John’s lifetime of service at P&O

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In this day and age many people swap jobs every couple of years but incredibly one Galloway man has worked at the same place for over 40 years.

John McColm, Customer Operations Manager at the Cairnryan Port for P&O Ferries started work at Cairnryan in March 1975 and has been there ever since.

He has worked as a freight clerk and also worked in a number of different roles before becoming Deputy Port Manager in 1996.

He then moved to the commercial side of the business as Customer Service Manager in 1999 and to Freight Manager in 2005 before returning to an operations role in 2013 as Customer Operations Manager.

John’s role involves overseeing the port operations process at Cairnryan with particular emphases on maintaining and developing customer service levels.

John, who is aged 58, grew up in Cairnryan village but has lived in Stranraer for most of his life. He is married to Fiona who works locally as a Classroom Assistant adn they have three daughters and four grandchildren.

John said: “I grew up in Cairnryan where I went to school for the initial few years of my primary education and completed the next four years in Castle Kennedy.

“I then completed five years at Stranraer Academy achieving eight O-Grade passes and three Highers. When not at school I spent time living and working on my uncle’s farm.

“Like many youngsters I had no clear ambition and on leaving school took a handyman’s job at Cairnryan caravan site.  After a few months, I realised this had little in the way of career prospects and I applied to ASN (Atlantic Steam Navigation Company), the former company that operated the Cairnryan to Larne route that subsequently became P&O Ferries in 1987.

“I was duly offered a job and apart from an 18 month break I have been with P&O Ferries ever since. 

“Throughout the years, I have gained experience in all areas of the business and have become more and more passionate in my role and responsibilities within P&O Ferries.

“I take great pride in the management of our operations as we work endlessly to ensure a smooth and seamless experience for our customers.

“Just recently, we initiated the ‘ICE’ project – Improving Customer Experience’ – with the aim to make the whole experience as slick as possible for our customers.

“I also love the variety of the job. With up to seven sailings a day between Cairnryan and Larne and a journey time of just two hours, each and every day is extremely busy and each sailing is always different so we’re never bored here at the Cairnryan port.”

Asked what is the secret behind maintaining a long career within the same company, John said: “I don’t think there is any magic formula but I have been fortunate to work in an interesting and varied business which presents a diverse and challenging environment.” 

During his long career there have been some funny moments.

John recalled one story: “I recall a freight driver who was a notoriously sound sleeper and who sailed from Cairnryan one morning and could not be awakened when the ship got to Larne. 

“When the ship returned to Cairnryan he somehow woke up himself, drove his vehicle off the ship and out of the port. 

“He got to Glenluce before he realised he was on the wrong side of the Irish Sea and returned to the port to find out how this had happened! 

“He received the explanation and sheepishly checked-in again for the next sailing, presumably wondering how on earth he was going to explain this to his boss!

Asked if he had any regrets, John added: “I think most people will be able to look back on their careers and consider opportunities in their lives when they could have done things differently.

“However, what is ahead of us is more important than what is behind us and every new day provides a new opportunity. 

“Embrace change and try to achieve a good work/life balance.”