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Business

Robert J Cooper signs off as H&W boss after 44 years at shipyard

Robert J Cooper congratulates Jonathan Guest on succeeding him into the CEO seat at Harland & Wolff

ROBERT Cooper has stepped down as chief executive of Harland & Wolff Group after a 44-year career at the shipyard, where he has been replaced by Jonathan Guest.

He began his career at H&W as an accountant in 1974 and rose through its ranks during a time of great transition including the privatisation of the company and its purchase by Norwegian stock exchange listed Fred Olsen Energy. He had been CEO since February 2003.

His successor, who assumed the new role on May 1, had been director of business development and improvement for H&W Heavy Industries, having joined the firm four years ago from interior fit-out specialist MJM Group.

Mr Cooper has been acknowledged as man who returned H&W to profit through a successful strategy of diversification leading the firm into the renewable energy sector, design engineering and the growth of the ship repair and conversion business.

And he says of his successor: “Jonathan Guest has been a major asset for us and the company is in very good hands.

"The role of CEO of Harland & Wolff comes with huge responsibilities which go beyond our immediate existence as a successful and innovative engineering firm. The brand is known throughout the world and I know he will provide excellent leadership for the team at Harland & Wolff, which is now in its 158th year.”

Jonathan has worked for 23 years as a professional engineer and executive director in a range of industries including marine, manufacturing, automotive, engineering and construction, and in 2011 won the Institute of Directors' coveted “Global Director of the Year” award.

He says he is proud to take on the task, adding: “I have been involved with Harland & Wolff from the earliest stages of my career and I cannot express how delighted I am to take charge of this magnificent company.

"Robert J Cooper has left a legacy of stability, innovative spirit and a can-do approach which has benefited us hugely. He took some very tough decisions during his career to assure the continuing survival and eventual success of the company and I intend to continue this good work.”

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