1. Tell us about your experience in the Middle East
I first arrived in the middle east on a cargo ship in 1973 as an apprentice marine engineer. Things were somewhat different in those days, cholera was endemic in Doha and we couldn’t go ashore, Oman was virtually a closed state and Dubai….well Dubai was mainly the creek area but there was the WT centre and trade centre roundabout. After that the SZ road went into the desert. However Dubai even then was good for gold and as our next stop was Bombay (it was called that then) we all stocked up to sell on the black market.
The next time I came across “the sand pit” was in 1984 when I was an operations manager for an oil field service company based in Muscat. This was a great time, hard work but excellent wadi bashing and exploring in the days before all the worthwhile places to visit were commercialised. Jebel Ali was in its nascent stages and there were no speed cameras on the roads :-). Life was good and in Dubai it was much less frenetic than today. Emirates airline had one or two aircraft and it was rumoured that the cabin crew were “emptied out of the bars” and press ganged into service, however I suspect this story was seriously embellished with time so apologies to Emirates Airlines. I spent three very good years in Oman and have fond memories of my time.
Finally today….and what a change, not all for the good from my perspective. I returned to Oman in 2001 to 2004. Oman had not changed drastically but when I crossed the border to live in Dubai in 2004 little did I know that I was about to observe at close quarters the infrastructure revolution that has brought the city state to where it is today. It has been a fantastic achievement but at the same time a little sad. Sad that so much older character has been lost and we have to require multiple seven lane highways to get us to work. Enough said – Dubai is dynamic, I believe it is here to stay unlike some other voices that, to use a German word as we do not have the equivalent in English, revelled in schadenfreude in 2009 at the beginning of the big crash. Yet here we are today and things are actually busier than they were then. On balance …I LIKE…if I didn’t, I would not still be here after 10 years.
2. How would you describe the culture of your business?
In a word ‘Oilfield’. Anywhere, anytime, little choice….get after it. The oil industry has been good to me over the years. It is dynamic, exciting, innovative and technically relatively advanced. I have met many great friends and countless expatriate acquaintances over the years. In fact I have been expatriate so long that I call “home`” wherever it is that I am currently living.
The prevailing values in the industry vary widely. While working practices have changed considerably since I joined the industry in 1977, values still vary widely between national and private operators and are influenced by the countries of origin of the operator sing companies In general though, the desire to learn is always present. I usually draw an analogy of myself to what a bumble bee does. I try to cherry pick the best practices from different operators and introduce them across my other clients.
3. How easy is it for you to get direct access to decision makers of companies?
I am one of the two decision makers! The other one is so understanding, open and cooperative that we have no problem working together. So I shall refer the question to the “decision makers of the companies that I work for”. Depends and various widely….from smaller private Oil and Gas organisations where access is easy to larger national organisations where it is similar to working for government and I believe in these cases, anywhere in the world, in any industry, it is not so easy.
- What are your biggest challenges in the next 5 years?
Not work or career development!. Deciding what I am going to do in retirement. I have two fantastic adopted girls from Ethiopia of 6 and 8 years of age. They have to be raised and sufficiently educated to compete it an increasingly challenging employment market. So an immediate challenge is to “stay young” for them and give them a happy life. Secondary to the girls will be me and possible retirement…………”what to do, what to do”? I can’t live the rest of my life through the girls and so following retirement, whenever that may be, I need to find a useful personal project to invest my time in.
- What is your philosophy?
The moment you stop trying to become a better person, is the moment you start to become worse than what you already are.
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