Dave McConnell

Professional Development Case Study    

Name: Dave McConnell

Age: 60

Job Title: Sales & Marketing Executive

Company: Cammell Laird

Professional Body (Member of): RINA

Professional Qualifications: BSc

always remember the end user of your outputs!

Brief Summary of education, career and professional progression

Whilst studying at The University of Glasgow for his BSc in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering, David was an undergraduate apprentice with Scott Lithgow Shipbuilders Ltd on the Lower Clyde and worked with them for 3 years after graduating.

David then joined Lloyd’s Register of Shipping in London as a Plan Approval surveyor for oil, chemical and gas tankers.

A move to Glasgow saw David join YARD Ltd., a firm of Marine Engineering Consultants and became heavily involved in the nuclear safety case for the overside mechanical and electrical services for the new facilities at the Faslane nuclear submarine base on The Clyde.

David than took responsibility for managing the company’s offices in Chippenham which relocated to Filton while YARD became a part of BAESeMA and then eventually integrated into BAE Systems.

David was Naval Support Director in the newly formed BAE Systems for 5 years before being head hunted by Rolls-Royce as their Naval Programmes Director in which role he was responsible, inter alia for the supply of all RR equipment to the new aircraft carriers.

In March 2013 David took early retirement from RR and joined Cammell Laird on a part time basis with a role to strengthen Cammell Laird’s profile across the defence community.

Key projects undertaken throughout career

Immediately after graduating I was tasked with undertaking the launching calculations for a semi submersible – this enabled me to work with a range of trades and appreciate the skills in the shipyard. It also very quickly made me realise the implications of attention to detail in design and the importance of communication and understanding risk and how to mitigate it. The launch was a complete success!


Nuclear safety case for Faslane – this project contained all the ingredients for managing a business – customer relationships, bidding for and then implementing technical tasks, invoicing and chasing payments. In the middle of all this was the recognition of the role played by safety authorities and the importance of understanding how the safety case requirements play a huge part in getting designs correct at the outset. The role included managing and directing a group of highly specialised engineers and working out how best to manage people with significantly higher technical qualifications.


Delivery of RR’s equipment to the QEC project – included in my portfolio of responsibilities was to ensure that all the equipment RR were contracted to deliver was delivered to the requisite quality, time and cost requirements. The role was in many ways similar to that in 2 above but the deliverables this time were large complex and sophisticated items of equipment – the experience of 2 above made this role much easier for me


Winning the Polar Research Ship – being part of the team that bid for and ultimately won the contract to design and build a new polar research ship for NERC was a hugely profound moment for me as it felt my career had gone full circle back to ship building.

What advantages do you feel your career path gave you?

I think the diversity of the roles I have enjoyed has helped to get a fuller understanding of the industry and hence you develop an appreciation of how your role fits in to a bigger picture. This can help decision making at both a personal level and at a corporate level.

Advice for future engineers or those interested in the industry

The industry offers immeasurable opportunities across a very wide range of disciplines and so it is important to work out in which areas you feel you can contribute most.

Whether you want to follow a specialist career path or a management career path give both a go and see how you feel. Whatever task or role you are given, undertake it with enthusiasm and professionalism and go out of your way to learn as much about the task as possible. Never underestimate the skills and knowledge of the people around you and always show empathy.

Build a network of colleagues and always remember the end user of your outputs!