INTERVIEW: Retired board member Dr Peter Swift shares “My time with Ardmore…”

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Dr Peter Swift’s distinguished career in the maritime industry spans more than 50 years, and he has served as a director of Ardmore Shipping Company since its initial public offering in July 2013. Ardmore Shipping is extremely grateful to Peter for his tremendous contribution to the company over the years. Here, Peter shares his experiences and memories over the past seven years.

What experiences led you to become a member of the Ardmore Shipping Company board?

A childhood-long interest in ships resulted in me studying Naval Architecture at Durham University

and later an association with British Shipbuilders, which also gave the me opportunity to work in shipbuilding design offices in Sweden and the USA. After a Masters degree, I moved to Royal Dutch Shell as Group Naval Architect in the UK before managing Shell’s jv shipping company for the NW Shelf LNG Project in Australia. After 25 years with Shell, I had a brief stint as Director with a leading shipbroker, before being enticed to become the Managing Director of the International Independent Tanker Owners’ Association (INTERTANKO) for 10 years.

Tell us about how you joined the Ardmore Shipping Company (ASC) Board?

After INTERTANKO, I had several offers to join the Boards of different shipping companies.

However, I had high expectations in terms of company commitments to certain values which I deemed important. These included the quality of ships, the integrity, and the respect shown to their staff and crews. However, when approached by a respected contact from my time at INTERTANKO and then in discussions with CEO Tony Gurnee and former ASC Chairman Regg Jones, I needed little persuasion to join the ASC Board. Although small at that time, Ardmore Shipping had already established a good name in the chartering world and with its shipping peers, was clearly committed to the highest quality standards for its ships and operations, and had a clear focus on the importance of its people.

What is the most significant lesson learned from your time on the ASC Board?

Ideally, lesson learning should be a continuous process in life and it is difficult to identify a single most significant lesson during my time on the Board. Two reaffirmations, however, stand out. The first is the enormous importance of the company’s reputation, which has unmeasurable value until it is damaged. The second is respect for our fellow man, which when lost can have untold consequences.

What is your most memorable moment during your time with ASC?

One moment is difficult to identify, since all of the meetings and discussions with fellow board members, staff ashore and afloat were enjoyable. It was particularly rewarding to recognise we all shared a common cause to do the right thing while still striving to do even better. I also always appreciated the strategy reviews as we discussed operational leadership, recognising excellence, standards setting, and more; but all based on the core values of professionalism, integrity and respect, while actively managing the stewardship of capital, the environment and our seafarers.

What words of wisdom or experience would you like to pass onto a new board member starting out?

As an Independent Director, bring all your experience to the company and use the opportunities afforded as a third party to support, question and challenge. Be justly proud to be associated with Ardmore Shipping.

What have been the most significant changes in work culture you have observed during your time on the board?

The increased empowerment of all individuals within the company, including their involvement in Operational Performance improvement, has been most noteworthy. This empowerment, together with the clear leadership of the company’s management team has formed the basis for the achievement of a “One Team” culture and provides the bedrock for a successful future.