Wireline Issue 43 - Autumn 2018

Professional Development | Mentoring

Alan Smith, Maintenance & Inspection Leader for Central Graben Operations, Total E&P UK, Mentor of the Year finalist, Oil & Gas UK Awards 2016

Why is mentoring important within oil and gas? Mentoring is important to help develop the technical and business skills and more importantly the confidence of developing engineers. It is important for experienced engineers to pass on knowledge and experience and to provide guidance on best practices. What makes a good mentor? An ability to listen and to assess the needs of the developing engineer and to provide guidance on how the engineer can achieve their goals. Is there a culture of mentoring in the industry? Should more be done to foster it? I am not sure if there is a widespread culture of mentoring in the industry, however it should certainly be promoted as a positive thing. I have found through my career that more experienced engineers have always been keen to help and provide guidance where I have asked for help or assistance. Are there skillsets or groups of people that need greater mentoring support from industry? I would say that with the reduction in numbers coming through apprenticeships and graduate schemes, there are less people coming up through the industry armed with base technical hands on skills and technical knowledge. The best engineers in my experience are the ones who have started at the bottom and worked their way up. Any advice you would give to prospective mentors and mentees? Be open and available, be friendly, be honest, be encouraging and where negative feedback is required, ensure that this comes with feedback and positive and constructive ways to improve.

The programme’s centrepiece events are twice-yearly employability workshops where industry professionals work with students on mock interviews, CV reviews and assessment centres. “It’s a simple format but it really works,” explains Ollie. “It’s an informal setting and students have the opportunity to ‘fail’. In fact, that’s part of the purpose – people have the leeway to make their mistakes there and learn from them.” The Transition programme has reached over 800 students in Aberdeen alone and has now been introduced at universities across the UK via the organisation’s national network.

as a natural consequence of their interaction – it’s an organic process.” He believes

the close links between the oil and gas industry and professional institutions which promote the principles of mentorship help make it a significant feature of the industry landscape. He is also confident that mentoring has a role to play in ensuring workforce continuity and supporting knowledge transfer, particularly during times when the job market is fluid and people move around more often. >

2011 and 2014 had secured a degree- relevant post within six months. The figure reached 70% over a 12-month timeframe. Even more encouragingly, 78% of all respondents believed the programme had contributed to their professional success. Ollie says many mentorships have developed out of contacts made at the workshops. “The relationships between mentors and mentees come

A 2016 survey indicated that over 50% of people who had taken part between

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