Society of Maritime Industries Management and Staff Team

John Murray 2015John C Murray BSc(Hons) DIS FRSA

Chief Executive, Secretary to the Maritime Autonomous Systems Group (MASG) Council & Ports & Terminals Group (PTG) Council 

A graduate chemical engineer, John Murray commenced his career in the oil industry. An active period of trade association involvement, during which time he ran his own company, ultimately led to his appointment as Chief Executive of the Society of Maritime Industries (SMI) a position he has held since April 2001. Mr Murray currently represents the industry on a number of external bodies including the Board of Maritime UK, Chair of the Maritime UK Technology and Innovation Group and Chair of the UK Maritime Autonomous Systems Steering Group. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the National Oceanography Centre; Vice Chair of the Greenwich Forum; a member of the Maritime Operations and Management Advisory Committee at City University and sits on the Steering Group of London International Shipping Week. A liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, in 2017 John received the Maritime Foundation Fellowship Award for consistent leadership in delivering maritime industries back into national prominence.


Christopher McHugh Captain Christopher S McHugh OBE BSc CEng FIMarEST Royal Navy

Programme Director and Secretary to the Maritime Defence & Security Group (MDSG) Council

Captain McHugh graduated in marine engineering at the Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon and served in the Royal Navy for 31 years.  A varied career of eight sea appointments included the marine engineer officer of the last World War II Battle class destroyer, HMS Matapan, senior engineer of the Royal Yacht Britannia and the marine engineer officer during the building of the first “stretched” Type 22 Frigate, HMS Boxer, at Yarrow Shipbuilders on the Clyde.

Ashore, he held a number of appointments in the Defence Staff in Whitehall and in the Procurement Executive and was, for three years, the technical naval attaché at the British Embassy in Paris. Mid-career training included the international staff course at the Ecole Supèrieur de Guerres Interarmées in Paris and he is a 1993 member of the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. He was made OBE in the military honours list for the first Gulf War in 1991.

After transferring to the retired list he held several consultancy portfolios including specialist defence adviser to the National Audit Office until 2006 and naval adviser to various French and UK companies in the former Thomson-CSF electronics group headquartered in Paris. Since 2001 he has been the Director of The Maritime Defence & Security Group (MDSG) Council at the Society of Maritime Industries (SMI). Captain McHugh is a fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology and a qualified French interpreter. 


Tom Chant - fullTom Chant

Business Development Director and Secretary to the Marine Science & Technology Group (MSTG) Council, Commercial Marine Group (CMG) Council & Digital Technology Group (DTG) Council

Tom has a long association with the marine industry having been an active sailor and student of boatbuilding in Southampton.  His career has encompassed a wide range of market sectors and he has gathered experience of business development, marketing and distribution in an international business environment.  A nine year period at the trade body for the leisure, superyacht and workboat sector was committed to developing the members’ export business.  This included running UK pavilions at overseas shows, management of inward and outward missions including Meet-the-Buyer events, plus the creation of market reports and representation on government committees.  Recent career experience has been within the marine interiors sector managing multiple distributors and OEMs from New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, Greece, UAE and South Africa.



Ava Catton MA(Hons)

Operations Manager and Data Protection Officer

Ava Catton is a masters graduate in Politics and has been with the Society since 2016, assuming her current role in April 2019. Ava seeks marketing opportunities for SMI and looks after membership as well as managing all events in the UK and overseas . She was voluntarily elected as SMI's DPO in 2018 as required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). She is responsible for overseeing data protection strategy and implementation to ensure compliance with GDPR requirements.


RHRebecca Hawkins BSc(Hons)

Executive Assistant

Rebecca is the first point of contact for all personal visits and telephone calls. She ensures the Chief Executive's administrative requirements are kept in order as well as the general administration and running of the office. Rebecca greets all visitors to our Threadneedle Street offices and makes sure all visitors are cared for. Members who wish  to reserve the Society of Maritime Industries board room for their meetings should contact Rebecca directly to make a booking.      


Dennis Williamson0001Dennis Williamson

Credit Controller & Facilities Manager

Dennis Williamson has been a stalwart member of the Society of Maritime Industries (SMI) team for many years and is usually the point of contact in respect of invoicing and payments.


Jane Andrews 1.15mbJane Andrews ACA

Finance Manager & Company Accountant

Jane Andrews is an independent accredited chartered accountant and is responsible for the production of the Society of Maritime Industries (SMI) management accounts and preparation of the financial statements for annual audit.  As someone independent from, members can be assured of the financial probity in the financial management of SMI. 


Chen Li MingChen Li Ming

China Manager (Based in Shanghai)

Chen Li Ming is a naval architect and for 13 years worked for Shanghai Merchant Ship Design & Research Institute (SDARI) before moving to Shanghai Edward Shipbuilding Co Ltd.  In 1995 Chen (as he is known to his friends) became an independent consultant and has been associated with the Society of Maritime Industries (SMI) and its predecessor organisation since that time.  He has an excellent track record in introducing companies to the Chinese market and the credentials to be able to “open doors” with Chinese companies and government organisations in the maritime sector.