Growing up in a small village in the Highlands, Fraser Macdonald always had his sights set on a career that would take him to faraway lands.
Currently based in Dubai, he is the operations support manager for EV, which offers well diagnosis via downhole video and integrated sensors, where he is responsible for providing operational support throughout some of the company’s busiest regions, including the Middle East and North Africa.
A career in the oil and gas industry wasn’t the first choice for Fraser. On leaving school, he embarked on an electrical engineering course at Inverness College, before deciding to enlist in the Royal Air Force as an avionics technician.
After seven weeks of training at RAF Halton in 2001, Fraser undertook 14 months of intensive avionics training at the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering in the West Midlands. He graduated in October 2002 with an NVQ Level 3 in Aircraft Engineering.
His first posting was at RAF Lossiemouth, working on Tornado GR4 Air Radar, flight and communication systems before completing an Advanced Modern Apprenticeship in Aircraft Electrical Engineering.
Shortly after completing his Modern Apprenticeship, Fraser was sent to Bosnia for a four-month operational tour of duty, to continue the peacekeeping mission post war.
“My first operational tour of duty was in Bosnia as a regimental policeman, where it was my job to help with the post-conflict stabilisation of the country,” he said.
“This role was very challenging and significantly different to my primary role in the RAF as an aircraft engineer. I was one of only a few RAF personnel working alongside the Army, but everyone worked together to help get the country back up and running.
"We only had limited interaction with the public but it was still a dangerous situation, which involved lots of check points and vehicle searches in the area and this meant regularly dealing with unexploded objects.”
After five years based in Lossiemouth, Fraser also spent time in Northern Ireland and completed several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as an aircraft engineer on the front line, before returning to Scotland to become a recruiter for the RAF in Glasgow.
After 12 years in the Forces, Fraser decided the time had come to make the transition back into civilian life.
He said: “I had always envisioned myself pursuing a career in the oil and gas industry after my time in the RAF. In addition to the range of professional challenges in the industry, the opportunity to travel continued to have a special appeal for me and this was a path I had considered before I even started college.
“As I approached the end of my time in the Forces, an ex-RAF colleague started working for EV, and after researching the company’s unique downhole technology, I was really keen to learn more. He encouraged me to apply for an available position and I think my RAF experience gave me a great advantage for the interview.
"Despite enlisting in the RAF for 22 years, I decided to embark on a new career while I was still young enough for it to be a relatively easy transition.”
Fraser’s first position with EV was as a field engineer in Aberdeen. After completing offshore survival training and passing offshore medicals, he was posted to Canada for a month to shadow Canadian field engineers on remote jobs across Alberta and British Columbia.
Recalling his first “solo flight” offshore, Fraser said: “I will never forget my first trip offshore and my sheer amazement that such a huge, metal platform could be like a small town in the middle of the North Sea. Despite some of the incredible sights I had seen during my time in the RAF, this was a completely different world.
“There are so many skills from the RAF that I use in my current role. My electrical background was a huge benefit for easily getting to grips with processes and procedures – safety is the number one priority in both industries.
"An important requirement of the RAF was to be completely flexible for travelling anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice, for potentially a prolonged period of time, so this stood me in good stead for offshore work.
“I’m incredibly lucky that I’ve been able to experience so many countries and cultures. I also took a year out of the RAF in 2007 to travel and spent most of my time in South East Asia and Australia, but in the two and a half years I’ve worked for EV, I’ve visited more countries than I had during my entire 12 years in the Forces, including Angola, Saudi Arabia, Romania, Denmark and Italy.”