Meet the Team
Ramsay Muirhead, Director of Port Infrastructure and Planning
After graduating with a civil engineering degree from Abertay University, I held positions across the UK and Australia, as well as spending time working in Europe, Africa and South-East Asia, before I returned to Scotland and joined CMAL as a civil engineer in 2009.
A lot has changed since then. For example, the team was a lot smaller; we had just two engineers to look after the entire harbour network. My role within the organisation has also developed. Following my spell as a civil engineer, I progressed to head of engineering in 2012 and to my current position as director of port infrastructure and planning seven years later. My experience in engineering means I have a thorough understanding of all our projects, however, my new role has required me to develop my knowledge of harbour operations and board responsibilities, which I’m still working on with the support of a great team.
Day in the life: Like everyone, the last year has involved a lot of Microsoft Teams meetings from my dining room. In fact, I think I now qualify as a pro. When I’m not negotiating meeting technology, I’m responsible for managing the harbour operating agreement with CalMac, making sure our harbours are safe, fit-for-purpose and compliant with relevant regulations. I’ve enjoyed taking more of a leadership role in the department, as opposed to day-to-day management of works & projects. A large part of my role involves working with the team to identify the next projects needed to keep our harbour infrastructure safe and operational, and then developing the strategy to deliver them.
I joined CMAL in 2013 as its first-ever buildings and properties manager. CMAL was a smaller operation at the time, so my role began with taking stock of all our properties by travelling the entire network to inspect all our buildings. This allowed me to put together a plan for maintenance and new investment. As an experienced chartered surveyor who has worked across the UK and in Germany, I relished the opportunity to propose and tailor my own systems and operations – although it did come with its challenges.
Day in the life: Unlike some other members of the CMAL team who are primarily project-based, I work across our whole network every day. On a day-to-day basis, I’m responsible for managing relationships with landlords and tenants, maintaining our operational buildings and planning upgrades or construction work at our sites. Being reactive is also a huge part of my job, and my to-do list can often be torn up should any critical defect situations arise. CMAL now also employs a chartered building surveyor and as a team of two, we are able to deliver more projects and network improvements than ever before.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the way I work. Keeping buildings operational and managing essential construction projects, whilst protecting the safety of the team, suppliers and island communities has been demanding. Many of our tenants are small, local businesses whose reliance on tourism and ferry trade has been decimated over the last year. I have been trying to work with them to assist wherever CMAL can through these unprecedented times.
But the hardest job of all has to be home-schooling my two young boys during the pandemic. It’s hard work juggling their needs with the demands of the job, but I’m grateful to have the flexibility I need to make it all work.