How I got where I am today: Craig Keyworth
What did you want to be when you were young?
Naturally I still consider myself young… As a schoolboy however I wanted to be a professional cyclist and adventure sportsman who raced cars on a weekend, flying my own spitfire between meetings and generally growing my toy box. I did plan on tipping up at work at my engineering company from time to time.
What are the main career stepping stones you have taken?
I’ve followed my interests as much as following a defined career path. Typically if I’ve changed position or company it’s been on account of working or being introduced to a particular aspect of engineering which has sparked an interest. I’ve predominantly worked with flexible pipe and subsea field development, so there are a number of product manufacturers in the list, as well as installation contractors and service providers.
I like to be challenged. When I’ve no longer been challenged, or if I’ve found something that complements what I have been doing, I’ve generally made myself available to that project or organisation. I’ve definitely focused on my goal of leading my own organisation, but whether by design, judgement or just pure good luck, I’ve mostly enjoyed what I’ve been doing, something that really helps with motivation.
Are you scared of making mistakes?
Mistakes are part and parcel of life. I get frustrated by apathy and carelessness which are put down to mistakes. The rest is what happens while we’re busy planning. I’d be worried if I thought I couldn’t recover from mistakes. If nobody made mistakes, we’d be without a lot of technological advancements we take for granted today.
Who has been your greatest influence?
I don’t have a single influence. I’ve been extremely privileged to learn from some fabulous leaders, motivators, engineers, business people and individuals throughout my life. I’ve also worked with and for leaders, motivators and some individuals of dubious character – these too can influence how not to lead.
I’ve taken many lessons from my professional and personal life, but also my own efforts and experience in my personal and competitive endeavours. I don’t believe there is one simple mantra or answer which will deliver success or progress, but hard work, endurance and preparation are never far from any success. Everybody needs a team and a good team is greater than the sum of its parts.
Best achievement so far?
I’ve done many things both personally and professionally that I’m incredibly proud of. Once achieved though, I’m usually focused on the next goal, so don’t really dwell on them. Currently I’ve got a great team of staff and we’re a strong unit, so that’s a real accomplishment.
What do you want to achieve in the rest of your career?
I have ambitious plans for Flextech. We’ve been focused on achieving international acclaim since its inception in 2013, we have already undertaken work in the Middle East, Far East and Norway, and have project and client support on the agenda for 2015 in Vietnam, Indonesia, Qatar and Hawaii.
There is place in the home market for common sense, hard work and synergies. Operators have a responsibility here and should look to engage with smaller more agile and dynamic companies that can innovate and undertake projects on a leaner more efficient basis. My current aim is to offer corporate levels of ‘finish’ with specialist levels of technical service.
Naturally, I hope to continue to enjoy my work and of course enjoy life outside of it also.
Is the “career for life" a thing of the past?
I think as an engineer, you can’t not be an engineer, but that’s more an affliction than a career. I’d be thrilled if I can motivate, enthuse and empower my current team to allow them to feel fulfilled and passionate enough to work within our organisation for their whole working life. That’d be a fabulous achievement, though I’m not a traditionalist in this sense.
In a growing company, let your team grow with it and you’ve got some real potential energy which should undoubtedly be harnessed. Let’s say yes, as I’ve still got that racing driver dream to aim for.
What have you actively tried to avoid in your career?
Monotony and complacency.
Your favourite stress-buster?
I like to keep busy even when not at work and, as an engineer, I naturally love cars, even the rubbish ones. I’m currently in the final stages of restoring a classic Mini Cooper S, and on completion every component, nut and bolt will have been fitted by myself.
What's your best career advice?
Be equally honest and loyal, to both yourself and to others. If you cannot change your current situation, you are wrongly situated. Ask nothing of others that you wouldn’t ask of yourself. I’m no expert though. Currently things are looking OK, but I’m working hard, possibly too hard, but I find it helps me be ‘lucky’.