Spring 2014

Andy Brunton MBE

Andy Brunton has been defence business development manager at Divex since late 2010, having previously worked for the company as an ISS Technician.

Andy, tell us a bit about your role within Divex (now part of JFD).

My work is varied, but on a day-to-day basis typical work includes reviewing potential client requirements with a view to offering solutions from our product range. This could see me briefing customers in the morning, and then diving with them in the afternoon! So I often work very closely with the customer, which I find rewarding.

Is there a stand-out project that you’re involved with at the moment?

Although I can’t reveal too much for security reasons, Divex is currently working alongside a partner organisation in the United States. This is in support of ongoing and developing opportunities within the US market and is both challenging and rewarding.

So having been with the company now for a few years, looking back was it an easy choice for you to join Divex? What was your role before you joined?

I knew Glyn Gilbert, general manager, defence and ISS at Divex, from my time working with him on the development of kit for the Royal Navy, for which I worked for 31 years. It was Glyn that first spoke to me about joining Divex, and naturally I was intrigued – and as the Divex Portsmouth office is a mere 11 miles from my home on Hayling Island, it certainly seemed like an offer worth considering! So yes, it was quite an easy decision for me. Immediately prior to joining Divex I was working in Counterterrorist and Threat Assessment with Allen Vanguard
Technical Services, based in Swindon.

You mentioned your 31 years in the Royal Navy – tell us a bit more about your time there.

I joined the Navy aged 16 as a direct entry Clearance Diver. Looking back, this was a fairly strange decision since I didn’t learn to swim until I was 13! I was inspired to become a diver after watching the Jacques Cousteau programmes, and when I went to the Navy careers office in Norwich I was told it would be beneficial to have swimming qualifications. I told the recruiter I had my 25-yard proficiency badge, to which he laughed – but luckily he took me on anyway. I thought perhaps I’d end up being a chef from the way that discussion went!

From the outset it was clear that this was the profession for me, and I’m hard pushed to think of times when I didn’t enjoy my work in the Navy. I progressed through the ranks to reach Senior Warrant Officer Diver, and the highlight of my Navy career was my three-year secondment to the US Navy in San Diego as a Chief Diver with the Pacific Fleet Underwater Engineering team. This time spent in the US has helped with my Divex work, notably in our recent collaboration in the US.

Tell us about your MBE.

I received my MBE for my services during the second Gulf War, and also for helping to set up a voluntary rapid response first aid team on Hayling Island in 2000. Getting the award was a truly humbling experience and not one I’ll ever forget.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I enjoy motorcycling with my eldest son Jamie – he’s 23 – we go on trips at least twice a year; I love the freedom of the open road and the excitement that being on the bike brings. I also enjoy sailing with my youngest son Tom, 19 – we try to go out a couple of times a month in Poole harbour. I also undertook a vigorous training route for the 24 hour canoe marathon that I undertook last year!

So it sounds like you’re quite a family man?

Yes – they’re very supportive of me and my work – particularly my wife Helen, to whom I’ve been married for 24 years. We met when I was in the Navy when she used to give me discounted rates with her car hire company in Rosyth – my kind of lady! My family’s support and encouragement have definitely made it possible for me to progress in my chosen career, so I’m truly appreciative of that.

Any final thoughts?

Looking back, I’ve been blessed to do something I’ve always enjoyed with a passion – and that’s always shone through. My advice to my boys is that quality of life is not solely based on how much you earn each week.

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