Building a career in oil and gas Leonard Hamill, Operations Manager, tells us more

What’s your education background?

I attended Dyce Academy and went on to Robert Gordon’s University where I studied Construction Design and Management. I later studied a Master of Science in Project Management through distance learning and graduated in 2013 after receiving a merit in year one.

What did you enjoy most about university?

In third year I decided to study in Copenhagen for six months through Erasmus exchange which I really enjoyed. I was working within the Copenhagen Technical Academy as part of a team of other students. It was very multicultural; working with other nationalities provided an insight in to diverse working techniques and experiences. We had to deliver a project from start to finish and it was a real test of our skills. Everything has to be considered, architecture, electrics, mechanics and deliver the project at the end. It was a brilliant experience and the hard work paid off as I was awarded with the best student in my year.

What was your first job after graduating?

I started working at Stewart Milne Timber Systems in 2007 as an assistant project manager. I worked on a lot of different projects so I was out on the road a lot, dealing with customers and visiting sites in the central belt.

It was really good place to start because a lot of what I learnt there, I was able to take into roles later on in my career that weren’t based in construction. I was involved in finance and commercial aspects which I didn’t have any experience of before so I really learned my trade there.

Can you describe your current role?

I joined Pipetech in 2014 as operations manager to set up the UK business in Aberdeen. The company is an independent pipe and process cleaning solutions specialist. It was  a start-up then, so it was all hands on deck and I was excited to be part of something new. I enjoyed the feel of the smaller team and it was easier to see the impact my work made on every day operations. I got heavily involved in business development for the company while also managing the integration of Pipetech with its parents company, aligning the processes between Pipetech UK and our Norwegian counterpart.

I’m responsible for managing all UK awarded work from inception to completion, overseeing every aspect of delivery. The company has grown rapidly in the last three years so it certainly keeps me busy! I work closely with clients to research and engineer a tailored solution for them as well approaching new markets for opportunities. No day is the same as we often receive very challenging work scopes, so it is my job to find the answer to their problem. I compile tender submissions and support on the execution of documentation, financial tracking and ensure work is delivered on time, to a high standard.

We’re all about delivering excellence and there is no better feeling than seeing a job from start to finish and getting great feedback at the end of it. I work closely with our team in Norway and often travel there to meet with the operations team and work on new projects together, so it’s great to feel part of a wider team.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I contribute to the development of new products and technology which is always exciting. I support from the inception phase, looking at different concepts, what’s already in the market and then go through the patent process. We’re all about finding new solutions and pushing the boundaries at Pipetech so if we don’t have the answer, we’ll find it. There’s a real buzz within the business as everyone is so passionate about what we’re doing which is why I love my job so much.

I also enjoy the diversity of my job. Pipetech offers services across a number of areas including offshore rigs, gas terminals and onshore refineries so no project is ever the same.

What is one of your career highlights?

Within my first few months at Pipetech I designed and managed the fabrication of a bespoke pipework unit which is now regularly used to showcase the full capability of Pipetech’s solution offering. I was really proud of this work and it’s rewarding to see this project still used as an example in demonstration days to bring in new business.

How did you end up in oil and gas industry?

Being born and bred in Aberdeen, I was always keen to get into the oil and gas industry. My plan was to do a couple of years of construction and then move into oil and gas and that’s exactly what I did! There are a lot of principles from construction which go straight into oil and gas so it always made sense for me to transition at some point. I joined RBG, an oil services company which was later bought by Stork. I started as an assistant project engineer which, at the time, was actually a step-back for me but I knew there was huge potential to grow within the company. I worked hard and within four years I was operations manager for the company.

How do you think the younger generation view the oil and gas industry?

In the last few years with the lower oil price there has been a lot of negativity around the industry. Some people think unless you’re an engineer, there isn’t a place for you, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. The industry needs so many skills – HR, marketing, finance, there are many opportunities, it’s about finding the right one for you.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to enter the industry right now?

I would get yourself out there and look for the opportunities! Graduate programmes and apprenticeships are great because you’ll typically get experience in lots of different positions before settling in one. Also don’t be afraid to speak to people in the industry and attend events like Offshore Europe in September. You’ll see that oil and gas isn’t all doom and gloom, it’s an interesting industry so don’t discount it just because of the headlines you read. If anything, the challenging environment has spurred the industry to create better solutions and develop new ideas, so it’s a really exciting time to be a part of it.

What do you love most about working in the oil and gas industry?

I love how flexible it is as there is an acceptance to try different things, especially in today’s market. I think there is a perception that the industry is very traditional and old-school but there is a great deal of new technology being developed and new ways of working so you can learn so much entering the market at this time.

In my current role, I love working with my clients and helping them to find a solution for their problem. We have great relationships with a lot of suppliers and small companies which help us to get to the end goal.

How has Pipetech approached the low oil price environment?

Being a small team, we can react rapidly to things, more so than larger organisations, which is a valuable advantage to have. We’re also lucky to have huge amounts of experience within our team, with people who have worked in pipeline and process cleaning for many years.

Building strong relationships with our clients has proved invaluable as we work together on solutions so our clients know they can trust us. We provide a dedicated project lead for every job which is with the client from start to finish; they attend client meetings and then go on-site to complete the job so they have a full knowledge of the project requirements. For the client, this provides them with complete continuity and the knowledge that they know they jobwill be done cleaner, faster and smarter..