Brian Thomson: 100 days at the Helm

Brian Thomson proudly took up the position of Managing Director of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company on this year’s Manx National Day, Monday 5th July.

A maritime leader with a wealth of experience and a background in naval architecture and marine engineering, Brian began his professional career with the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency. He relocated to the Isle of Man seven years ago to work as a Surveyor for the Isle of Man Ship Registry and, in 2019, was promoted to Principal Surveyor.  

On his 100th day in the Steam Packet Company office, we felt it was the ideal time to catch up with Brian to find out how he was enjoying his role at the helm of the Company.

Headshot of Managing Director of Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Brian Thomson

How would you describe your first 100 days as Managing Director?

They have been fantastic – busy, exciting, informative. I always said that in my first few months as Managing Director, I was keen to get into the ribs of all areas of the Company and really get to know the people, the business and the way the different departments work together.  

It is no exaggeration to say that I experience something new every day and I’m really enjoying the fast-paced, dynamic nature that this role naturally shapes. There’s no doubt that I have always recognised the significance of the Company, but seeing first-hand what it means to staff and the wider Manx community is truly humbling, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to lead the Company into the future and beyond.

What have been your highlights?

Getting to know the team of brilliant individuals that make up the Steam Packet Company, both on a professional and personal level, has been a personal highlight. I’d like to say I’m a people person and being able to lead such an experienced and accomplished set of individuals, who work as one to ensure the smooth operation of the Isle of Man’s lifeline day-in day-out, is an honour.

I recently had the pleasure of overseeing the promotion of Chief Officer Scott Kaniewski to Captain on the Ben-my-Chree. It’s wonderful to see this progression from within the Company and I hope in my role I can inspire more people to progress in their careers and achieve excellence in the industry.

In August, we reached an important milestone with the commencement of our new vessel Manxman’s construction. With a background in naval architecture, I have considerable experience in this area and it’s great to come on board at such a crucial time in its development and oversee the smooth running of the project. It is a truly exciting time to join the Company.

What challenges have you faced?

The obvious ongoing challenge is the pandemic. When I joined in early July, the Manx Borders had barely been open to visitors a week following 16 months of closure, and that was still with many restrictions in place. Bookings have certainly picked up over the summer as restrictions have eased, but there is still a long way to go. As the Isle of Man’s only ferry operator we have an important responsibility to promote the Island’s tourism industry and encourage people to visit “our beautiful Island” and experience the very best of Manx, which is of course a challenge in itself in the current climate. COVID-19 hit the Company hard and recovery is ongoing, but my team and I are prepared for the difficulties that lie ahead.

What is your vision for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company?

My main aspiration is to restore pride in the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company by enhancing our lifeline service, striving to improve in every area we can and giving the people of the Isle of Man a Company they can be proud of.

With a history dating back more than 190 years, the Company is truly intertwined into the Manx community. From the people that sail on our crossings and the essential food and goods we transport to the Island daily to the myriad of good causes and individuals that we support each year, I am eager to build upon these solid foundations and continue to evolve the Company.

With such a busy work life, how do you relax in your spare time?

I have always had a passion for music and enjoy making time for this outside of work. I like working with different genres of music which I release under the name Raumstadt. Aside from music, my spare time is spent with my family exploring the lovely Isle of Man – somewhere we feel lucky to call home.

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