What's life like as Head of Technical Services?

Peter Gould has been our Head of Technical Services for almost 8 years, and has been with us through a range of changes and new initiatives. Peter will soon be hanging up his hard hat to start retirement, and we’re very sad to see him go.

It does mean, on the other hand, that we need to get busy trying to find someone to fill Peter’s shoes! We didn’t think there was anyone more fitting to help us search for the right candidate than Peter himself, so we’ve sat down with him to ask a couple of questions about his time with us at Red Funnel and what to expect in the role.

Hi Peter, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m the Head of Technical Services here at Red Funnel and I joined the company in 2008.
In regards to my career, I started off as an Engineer cadet with Shell tankers deep sea. I then began working on cross channel ferries. I was a Third Engineer and I worked my way up to Chief Engineer. After this, I went ashore into the office and became part of the Fleet Management team. I went in initially as a Technical Manager but then branched out to become a Health and Safety Officer. My plan was always to return to the ships, but I started to take on environmental responsibilities in my role and training was later added too. 
After I was made redundant from P&O, I started work as a Port Manager for LD Lines in Portsmouth. I then returned to Technical Management responsible for a Hi-Speed running between the Channel Islands and St. Malo.

How did you become the Head of Technical Services?
During the week, I would fly over to Jersey and live there running the boat. I wasn’t really enjoying it though as I was away from home too much. I heard of a position for a Technical Manager at Red Funnel, and I thought that would suit me better as I knew I could be home for dinner every night and the furthest I’d have to travel to would be the Isle of Wight. 
I got the job because of my experience in a wide range of roles related to vessels including Ship Management and Health and Safety, and because of my knowledge of ships and their equipment.

Is that the kind of experience you’re still looking for in this role?
Certainly what we’re looking for is someone with a marine engineering background, probably with a Chief Engineer Certificate of Competency. Also they’re likely to have experience in ship management, as a Superintendent or Technical Manager.

And what does a standard day look like for you?
It’s very varied, it depends where you’re needed at the time. You can be in the office doing paperwork or on the vessels. I often go down to the morning car ferry while they are bunkering and speak to the Chief Engineer to find out how they’re doing. Then I may pop over to Hi-Speed mechanics and make sure everything’s alright there. I often take the vessels over to the Isle of Wight as well. 
In my role, we don’t just look after the vessels; we are also responsible for the shore infrastructure. This includes all the linkspans, pontoons and the quays. When I originally started, one of the areas emphasised to me was the work that needed doing on the shore infrastructure, especially both the East and West Cowes walkways.  Together with the High Speed Superintendent we started working on them over the next couple of years. 
There’s also work to be done on the vessels too, particularly the ballast tanks. It’s important that we maintain the structural integrity of the ships to ensure they’re safe and in good working order, as well as the customer facing aspects. It really can be anything.

What are you responsible for in your role?
All the infrastructure shore side, basically the sea facing stuff. Anywhere a ship ties up we are responsible for it. I also supervise the maintenance on the raptors, including the refits. I work with the Senior Chiefs to work out refit programmes and what work is required. I also supervise the refits and the dry docks. We take all 3 of our ferries to Falmouth each year for inspection of the underwater bits.

What’s your favourite part of the job?
I enjoy the different challenges that we have to face as a team. I like problem solving and looking at how we can consistently improve things. I also enjoy taking the ferries for survey.
The best part of my job though is the people. I love working with and helping others. I feel that the Engineers in the team look to me for advice and guidance in what they do and I like being able to offer that support. I always encourage team members to continue developing themselves by getting their qualifications and Certificates of Competency. I love that we have a working culture here at Red Funnel which also encourages this. We are very keen on developing employees.

What might candidates need to consider about themselves before they apply?
Candidates need to certainly be competent Engineers and Ship Managers. They need to have a strong knowledge of all parts of the ship, including the safety gear, structure and machinery. It’s also important to have a good understanding of maritime legislation.
They will need to consider their leadership styles. Management at Red Funnel isn’t conventional ship management. Red Funnel practices a very proactive leadership approach, and they’re always looking for innovative individuals who can provide new ideas and ways to constantly improve.
The successful candidate will need to be able to make decisions quickly, and must be a great communicator as they will definitely need to be able to engage with all people across the business. Prioritisation is also extremely important. There is a balance between safety and the operation. Red Funnel are extremely customer focused and so they must also expect to come into an environment that’s extremely passionate about their customer service.

And why do you think someone would want to work with us?
For the same reasons I did. A huge one for me was the work life balance. I love being able to go home every night and wake up in my bed every morning. I also get to do the job I love so it’s a win-win situation for me. Red Funnel has a great family feel to it, with some fantastic benefits.
I love the people here. I have really enjoyed my time with the people I’ve met and worked with.
In ship management, you can spend your life living out of a suitcase, travelling for months at a time. Here, you have a close team and the ship always comes to you, you don’t have to go to the ship. The role is ideally suited to perhaps a family orientated person or someone with interests at home.