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Morgan Phillips initially pursued a career in the Royal Navy before returning to education, studying at City College Plymouth for over five years. These experiences led to a prosperous engineering career, and he is now the active director of 15 companies as well as the new owner of Drake’s Island in Plymouth.
Following a career in the Royal Navy, Morgan undertook an electrical Apprenticeship at City College Plymouth to requalify as a civilian electrician. He says: “My work in naval engineering was mostly electrical and I enjoyed it, so it made sense to pursue it and get this qualification.”
Morgan then went on to do a further two courses at the College, studying part-time in the evenings, funded entirely by himself. He says: “First I did the Security and Emergency Alarms Course, and following that was one of the first in the country to do the NVQ Level 3 in Access Control and CCTV.”
Morgan credits his lecturers, who during that time, provided him with outstanding support. He says: “They made learning fun, which therefore made it easy to learn. It was a positive, happy environment. One fond memory is the work we did at an industrial unit in Beacon Park, where we gained practical experience and I remember learning how to put up a scaffold tower safely.”
Whilst undertaking part-time study, Morgan was employed by Thorn Security, and as a result of his drive to upskill via College courses, he was offered a promotion to become a Training Officer, teaching other engineers.
He says: “I ended up as manager of Thorn Security’s training school in Richmond. And having studied CCTV systems, I was asked by the Home Office to join a five-man team to write a government white paper for the design of CCTV systems in towns and city centres. None of that would have been possible without my studies at City College.”
Following this, Morgan gained exposure to the international division of Thorn Security, and when the company was bought by Tyco Corporation, Morgan landed a role that has taken him all over the world. He has worked in a variety of posts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Azerbaijan, Siberia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Turkey and Moscow.
He says: “At the time, Tyco was the 15th largest company in the world and I ended up being one of their youngest directors at the age of 32.”
He continues: “If I hadn’t taken those College courses and got myself noticed by Head Office, they wouldn’t have invited me to London to teach engineers. In turn, the international division wouldn’t have offered me a job. Studying at the College opened up huge opportunities for me.”
Morgan returned to the UK three years ago and is now an active director of 15 companies. He started his firm Guardian Industrial UK (GUIK) in Plymouth in 2005, an independent company with sister companies in Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Morgan is currently working on implementing additional resources for mental health and wellbeing within his company, as well as a profit share scheme for employees.
He says: “I care very much about the people we work with. I’m looking at putting more training opportunities in place for staff and I’m currently in talks with the College about Apprenticeships and continuing professional development courses. This will allow us to build up skills in the company and invest in our people and thereby incentivise them to help grow our business.”
Morgan recently purchased the iconic Plymouth landmark Drake’s Island, and is working on pre-commencement conditions to fulfill planning permission requirements – plans which include developing a spa and resort. He says: “There are 34 pre-commencement conditions to discharge before I can start any building work. This includes undertaking surveys on the wildlife and plants on the island, as well as the existing historic buildings and conducting a land contamination survey.”
It is Morgan’s vision to make the island accessible 365 days a year, weather permitting, to the public. Morgan’s vision goes beyond the initial planning permission and he says: “We want to create something for the people of Plymouth, including heritage and wildlife centres, and a research station to aid the conservation of seagrass beds.
“We’re in talks with the National Marine Aquarium, whose support has been unbelievable – our plan is to approach local schools about visits to the island, with an aim of 30,000 children visiting every year.
“The plan is to have a mini-submarine which, using cameras, will help survey the seagrass bed and plant additional seagrass to cultivate it. We’ll install a webfeed to the Drake’s Island and National Marine Aquarium websites for students learning about marine conservation.”
Reflecting on his career journey, Morgan couldn’t recommend the College highly enough, crediting it as a major factor behind his extraordinary career. He says: “For any young person unsure of what they want to do, have a look at the courses on offer and get yourself a trade. City College Plymouth is absolutely the best place to do it.”