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Next up on the blog we have Sam, a Subsea Systems Engineer. Sam shares his story about how he got to where he is today – we hope you enjoy reading.
Please get in touch if you wish to share your story ‘after Heriot’s’.
What is your current role?
I have been working for 3 years for the Italian state, and publicly owned energy company Eni as a Subsea Systems Engineer in London. I have worked on international assignments in Poland, Italy, Malta/Libya, Angola, and the USA. I have worked on rotation as a structural engineer designing a bridge and a monopile. I am also the project coordinator for a software implementation project, trying to change the way we work through implementing a digital twin for all of our offshore projects.
How did you get there?
Gap year, ski season and travel around South East Asia followed by a Master’s Degree in Engineering and Management from the University of Exeter. A couple of random internships after university in Sports Management, Shipping, and Engineering. Failed to get into the army, failed the medical as I was deaf. In hindsight my disability saved me, that failure made me become an engineer, a much maligned and unloved career path but one I am passionate about promoting. There aren’t many jobs that give you such varied and interesting opportunities at a young age.
What are your top achievements?
At work – chosen out of the graduates in the UK to go to Italy for a 3-month management trainee course, unfortunately due to Covid it was online. The course did open my eyes to the change afoot in the energy sector, the world’s biggest industry has to flip on its head through the course of my professional career and Eni is at the forefront of it. An exciting place to be, full of change and opportunity.
Was flown first-class from a skiing trip in Japan to oversee a 20 million-dollar project in USA to manufacture and deliver a cable to Indonesia with less than a years’ experience on the job, had the opportunity to travel to Panama City, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.
As the coordinator of a software implementation project with a Norwegian company called FutureOn, changing the way we work, my team managed to expand the use of the platform across the company, to several different operating countries and subsidiaries.
At school when asked what I wanted to do with my life I replied, “build a bridge”, and I successfully designed one that will be installed in Iraq in 2023. I am also a STEM ambassador, trying to encourage school children in London to work in engineering.
Currently offshore in Angola on a drilling rig, sea life is an exciting life and a welcome break from the grind of London.
Personally – I somehow managed to cycle the North Coast 500 with a group of friends, we setup a JustGiving page and we raised £10,000 for the charity Sport in Mind. I have Motorbiked over the highest road in the world, climbed the highest mountain in North Africa, bungee jumped off Victoria Falls and travelled a bit.
What are your abiding memories of Heriot’s?
The teachers. Even though I was in the lowest English set I was given the best teachers. Mr Simpson’s English lessons and classroom, the view of Edinburgh castle will be forever engrained in my brain, the welcome distraction of the Tattoo stand being built on the esplanade. Even with this view his lessons on the ridiculousness of EM Forrester’s pretty dreadful Italian love affairs instilled in me an avidity for Italy, he is one of the reasons I love working with the Italian’s every day.
Mr Dickson’s English Classroom, he found out I could do a mean Welsh accent as a 13-year-old and for some reason made me pretend to be from Llandrindod when playing Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He also instilled in me a hatred of yawning, leaning on walls, and an untucked shirt. Mrs Dickson’s mathematics teaching was second to none and Mr Wyllie’s wise words and willingness to forgive.
Tell us your two ‘takeaways’ from your Heriot’s days.
Although I didn’t realise it at the time, the amount of effort put in by many of my teachers, when I was anything but a good student, has stood me in good stead. Especially my English teachers for instilling in me a passion for reading that I didn’t know I had. If the school hadn’t forced me to study English I definitely wouldn’t have.
As much as I sound like the old headmaster Mr Hector, and unfortunately my report cards at school rarely testified to it but hopefully they would now – effort really does equal reward in most aspects of life.
The lack of bullying at Heriot’s is also something we took for granted. Gives you an advantage over bullies. Distribute chearfullie is a fine motto, be generous.
Any top tips for current pupils when planning their future?
No hot tips, never been any good at the races, but become an engineer. No other job allows you to wear a suit one day debating the price of a software contract, then fly round the world, and wear coveralls, steel toe capped boots, and a hard hat the next to help build something. If that doesn’t sound good do something creative make music, books or films, become an artist or chef. If you want to earn loads of money start your own business.
Clichéd but there’s no rush, I tried plenty of different jobs and internships before I found something I actually enjoyed and will hopefully try many more.
Don’t follow the crowd. Most people have to work 5 days a week, that’s 65% of your year (holidays accounted for). So, create a narrative for what you want your life to be and try to fulfil it in your job.
Make sure you spend as much fun and get all the travelling out of you before you start work. Or become an engineer and you can travel with your job. Work hard but more importantly, enjoy everything you do.
Finally, relationships are the most important thing in any line of work so make sure you learn to speak to anyone and everyone.