It can’t be easy taking over from one of the most well-known and respected characters in B.C.’s maritime industry, but that’s exactly what Joe O’Rourke did. In replacing Malcolm Barker as Vice President and General Manager, Victoria Shipyards, Joe considers himself “lucky” to have inherited a very good team with a strong and efficient operation that has a reputation for high quality. As Joe notes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Having said that, the departure of a key figure will have an impact on any company, and indeed, any industry. Joe’s strong skill set and experience, coupled with a personable, professional approach to business, is proving to be a successful combination in propelling Victoria Shipyards through this exciting time for B.C.’s ship repair industry.
BCSN: Tell us about the career path that brought you here.
JO: I came from a family of Certified Professional Accountants and accounting professors, so naturally I studied and became a CPA for the first six or seven years of my business career. When I decided that I wanted to do something different, I ended up getting a position as a cost accounting manager for a ship repair company called Northwest Marine Shipyard in Portland in 1987. I fell in love with the industry right then and there.
Photo above: Joe O'Rourke (credit: Dave Roels).
I worked my way up to Vice President of Finance and, by 1994, took over as the General Manager of a shipyard in Los Angeles, and then held successive senior executive positions up until I left in 2005. Northwest Marine went through a number of acquisitions and, by the time I left, it was absorbed by BAE Ship Systems, now a large U.S. company focused on United States Navy repair and modernization.
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