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People power – driving the oil and gas industry

In this issue of Business Scotland, we speak to Louise Wood, Managing Director of specialist recruitment agency Prodrill Energy Resource Solutions. Louise has over 30 years’ experience of corporate recruitment and in 2014, she was named Director of the Year for the Grampian region by the Institute of Directors.

Established 37 years ago, Prodrill is a recruitment agency working specifically with the oil and gas sector, focusing on technical roles operating across eight key sectors, within the drilling services, decommissioning/plug and abandonment, subsea, geoscience, completions/well services, plus all aspects of general engineering, operations & maintenance and management support.

Louise joined the company over 13 years ago when it was a part of the Sovereign Oil Group. In 2009, however, the business was the subject of a management buyout and set course for a new future with Louise at the helm.

Having always been part of a larger group, Louise’s immediate concern was to secure new funding and continue to build strong relationships across the industry. Working in partnership with the entire supply chain was crucial, engaging fully with all stakeholders to build strong foundations for the business. It was an approach which bore fruit, turning the company into a leading recruitment agency it is today.

Technical know-how was also imperative. “Whatever sector in which you work it’s important to know your subject matter. We take a proactive role across the industry we serve, participating in numerous working groups and attending technical industry seminars, so we are in touch with industry developments.

“We also undertake regulatory training and awareness training with various professional organisations across the oil and gas community, so that we have the technical knowledge necessary to understand the challenges our clients face. In addition, we belong to industry organisations including Oil & Gas UK and Decom North Sea, as well as The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

“Working within the oil and gas industry means we experience a lot of peaks and troughs. It is a demanding environment, you have to be able to handle rejection and make tough decisions, as not all business is good business, and ultimately recruitment is a target driven environment.

“The human capital supply chain in the oil and gas industry has changed dramatically in the last ten years. In the last four years, since the oil priced suffered a steep drop, the industry’s experienced a huge downturn. Humans have been at the sharp end of the cost-cutting and as a result, the industry’s lost a lot of experience and skills. This is having a detrimental effect on companies as the industry is now on the road to recovery.

“The oil and gas industry is project driven, and there’s a greater need for short-term projects to be fulfilled because of capital investment constraints. Everywhere businesses are trying to do more with less.

“It’s difficult to attract talent when continuous opportunities may not be available and many of the industry’s experienced personnel have moved to sectors in which they have long-term certainty.

“Businesses should always look to their future workforce needs and remember that reputation is around for a long-time, manpower planning is critical and where possible companies should step away from the hire and fire approach and give people a reason to be attracted to stay in the oil and gas sector.

“The industry continues to face challenges when resourcing for competent and skilled individuals. With the changing political landscape and future off-payroll working (IR35) reform in the private sector, companies will need to demonstrate they have the competitive edge to secure and retain the best people.

“At Prodrill, we have a low turnover of staff and the fact that our people stay with us for the long-term speaks volumes about how we operate. We are like a family, with a passion for people, always recognising their potential.

“We expect a lot of our team, yet in turn, we are supportive of our colleagues if their personal circumstances change, trusting them and working flexibly. There is a lot of goodwill in the company, we are all team players who work very hard, going the extra mile for our clients.

“Our small, knowledgeable team has over 100 years’ experience in the recruitment industry. Agile and versatile, we react quickly to the changing demands of the industry, adapting to meet our clients’ evolving needs. When you choose a recruitment partner it’s important that you don’t simply do this based on size but look at subject matter expertise too.

“Recruitment makes a huge contribution to the economy. In the past ten years, we’re proud to have completed over 2,000 client projects worldwide in the energy industry and we are looking forward to developing the business over the coming years and being part of the Vision 2035 for the oil and gas industry.”