Unlocking the potential!

Unlocking the potential!

Diversity during a Downturn
A recent survey by EY highlighted the importance of diversity during this challenging time within the oil and gas sector.  More than ever, there is an awareness of the importance of adapting to new industry norms, pricing/business models and retaining talent. Gender diversity is a topic that impacts on the sector, we operate in, as well as hitting the headlines in salary gender gap news.
The percentage of women in senior roles is slowly growing across industries worldwide. The “glass ceiling” and gender stereotypes: women “take care” – men “take charge” still separates women from top leadership roles, viewing men as default business leaders. With 11% of the top global oil and gas senior executives being women, it is obvious there is more that needs to be done to attract and recruit women into senior executive and leader positions.
The career route I have taken so far came from building up expertise during my time with global firms.  I have now gone on to become co-founder of a consultancy, propelling myself into a leadership role, fortunately with no question from my co-director of what I can offer the business.
The aim of setting and reaching specific goals, was and still is, one of my main personal drives. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and Marketing, followed by a Master of Science degree in International Relations from the Cracow University of Economics helped me focus on my dream. With this vision, I moved to Scotland and in 2011 I graduated with a prestigious MBA degree from the University of Aberdeen. It was the beginning of an exciting journey I still continue today.
My work experience within oil and gas was dominated by male leaders. For me, this starkly illustrated how the industry lacks gender diversity, particularly at the senior level. Is it because of the apparent perception that talented women never join the industry or they drop out at the very early stages of their career? As American technology executive, activist, and author, Sheryl Sandberg’s famous quote goes: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
History shows that women leaders are used to fighting the system, questioning corporate structures and procedures, pushing against habits and proposing innovative solutions to get ahead. My best advice: don’t be afraid to think outside the box, have the courage to break the rules and question the status quo.
Recognizing, gaining commitment and embracing the need for change within an organisation is always the biggest challenge. Companies resist change as they become comfortable with the way the business is run. The truth is, businesses with a diverse workforce are better positioned to adapt and manage uncertainty and a rapidly changing global business environment. Internal mentoring, coaching and sponsoring programs, widely adopted across Fortune 500 companies, are powerful tools not only to support employees career development or knowledge transfer but also helps to retain talent, develop leaders and gain commitment.
We know that more than 60% of the world’s oil and gas transmission pipelines are over 40 years old, and in need of rehabilitation.  These subsea assets are not concerned about gender, so it is not something that should ever be a focus.  Nevertheless, statistics show that it is still a talking point and an issue throughout the industry. I believe that as the oil and gas workforce adapts, so too will the ways in which we work and attract talent.  It shouldn’t be a question of male or female – simply who is best at the task in hand.
Aleksandra Tomaszek is chief operating officer of 1CSI, a subsea integrity consultancy.  She is a member of the Project Management Institute and Institute of Directors.

You don’t have to be mad to set up a new oil business…

You don’t have to be mad to set up a new oil business…

Starting up a new business in the current VUCA, (Volatile, Uncertain, Ambiguous and Complex) oil and gas industry may, at first glance, appear an act of some madness – but bear with me.

Redundancy galvanizes people in different ways. In my case, it provided a trigger to put business ideas in place which hadn’t been possible within the confines of a multinational organisation. Not least because its corporate and decision making centre was on the other side of the world.

During that leaving process a fellow departing colleague, and my business co-founder to be, made a compelling point in flagging up that subsea assets and degradation mechanisms are no respecters of downturns and redundancy. They will, of course, continue to deteriorate.

In fact, more than 60% of the world’s oil and gas transmission pipelines are over 40 years old and, for the most part, in urgent need of rehabilitation in order to re-establish original operating capacity. So, the initial urge to use my new freedom to complete outstanding Munros and undertake an extended tour of Scotland’s finest golf courses was parked and the serious business of establishing a new, agile and dynamic subsea integrity business began.

I was born a Piscean, which may help explain why I took to commercial diving and have been involved in underwater welding and engineering from the earliest stages of my working life. I always had a predisposition and passion for subsea activity, which I could fully indulge when I arrived in Aberdeen in 1991. I worked with a company pioneering and managing the use of underwater ultrasonics to collect high quality data used in assessing the fitness-for-purpose condition of subsea pipelines and structures.

As the years passed ROVs increasingly replaced divers so in 2007 I invented the first ROV deployable, high resolution ultrasonic scanner, imaginatively titled ‘Neptune’. There are still a number of these tools in deep water service globally and in 2015 one was used to collect images from flexible risers at a world first water depth of 1800m in the Gulf of Mexico.

Being a veteran of the subsea integrity industry, I have been fortunate to have participated in the assessment of a wide range of underwater assets from risers, rigid and flexible, through manifolds, concrete coated pipelines, platform structures to offshore wave turbine structures and wind turbine monopiles. This varied portfolio has meant keeping abreast of existing and exciting new developments in subsea inspection technologies and utilising them to provide the safest, most cost-effective inspection solutions to underpin the respective owner/operators HSE fitness for service assessments.

The simple reason for our new business is based directly on the ‘Golden Circle’s’ WHW value proposition. In this case the W, or ‘why’- is for us to support, time-stretched subsea asset operators, working with limited resources and their respective integrity cycles. ‘How’ we achieve this is through in-house know-how, together with collaboration and alliances with existing and emerging technology providers as well as SMEs looking to re-engage with the new industry regimes. ‘What’ we provide, in the first instance, is impartial solution advice on specific integrity issues and challenges and, if called for, follow up with a seamless, single point of contact integrity delivery.

Both in preparation of our launch, and thereafter, we have received unprecedented encouragement and support from a broad range of industry bodies, including OGTC, SPE, OGIC, Subsea UK and the Institute of Directors. It demonstrates the level of backing available, and seeking it is something we would encourage new starts to pursue.

While aligning with the low oil price remains the key challenge for oil producers and the supply chain alike, we are already seeing clear evidence that there is interest in and room to challenge the status quo with fresh ideas and approaches to maintaining the integrity of subsea assets.

Matthew Kennedy is the CEO and co-founder of 1CSI Ltd, a newly established Aberdeen-based subsea integrity consultancy.