Body (Member of): FRINA

Professional Qualifications: MSc (UCL – Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering), BEng (Glasgow – Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering)

...........never stop learning.........

Brief Summary of education, career and professional progression

I retired from the Ministry of Defence in 2015 as Director Ships after a career spanning 34 years. I am currently the Chairman of UKNEST and a Director of Bluewater Portfolio Limited. I started as an apprentice in the Ministry of Defence in 1980 before being sponsored to University (BEng from Glasgow, MSc from UCL). On graduation, I joined the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors which entailed training in uniform and sea time on submarines, warships and auxiliaries. My career progressed through every grade/rank as I worked on and eventually led many notable procurement projects.  I retired as a Constructor Rear Admiral, the first since World War 2. During my career I gained a Master of Business Administration and became a graduate of the Major Project Leadership Academy (Oxford University). I also graduated from numerous leadership programmes such as the Acquisition Leaders Development Scheme, Public Sector Leaders Scheme, Common Purpose and Windsor Leadership Trust. That willingness to learn and a passion for my craft is what built a fulfilling career. That passion for serving our naval enterprise continues and it remains a great pleasure to be involved in UKNEST.

Key projects undertaken throughout career

The diversity of projects has been amazing from special forces boats, hovercraft, SWATH, floating docks, ice patrol ships, auxiliaries, warships, aircraft carriers and submarines. You remember different projects for different reasons, but I have a special fondness for TY2400 Submarines, HMS Scott (Survey), HMS Endurance (Ice Patrol), Wave Class (Tankers), Bay Class (Amphibious Shipping), Tide Class (Tankers) and Queen Elizabeth Class (Aircraft Carriers). I have a cherished photograph of the Red Arrows (hawk jet) and Concorde flying past RMS Queen Elizabeth- and I take pride in having flown/sailed in all of them during a MOD career full of wonderful surprises.


What advantages do you feel your career path gave you?

The Ministry of Defence was a great teaching organisation that never stopped investing in my potential. The Ministry of Defence is a large organisation offering lifelong career opportunities, a huge portfolio of projects and a committed workforce who share a passion for supporting the Royal Navy. Large organisations can be impersonal, but they can be a great place to learn about leading large scale projects and the dynamics/politics of bureaucracies. I never got bored and that meant I kept giving my best.

Advice for future engineers or those interested in the industry

It is vital that you gain a ‘passion’ for what you do. From ‘passion’ comes the hunger for knowledge, drive, personal resilience and innovation. This industry is bigger and more diversified than you could ever imagine. Whatever, your skills or interests there is probably something in our enterprise that will inspire you. Qualifications and work experience help open doors, but once inside impress with ‘passion’ and never stop learning.