Irish engineer John Parker’s ‘The View From The Bridge: An Industrial Journey’ unveiled
15 January 2019
Fellow of Engineers Ireland, chairman of construction group Laing O’Rourke and of Pennon, the UK Water and Waste-to-Energy company, the Co Down born Sir John Parker has just published his business opus, ‘The View From The Bridge: An Industrial Journey‘.
Parker, one of Britain’s most senior industrialists, has a wealth of experience in leading businesses – both in the diversity of companies he has run and the range of issues he has met – which is unparalleled in modern British industry. In his book, he recounts the milestones on his 50-year industrial journey and draws out the countless lessons he has learned in mastering the arts of business leadership.
Parker is a passionate advocate of harnessing the benefits of economic growth to improve quality of life, address society’s challenges, strengthen social cohesion and, critically, to provide the education and training that give young people real opportunity.
Among Royal Academy of Engineering’s youngest fellows
Elected to the Royal Academy of Engineering as one of its youngest fellows in 1983, Parker is a recipient of honorary doctorates from a number of universities in the UK and Ireland. He has been president of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects and president of the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers.
Born into a farming family in Northern Ireland, he studied naval architecture and mechanical egineering at the College of Technology and Queen’s University Belfast and joined the ship design team at Harland and Wolff where he progressed into senior management positions.
He was appointed managing director of shipbuilders Austin and Pickersgill in Sunderland in 1974 and, following the nationalisation of the shipbuilding industry, he joined the board of the British Shipbuilders Corporation, later becoming deputy chief executive. He returned to Harland and Wolff in the early 1980s as chairman and chief executive to lead a turnaround in the yard’s fortunes and transfer it into the private sector.
Parker joined Babcock International plc as CEO in 1993 – later becoming chairman as well – and again transformed the company. In 1997, he became a non-executive director of British Gas which led to his becoming chairman of the Lattice Group on its demerger from BG Group in 2000. Lattice merged with National Grid in 2002 and Parker became chairman of the combined company, National Grid Transco.
He has also held a host of non-executive directorships, including the Industrial Development Board of Northern Ireland, British Coal Corporation, GKN, BG and Brambles Industries.
Dealt at highest levels with every UK government since late 1970s
Parker has dealt at the highest level with every British government since the late 1970s, and chaired the Court of the Bank of England during the financial crisis. He was a member of the first UK prime minister’s Business Council and has led several inquiries for the British government, most recently in the fields of boardroom diversity and naval shipbuilding.
In his book, Parker analyses the corporate turnrounds, takeover battles, mergers and acquisitions that he has led. He lays out the principles and practices covering the highly topical issues of corporate governance and boardroom management.
He details his deep insight into Britain’s manufacturing and energy industries. And he explains his support for a modern industrial strategy to drive the country’s future economic growth amid the unprecedented challenge of Brexit.
Parker’s aim with this book is to inform and inspire both those who currently hold positions of leadership in Business and the many thousands more who will be the leaders tomorrow. It is a vivid account of his working lifetime, a masterful overview of the British industrial landscape and a supremely-informed and authoritative handbook of Business leadership.
Praise for ‘The View From The Bridge’
“What makes a good leader? John Parker’s story of life as chairman and a director of some of the world’s biggest companies is a handbook for business leaders.” Lord Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England
“This outstanding book gives readers a unique insight into Sir John’s remarkable career and enables them to download his unparalleled experience of industrial management and corporate governance.” Tom Enders, group CEO, Airbus
“This invaluable book is, at heart, a record of the contribution that an outstanding engineer can make to a nation’s economic well-being. Sir John recounts the achievements of his exceptional career, the innumerable insights that he has garnered and the purpose to which he has put them. So the book becomes a masterclass which will inspire engineers present and future.” Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering
“Sir John Parker [also has] a profound understanding of the world outside the boardroom – political, social, environmental – that is very rare among industrialists. That perspective, at once broad and deep, runs like a river through the pages of this remarkable book.” Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa
Sir John Parker’s CV
1942 Born 8 April in County Down, Northern Ireland. Educated at Newcastle Technical High School, County Down
1958 Joins Harland and Wolff as a student apprentice (Naval Architect)
1958-64 Naval Architecture and Mechanical Engineering studies College of Technology and Queen’s University, Belfast
1964 Joins ship design team at Harland and Wolf
1974 Appointed Managing Director of Austin and Pickersgill (Sunderland)
1978 Joins Board of British Shipbuilders Corporation, later becoming Deputy Chief Executive
1983 Elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering
1983 Returns to Harland and Wolff as Chairman and Chief Executive
1993 CEO of Babcock International (also Chairman 1994-2000)
1999 Chairman of Firth Rixson
2000-03 Deputy Chairman of P&O Princess Cruises
2000-02 Chairman of Lattice Group
2001 Knighted for services to the defence and shipbuilding industries
2002 Chairman of RMC Group (leads sale to Cernex in 2005)
2002-11 Chairman of National Grid
2004-09 Chairman of Court of the Bank of England
2005 Chairman of P&O – leads sale to DP World in 2006
2006-11 Chancellor of the University of Southampton
2007-09 Joint Chairman of Mondi
2008-09 Chair of BVT Joint Venture
2009 Chairman of Anglo American
2011 President of the Royal Academy of Engineering