After 14 years in the Australian marine industry Graham Shelley-Jones is bidding his colleagues and contacts farewell.
Boat show stalwart Graham at SIBS
Shelley-Jones was the senior Trade Development Manager with the British Consulate General in Sydney when he was introduced to the sector in 1999. He never imagined he would become as involved with the marine industry as he did.
'I received a crash course in marine, courtesy of the British Government, who despatched me to Rosyth Naval Base in Scotland, beginning a tour of marine facilities and manufacturers throughout the north of Britain, and then down to Portsmouth for a continuation. The tour included insights into everything from leading-edge defence technologies through to genetic tagging of fish stocks.
'Later I was privileged to witness the construction of some of the legendary Marques in luxury shipbuilding, such as Princess and Sunseeker, and the manufacturing plants of BAE Systems Marine, FBM Babcock and Lewmar.
Since 2009 he has been in charge of marketing at Walcon Marine Australia, after being invited on board by Walcon Chairman, Robin Walters. Walcon Marine designs, manufactures and installs marinas around Australia, and operates a Hire Division that builds the world’s largest temporary marina in Cockle Bay each year for the BIA of NSW, and the Sydney International Boat Show. Shelley-Jones has completed the task of managing major company restructuring at Walcon Marine Australia and now resumes full-time operation of his business consultancy, Antipodean Business Advantage.
'I have been extremely fortunate to have been associated with the marine sector in Australia and the UK', he said. 'I am by no means an ’old salt’ but rather someone who drifted into the sector when I was tasked by British Trade International with monitoring the Australian industry and its players, and putting like-minded Ozzies and Pommies together in commercial ventures.
'Working with Walcon Marine enabled me to extend my time with the industry and to experience the grass root activities associated with Australian Boat Shows.'
As the Trade Development Manager with the British Consulate General, Shelley-Jones promoted Australian industry through high level activities involving the British High Commission. He organised marine tours of inspection by two High Commissioners and including visits to the Sydney International Boat Show, hosted by Domenic Genua.
Because of the commercial-in-confidence nature of his brief he has been privy to many areas of the industry and including Ministry of Defence in the UK. In Australia he was able to facilitate introductions between local marine companies and members of the British Marine Federation, who were looking for partners and representatives in the Asia-Pacific region.
Shelley-Jones says that of all the industries that he has been connected with it is the marine industry which stands out.
'Whenever I see the way in which groups such as the BIAA, AIMEX and Superyacht Australia pull together in pursuit of common goals I wonder why other industries are not able to emulate the same approach. Is it the influence of the sea and its natural challenges that form such a mutual bond, even between competitors?
He went on to mention the way that industry events and exhibitions see everyone supporting the other.
'I have designed and managed displays for the BMF and Walcon Marine, at Sanctuary Cove and Sydney boat shows, as well as related events around Australia, and I never cease to be impressed by the camaraderie displayed by everyone involved.'
He considers his time with the industry as a highlight of his career and one which added to his enjoyment of the business development ‘game’.
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