Four years ago, I left the comfort, security and safety of working for one of Aberdeen’s largest subsea engineering companies, to establish my own systems engineering business – Enteq Ltd.
Setting up by yourself is not for the faint hearted. Creating your niche and running your own business requires certain characteristics and personality traits out-with the obvious requirement to be on top of your game. My experience is second to none.
Like many small business owners, working in life during and after lockdown has been like riding a rollercoaster. And for most businesses, you either adapt, innovate or you will struggle to survive. Lockdown has given me the time to re-define my business strategy, along with the structure and governance to deliver it. On top of this, I have been able to reflect on how Enteq ltd will benefit and realise efficiencies. Some of the major decisions have been to establish a team comprising top industry professionals (leaders in their field), and develop clear and methodical processes that enable a decentralised way of working.
Which of your personality traits do you feel have been key to your success?
For me it would have to be my forensic attention to detail (or controlling nature as my wife would describe it). Thinking back in time, I believe it was my work in technology qualification and being plunged into a large complex project in the early days that required me to develop an in depth and systematic way of thinking about any problem.
A lot of the time I was asked by my superiors to do things I was unfamiliar with. However, I really enjoyed breaking down the problem, mapping out the elements, planning the activities and carrying out research to find a solution.
The key to arriving at a solution is to first decompose the initial problem, identify the elements, and define manageable steps which pave the way to a solution. If you compare this to climbing a mountain, the thought of reaching the top may overwhelm us initially.
However, by breaking it down into smaller steps the path to the top becomes clearer and we become more optimistic about the outcome.
What did you experience in the marketplace that you wanted to do better than others?
When I worked for large companies, the engineering and project management activities were often not well planned, executed, or managed. Solutions were often taken from other projects without spending enough time understanding the real customer needs and assessing architecture suitability.
The attitude towards technical and project risk was at times questionable, leading to expensive issues at a later stage, that could have been mitigated if the risks were assessed and managed from the beginning.
Why did you want to start up your own company?
I wanted to create a business with a strong engineering and project management base. A culture that fosters innovation, creativity and empowers people. Where solutions are developed based on customer need.
We understand that assessing system architecture and alternative solutions are important steps in providing our customers with optimum solutions for their projects and applications.
Enteq Ltd is the platform which enables me to bring all of these elements together in a structured and meaningful way, and deliver them to the marketplace through my experience, values, and principles.
What has been the difference between moving away from being an employee of a major oil and gas company to being the managing director of your own enterprise?
I think the main differences is that I have the freedom to create an environment, and business structure which reflect my own values and principles. I really feel that it is vital to infuse this into the business culture from the very start to enable success.
My next point is always a bone of contention within large corporations. Now that I have established Enteq Ltd, I have the ability to make decisions quickly, without the constraints and overhead of intra-company politics and bureaucracy.
It is also a great motivator to have the ability to implement new innovative and efficient methods of working; that applies both to myself and all my staff. Sometimes change is good. Shaping and strategically directing Enteq Ltd has to be near the top of my list of positives in forming Enteq Ltd. This comes with the benefit of having direct control over the business its direction, and its finances.
When you start your own business, you have the power to do all of the job roles that you love best. I really enjoy working directly with customers, to build relationships, and this allows me as part of Enteq Ltd to deliver a very personalised quality service.
With all the positives there are always negatives and the two main drawbacks to owning and running an SME are sacrificing of large company benefits and losing the security of regular income. However, this in itself drives you on to create a business which is dynamic and of real value in the marketplace.
Why could Enteq Ltd be better than your competitors?
One aspect that I firmly believe in, is that Enteq Ltd sets out to, and always delivers, a focussed, personalised service. We achieve this by spending quality time with our customers at the start of every project to understand, and define, their needs and requirements.
The next stage involves meticulous planning of project activities, deliverables, and identifying risks. By adopting this approach, we develop solutions that are driven by customer needs, and ensure projects are well planned and managed from the beginning.
We are focused on engineering and optimising systems for our customers, and do not have time for corporate politics and bureaucracy. By operating an agile business structure, we are able to execute projects efficiently, at less cost whilst also responding quickly to change.
Our forensic attention to detail, enables us to define the boundaries and requirements precisely, solve problems quickly, whilst reducing costs, and realising efficiencies.
Which project in your career really stands out and sets you aside from your peers?
Considering the complexity and scale it has to be the Asgard project at Aker Solutions. When I first started, I was thrown into the deep end and had to learn the system architecture and also familiarise myself with Akers own proprietary technologies.
On top of this, I had to get up to speed with Akers processes and identify the key project and business stakeholders that would enable me to deliver my work successfully.
It really was a challenge in the beginning, but I overcame this and learnt a lot on this project, had fun along the way, and met a lot of friendly, inspiring people that helped me develop into the engineer I am today.