How I got where I am today: John Anderson

Published: 20 Feb 2015

What did you want to be when you were young?
I wanted to be a digger driver and I guess in a way I got there. I was always fascinated by big chunks of machinery and machinery doesn’t come much bigger than a drilling rig. That is what I was in charge of when I was a project manager earlier on in my career.

What are the main career stepping stones you have taken?
I studied Civil Engineering at Heriot-Watt University and then an MSc in Offshore Engineering at Robert Gordon University. After completing my studies, I joined and progressed through ADTI’s comprehensive Graduate Development Programme. The programme helps graduates meet the challenges of working in the oil and gas industry, and has been run by the company for over 20 years.

I guess I am quite unusual in that I have worked for the same company for my whole career. I progressed through various engineering roles, working my way up to senior drilling engineer both in the UK and Houston. After working on the commercial side of the business for a period I found my way back to the main core of ADTI in a project management role, running drilling operations. After this the opportunity arose to move permanently to the commercial side of the business.

John Anderson

I thought I would miss being directly involved in the fast paced drilling operations, but you get a buzz from winning work and negotiating contracts. You can get quite tense contract negotiations and when it comes through and you have managed to agree a satisfactory position on everything, it is a great feeling. I think that coming from a technical background I have a more practical outlook which can be useful when it comes to finding a solution in those situations.

Is the “career for life” a thing of the past?
For me it is not. I have worked with ADTI for my whole career and I have been fortunate that there has always been that next step to go to. This is probably unique in the oil and gas industry, and although at times I have had to be patient, I always knew the opportunities were there.

Best achievement so far?
From starting work as a roustabout on the development programme 16 years later I am fortunate enough to be a company director, which is something I am very proud of.

Are you scared of making mistakes?
I have made plenty of small ones and there are certainly things I would change if I could. I think the most important thing is to learn from it and not to make the same mistake again. I have always liked to take myself out of my comfort zone and take on new challenges, but in doing this, mistakes do occasionally happen. Each time you make one it is a learning process, you make sure that it is noted and move on.

Anything you would do differently?
I probably would not have studied civil engineering as I did not particularly enjoy it, and would have done mechanical engineering instead. However, if I had done that it might not have led to doing the MSc at RGU which I absolutely loved. It was very vocationally orientated and was great at preparing you for life in the workplace.

What do you want to achieve in the rest of your career?
ADTI has been bought by a private equity company and we have ambitious plans for the future. What I want to do now is help the company as it grows and looks towards international expansion. It is an exciting time for us which I am looking forward to, as our growth strategy includes a focus on opportunities in the Scandinavian, African and Asian markets. There is going to be a lot of work to do and it is my job to help ensure our expansion is done as well as it possibly can be.

Is there a time in your career you miss the most?
I had some wonderful times when I was on the graduate development programme, working in the Middle East in the Persian Gulf. Being young, experiencing different things and seeing the world through my work was great. I also enjoyed the excitement of working offshore at the coal face where it all happens.

Your favourite stress-buster?
My family, I have three young children whom I very much enjoy spending time with. Golf is also what I do to relax although I think some may argue at times it makes me more stressed. It is nice to turn off your phone and have a few hours when your only concern is getting a little white ball into the hole.

What’s the best way to motivate others?
I always think the best way is to treat people well and how you would want to be treated yourself. Giving someone the opportunity to prove themselves by throwing them in at the deep end can also be good as it demonstrates your faith in them and what you think they are capable of. Once you go through graduate development programme yourself you have the opportunity to become a mentor. I have mentored many people within the company and have hopefully helped them to develop and realise their potential.

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