Optimus Blog - Gillian Passman, Head of Business Operations

Change. What does Change mean to me? I was asked that as I was preparing to write this blog and I started to look back over my career.

For me, change is about being adaptable, back in the very beginning as a young 18 year old, I did not get the grades I wanted to start a degree in Chemical Engineering, at any university, never mind the one I really wanted to go to. I had my life planned out from the age of 14. I was going to be a Chemical Engineer! I knew which University I was going to, what A-Levels I needed to study, I was smug with the careers advisor. Then I got to my A-levels and realised, I am not academic. I understood the processes and principles but when it came to the sitting of exams, I would get super stressed and my mind would blank out…

So what would I do, continue down the path that didn’t work for me? Resit my A-levels, even though I knew I would struggle and possibly get the same result or try something different, take a new path, change, “adapt” my thinking. I took advice. I got a place at Uni, but doing an HND instead of a degree. I modified my thinking and adapted to the new circumstance and found that I did indeed love engineering, specifically the practical side, my brain worked in that way. I did well and made it to the 2nd year of the degree at the university I always wanted to go to. It was a different route and a couple of years later than expected, but I still made it.

The degree was hard and I had to work hard to get the grades that I got, but I learned how to be resilient and pick myself up and dust myself down, something that I needed for the rest of my career to now and I suspect I will need it for a long time to come.

All good, right?

Aha, well! I moved to Aberdeen as my husband had already gotten a job up here, we were both process engineers, I figured if he can get a job, so can I. I arrived a year after him, during my first downturn experience. There were few graduate jobs and again, this wasn’t in my plan, I had to change my route. I plugged away and finally was given a contract position as a junior engineer on what was to be a great project, a massive brownfield modification with a team of people who taught me so very much and I adapted my way of working in the life of a contractor. No safety line for me, I had to do it well or lose it.

Where am I now though, how many more times did I have to change? All of the time is the answer, the only constant in life is change, but the great thing about it is it will always provide a learning experience.

Over the past year, the whole world has undergone a massive change, yes, I am talking about the global pandemic and all of the drama that entails, but what has it proven about us as a human race? That we are adaptable, that we can modify our behaviours for the good of everyone. This is something I hope we never see again in our lifetime or even our children’s lifetime but the proof is there, we can change for the greater good.

Are we as engineers more adaptable to change? Can we pivot in a world that has gone in a very straight line for so long? I like to think so. Here at Optimus, we have seen over the past twenty years so much change, from the boom times of £100 oil to just last year, the negative values for WTI and we are still here. Our amazing team, here at Optimus, have adapted to the changing conditions, have come up with ingenious ideas as to how we keep surviving and aiming to thrive within the industry. Does that remain as just Oil and Gas, it has been our mainstay for so long, but are we happy, have we ever been truly happy with only working within that sector? I think the transition and change to the energy industry is a big step. We are all looking forward to bringing clean energy to the world for our children and their children and hope that they will learn from our steps and continue to evolve, much as Optimus is evolving. This evolution comes from our positioning teams working on the strategy around portfolio diversification, and the HR and operations teams working together to bring a different type of diversity and inclusion to the engineering world.

So when you think of change, forget the negative connotations with it, think of the positives, adaptability, diversification, evolution. Think of how we as humans recognise this is the only constant in life and must be resilient to the change, and how we as an engineering company recognise this as a way to add value to the wider customer base, whether than is oil and gas operators, providing efficiency around emissions, offshore and onshore renewables, providing the structural and instrument knowledge required to get those projects off the ground or process helping with the full implementation of carbon capture and how we make the air around us cleaner. Or an 18 year old worried about where their career can go….

This is what change is. Evolution for the future to make the world a much better place for us all.