Industry celebrates success of oil and gas mentoring scheme

The successes and achievements of a group of mentors and their mentees working in the oil and gas industry have been celebrated at an awards ceremony in Aberdeen.

A total of 18 project managers from a number of Aberdeen-based companies successfully completed the Oil and Gas Industry Project Management Mentoring Programme, which is co-ordinated by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB).

Now in its fourth year, the six-month scheme allows qualified and experienced project practitioners to 'mentor-forward', imparting wisdom and providing guidance to less experienced project professionals with the aim of accelerating their performance and careers. To date, almost 50 participants have benefited, many of whom are working towards chartered status with professional bodies such as the Association for Project Management.

Evidence shows that while technical skills can be learned online or in a classroom, behavioural and leadership skills can be enhanced via mentoring so, in 2014, ECITB and the Offshore Project Management Steering Group (OPMSG) set up a pilot scheme to mentor 14 young oil and gas professionals from the Aberdeen area.

Following its success, a full programme was launched, the aim of which was “to impart good practice in project execution within oil and gas-related organisations, through knowledge-sharing and knowledge-transfer”. It has attracted interest as a blueprint for other mentoring activities across the country, as well as other parts of the engineering construction industry, such as nuclear decommissioning.

Meanwhile, a number of others successfully completed the Association for Project Management’s Registered Project Professional (RPP), a pan-sector standard for those able to demonstrate the capabilities of a responsible leader with the ability to manage a complex project.

Chris Claydon, chief executive of the ECITB, said: “The delivery of projects to world-leading standards is vital to the future well-being of the oil and gas sector. Our project management mentoring programme shows how industry can put aside commercial interests to cooperate for the benefit of the sector as a whole.

“The ECITB is proud to support this and the other project management development programmes that the OPMSG is leading. The learning and experience from oil and gas is highly transferable to other sectors and, following the success of this scheme, we are rolling out similar programmes across other sectors.”

Peter Benton, chair of the Project Management Competence Working Group, described the mentoring programme as an excellent way of sharing learning and experience from delivery of oil and gas projects, something that is vital to the future well-being of the sector.

“The Project Management Mentoring programme goes from strength to strength each year, and that is very much down to the ongoing commitment and enthusiasm of all those concerned,” he said.

“It is quite an undertaking for both mentor and mentee, but the results speak for themselves in terms of how much both parties get from the scheme. It is very much a success story for everyone involved, with both sides learning a great deal, not just about their approaches to work, but also about themselves and their own ambitions. We are very much looking forward to welcoming the next cohort, who will be starting in 2019.”

Those who took part in the latest programme felt that the experience was invaluable to both mentors and mentees.

Jonathan Bird, of Pearl Engineering, said he and his latest mentee, Lee Senoussi, focussed on communication, decision-making and leadership during their time working together.

“I was just 16 when I successfully applied for an apprenticeship with a major oil and gas operator in Aberdeen, flew to Scotland and started a new career in the oil and gas industry. Along the way, I had some very good bosses who provided mentoring both personally and professionally, as well as sponsoring me to complete three part-time degrees. The experiences that I had, fed my desire to learn more and to pass on what I had learned.

“Mentoring has also contributed to my own continued professional development; as part of the leadership team, it is one of our responsibilities to mentor, coach, promote new technologies and techniques, inspiring others to follow and develop. It is a necessary part of the handover to the next generation.”

For Lee, a senior project engineer for Aberdeen-based PDi (Project Development International) Ltd, the breadth of knowledge to be drawn from a mentor provided him with an opportunity for reflection, as well as a chance to assess his strengths and weaknesses in his current role.

“Jonathan has lots of hints, tips and examples of similar scenarios he’d dealt with in the past and the subsequent outcomes,” said Jonathan. “One of the things I found useful was his ability to break down complex tasks and communicate them simply – as a result I have definitely learned how to prepare and communicate better.”

Those who completed the programme are:


Jacqui Aird-Paterson, Pro-tection Training

Jonathan Bird, Pearl Engineering

Will Black, Spirit Energy

Nick McDonald, Worley Parsons

Alasdair Smith, Oceaneering

Mark Brennan, Subsea 7

Bethan Vasey, Shell U.K.

Douglas Walker, Wood

Mitch Crichton, Worley Parsons


Lee Senoussi, PDI

Natalija Popelnikova

Kathryn Cumming, Worley Parsons

Kilian Palop Dorado, KPD Consulting

Sam Johnston, Fairhurst

Susan MacNeil, Worley Parsons

Patrick Phillips, Worley Parsons

Jennifer Kerr, Subsea 7

Robert Marshall, Shell U.K.

RPP Awards:

Peter Benton, Cephas Project Management

Alasdair Smith, ADIL

Will Black, Spirit Energy

Stephen Brown, CNR International

Mitch Crichton, Worley Parsons

Girish Kabra, Spirit Energy

Kevin Rettie, Wood

The mentors and their mentees

The mentors and their mentees

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