Initially encouraged by an art teacher at his local college, Andy Yuill’s career was grounded in the interior design course at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. “Napier had one of the best courses in interior design,” he says. “As well as allowing me to develop my interest in spatial awareness, the course specialised in sketching and presentation techniques both of which have served me well. Being able to sketch when with clients is very important as it shows an ability to translate ideas quickly for them. Although the computer has largely taken over when it comes to presenting visuals and other forms of renderings, to this day I still prepare free-hand visuals to illustrate ideas quickly.”
On graduating, Andy joined the throngs seeking work in London. He completed a stint at architecture-and-design company TTSP before moving to maritime work. “I started with the company that would become SMC in 1989, but left twice during recessions to go to Australia,” Andy says. “I returned in 1994 and I’ve been with the company ever since. Although SMC has been involved in marine design since its early days, I began working with Star Cruises in 1995 – a client I still work for 21 years later!”
Purchasing SMC jointly with now-retired business partner Andrew Collier in 2005 saw the company evolve to a more holistic approach in line with Andy’s vision. “It was always my ambition that SMC should be a design consultancy offering everything to marine-industry clients,” he explains. “This enables them to complete large-scale projects with a greater degree of continuity. It also makes the work more rewarding for us – the ability to control the total design project gives a wonderful feeling of satisfaction on the day a vessel is completed.”
Andy’s career has had its challenges but both experience and longer-term projects have enabled him to overcome them. “There have been times when work has dipped – especially during recessions – but as a businessman you learn to deal with this,” he says. “Nothing trains you for it and I have learned that you can usually ride out a storm. But I’m lucky to be involved in an industry where it takes several years to complete a newbuild because projects such as these have helped SMC bridge troubled waters.”
For those keen to pursue a career in maritime design Andy sees little difference to land-based roles, with both design and people skills imperative. “As a designer, the cruise sector doesn’t differ at all. It’s about good design at the end of the day,” he explains. “Regulations differ but good design is good design no matter where it is.”
“I am very proud of my Scottish heritage and believe that we bring something very special to the professions we are involved in,”
Andy is clear that the ability to work with others is paramount. “Enjoy what you do, enjoy working with and learning from your colleagues as you are all in it together,” he says. “It’s about teamwork. You can’t undertake such large-scale projects without the right people doing the right job around you.”
And the long-term outlook for the maritime sector? It is strong, Andy believes. “Design will continue to evolve as it will anywhere else,” he says. “There will always be a variety of vessel styles, from mega to boutique-style ships. These will continue to grow to appeal to the large cross section of guests, so the future is very bright.”
Proof if needed, exists in SMC’s high-profile project line-up with cruise lines such as Saga and Viking in the more immediate mix. “We are very excited to be involved with Saga. It’s our first time working for a British company, based in Britain with British clients, yet building a vessel at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany,” says Andy. “We have ongoing involvement creating the Viking Cruises fleet and the recently completed second vessel Viking Sea. Genting Dream is to be finished in October 2016 for the dynamic Asian market – SMC is responsible for 100% of the design, so imagine how excited and proud we all are.”
Attributing his career success to the combination of a strong work ethic and Scottish roots, Andy remains appreciative. “I am very proud of my Scottish heritage and believe that we bring something very special to the professions we are involved in,” he says. “London is an extremely diverse, multicultural and wonderfully interesting city where you get out of it what you put into it. It has not always been easy but I am delighted with what that young man from Aberdeen has achieved. To do so with a career that I love is a bonus and I tell people that I’m lucky to draw for a living.
“And I still find it incredibly humbling that so much money is spent to produce the designs we have created from an early sketch on a piece of paper.”
Thank you Andy for inspiring others to craft their own career story.