13 Mar A former apprentice now stands at the helm of shipbuilding on the River Clyde
BAE chief Iain Stevenson followed his dad into the industry.. and is delighted order book has secured its future on the Clyde.
Iain Stevenson, 48, became arguably the most influential figure in the historic Scots business when he was appointed managing director of naval ships at global weapons giant BAE in 2016.
But unlike many international business leaders, he is not a privately educated Oxbridge graduate running his company from a corner office in London.
The married dad-of-two grew up in Paisley where he attended Camperhill High School before following his own father into an apprenticeship on the Clyde, where his first job was as a dockside engineer.
And after working his way up through the ranks, Iain is now determined to secure the industry that has supported two generations of his family for “hundreds of years to come”.
He said: “My father was a shipwright and he served his apprenticeship in Govan at Stephens ship repair in Linthouse.
“I guess shipbuilding is in the blood. One of my first memories is being taken into the yards as a child by my dad to see HMS Boxer being launched from Scotstoun in June 1981.
“My father took me into the drawing office and I got to see the guys who were designing it and it wasn’t CAD systems like today – it was all pencil drawings.
“Today the shipyards are a very different place. There is much more health and safety and that sort of thing, which is good.
“This is an industry which is dear to me and my goal is to leave a great legacy for shipbuilding in Glasgow.
“I am a local boy, I grew up around the yards, so I have a burning ambition that shipbuilding on the Clyde will be here for hundreds of years to come.”
BAE have secured work in Govan and Scotstoun until the 2030s thanks to a £3.7billion contract to manufacture eight new Type 26 frigates for the Royal Navy.
The contract will ensure that vital shipbuilding skills are kept alive and passed on to younger generations.
Iain added: “We have a commitment to build eight type-26s on the Clyde and that takes us out to 2035, and I have never hear of that before in my 30 years of shipbuilding experience.
“Having that forward forecast on the programme is just fantastic.
“The continuity gives us stability and so as we go through the ships we are building, we just keep getting better and better.”
Iain revealed the expertise being developed on the Clyde could soon be transferred to projects further afield.
He added: “Both Canada and Australia are looking to shipbuilding as an industrial capability.
“It’s about getting warships into service but it is also an employment prospect. They are looking at the Type 26 as the sort of ship they are interested in buying.
“The ships wouldn’t be built here but we would see a lot of knowledge transfer and some UK people going over to Australia and Canada.”
And while shipbuilding was once a male-dominated industry, Iain is determined to see as many women as possible get involved.
He added: “It is great to see the apprentices and the graduates coming into the industry and it is also great to see women coming into the industry.
“We are starting to attract far more women into the apprentice programme – 25 per cent of our apprentices and 50 per cent of our graduates are women.
“I want to encourage more women into engineering and industry. Diversity and inclusion is an essential part of what we do in terms of the gender as well as ethnicity, culture and race.”