Passion for the sea: Philippe Groulx
As part of our “Passion for the Sea” series, whose aim is to highlight the people and expertise behind the service as well as offer a little insight for those considering a career in the superyacht refit sector, we caught up with Philippe Groulx who manages the Technical Office in MB92 La Ciotat. After 6 years as an engineer on board a 40-metre ketch, he decided to pursue his interest in design and move back on shore and into the refit business.
What inspired you to forge a career in this industry?
I fell in love with sailing when I was 13 in Vancouver which was a fun playground for ducking in and around tankers with our lasers. My other great passion was building things and drawing so when I got the opportunity aged 15 to go and spend a year in Florence to further my artistic skills, I leapt at the occasion and discovered architecture. So, it was a pretty natural decision to choose naval engineering when it came to selecting a career path.
I did my beginnings in the marine industry as an apprentice with Marine Mechanics and basically grew my expertise from little outboards to large propulsion plants as the years went on and I moved up the ladder.
Following this, I wanted to travel so I managed to find a position on board a 40-metre ketch as an engineer. During the 6 years on board, I began to get more and more interested in the design side of engineering, so that led me to move back on shore and into the refit business.
What gets you up in the morning?
Several things! The challenge, the people, the place… Each day at MB92 represents a new exciting challenge and I learn something new every day. The shipyard is full of really interesting and diverse characters who willingly share their knowledge and insight so it’s almost like going to school! The colossal cranes and yachts against one of the most beautiful natural backdrops in France is also a very motivating sight each morning. This incredible industrial and natural heritage really is truly inspiring.
How would you define excellence?
Excellence is something that you permanently strive towards, but never quite reach.
We are a one-stop shop whose primary role is to anticipate any problems before they arise and provide solutions.
What do you think it takes to succeed in your position?
I think it’s essential to always keep an open mind and keep abreast of the latest innovations in the industry. It’s also important to be a good team player, particularly when surrounded by such colourful personalities. It’s not like running a team of mechanics! Self-confidence and dependability are also vital as these two characteristics ultimately help build trust, with both clients and with colleagues.
What advice would you have for those interested in starting their career in this sector?
Get good hands-on experience in a machine shop. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the marine industry, just so long as you get your hands dirty. You can go to school for 10 years but will never learn as much as through first-hand experience and learning from your colleagues.