Ken Montgomery’s career progression at the age of 27 has been stellar, thanks to a life-long passion for marine engineering, personal dedication, and invaluable support from a mentor.
What is your current role?
I am Technical Superintendent with Northern Marine Management where I am responsible for the day-to-day technical management of one LNG steam vessel and one X-DF LNG tri-fuel vessel.
I manage the vessels’ technical and operational performance, and ensure they are operated safely, comply with all maritime legislation, particularly in respect of safety and the environment, as well as charter party T&Cs. This includes safety, environmental compliance, reliability, OPEX budgeting and management, planning, and budgeting dry dockings, repairs, and upgrades. I am also responsible for KPI implementation and monitoring, and act as the flag state and classification society contact point.
I’ve been working in Singapore for the past few months on an LNG upgrade and taking delivery of a newbuild in South Korea, and have recently returned to Glasgow, Scotland, where my offices are based.
What influenced your career choice?
My interest began in my early years watching my father make repairs to our sailing boat during a circumnavigation of the world.
As a teenager I spent my school vacations working in shipyards in Singapore, China, and Indonesia where I developed a passion for marine engineering.
How did you get to where you are now?
I have BEng Hons, MSc Marine Engineering and MSc Management degrees complemented by hands-on experience as a seagoing engineer holding a combined (Steam & Motor) COC. Learning and knowledge have given me a unique mix of engineering and commercial experience that enable me to make a difference when it comes to managing ships.
While working, I completed a distance learning MSc Marine Engineering degree with MLA College (validated by the University of Plymouth) in 2020, where I researched retro-fitting BOG reliquefication plants to LNG Carriers.
I recently attended an LNG carrier upgrade in Singapore as the project manager coordinating the retrofit of a Turbo Brayton reliquefication plant on a Dual Fuel Diesel Electric LNG Carrier, this in part possible because of my MSc.
What approach do you take in your work?
The world has undergone a dramatic shift into the digital age. Traditionally, vessel superintendents have been ex-seagoing engineers who come ashore to be trained by superintendents who were also ex sea-going. This approach has many important technical advantages but doesn’t normally introduce new management practices or commercial training that can add significant value to a ship-management company’s competitiveness.
The only constant in the marine industry is change, therefore it is crucial to have one eye on the future to adapt to change, but equally important to have one on the past to learn from it.
How have your studies prepared you?
Ship management is a dynamic industry in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving world that continually faces new challenges. To be a market leader, win profitable business and retain high standard clients, ship management companies need to employ managers who are commercially orientated, analytical, able to think critically, and make impactful decisions that will place them ahead of their competitors.
Who has helped your career?
When embarking on any complex project such as a master’s thesis, you really need the support of someone whose knowledge and experience will add value to your work.
I was extremely fortunate be mentored by the Rector of MLA College, Prof. John Chudley FIMarEST CEng. MLA College is a partner of the IMarEST, and a global e-learning provider.
With Northern Marine Management, I have been given the platform and trust to prove myself on exciting projects that are at the vanguard of industry innovation.
Best career advice?
Surround yourself with driven individuals who will help to bring out your full potential.
The IMarEST has extensive platforms/forums for discussion and idea sharing that have been immensely beneficial for linking me with like-minded industry professionals.
How do you maintain your career/work-life balance?
As a keen yacht sailor, I find time at sea under sail gives me the opportunity to reflect on who I am and where I am in my life and my career.
I take the responsibility for my career very seriously, but I do strike a balance between work and my social life to decompress and maintain my mental health.
For me, it is often hiking the Trossachs hills in Scotland or going out with friends.
You’re 27, what are your longer-term career ambitions?
My goal is to be a business leader where I can combine my technical and commercial expertise, learning and experience to manage a company’s strategic goals for growth.