INEOS has arguably cornered the market when it comes to offering its graduates the experience of a lifetime on land. So it was only a matter of time before it looked for an equally exciting adventure to show them what they were truly capable of – at sea.

The challenge was the chance to race 16 other vessels from Liverpool to Dublin on board a 125ft tall ship.

The Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust’s Apprentice Ship Cup is billed as a life-changing adventure, one that strengthens character, fortitude and self-confidence, and with thrill-seeking Jim Ratcliffe at INEOS’ helm, that was always going to appeal.

“The MAST charity’s vision, purpose and values aligned with ours for the development of our graduates,” said Brian Turner, Learning & Development Manager.

To give INOVYN’s graduates a taste of what might be expected, they met the captain of a tall ship berthed at Liverpool Docks.

“We wanted them to see for themselves the vessel that they would be spending the best part of a week on,” said Brian.

When they got back to the office, all were keen to join the ship’s crew.

“Unfortunately, the timing meant some already had commitments that couldn’t be changed,” said Brian. “But three of our graduates signed up.”

For almost a week Rob Raven, 25, Jacob Dossett, 24, and Josh Murray, 24, and the other crew members worked in four-hour shifts round the clock to steady the ship, remain on course and stay motivated.

“We knew the experience would be very different to what they are used to,” said Brian. “We also knew they would be working with a diverse group of young people from different backgrounds with different attitudes.”

For Rob, adapting to working with a team of mixed abilities and motivation was the biggest challenge.

“It was hard but being thrown into such a mixed team helped me to develop team working, networking and leadership skills,” he said.

All three are now back on dry land – and have done themselves and INEOS proud.

They were aboard the Morgenster, a 99-year-old former deep sea vessel, which finished their race – the initial leg of the Tall Ships Regatta – in first place.

Not only that, but at the recent awards ceremony at Liverpool’s Merseyside Maritime Museum, all three shared the award for the best trainee on board.

“Normally there is only one award but the captain and professional crew could not distinguish between them, so they got one each,” said HR director Tony Moorcroft.

But the good news did not end there.

The Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust weren’t only impressed with the quality of INEOS’ graduates. They rather admired the company’s ethos too – and awarded it the Apprentice Ship Cup.

“That was a big surprise,” said Brian.

The Cup recognises the importance of the role played by the sponsors – and the work they do behind the scenes to support their graduates and promote the event.

INOVYN won it for a combination of the graduates’ attitude together with the professional dealings with Brian and fellow manager Joanne Skyner.

INEOS is gaining quite a reputation among graduates – both inside and outside the company.
Those who join INEOS know that a real job from day one, training and incredible experiences await them.
“It is starting to set us apart from other companies,” said Brian.

In May this year, INEOS once again took a group of 3rd year graduates to Africa where they embarked on a 250km run and cycle through the untouched Namibian desert.

“We love challenges like these because it is an opportunity to take the graduates into a very different environment and test their ability to adapt quickly,” said Brian. “These opportunities also help them to discover what unique qualities they have and show them how they can achieve by working as a team.”

Not only has the experience on board the Morgenster shown INOVYN’s graduates the importance of communication and teamwork, they have also learned a thing or two about sailing and that the best way to a happy crew is to keep everyone fed and watered.

Image: Morgenster (left) departs Liverpool in 2018, by James M Pilgrim