Thursday, 29 January 2015

Broke The News To The Kids

The wife picked the kids up from school today and once they got home we broke the news to them.

Needless to say there was a certain level of excitement expresses (well except the youngest who wasn't feeling to good).

Another step closer........

Home Day - Again

Spoke too soon yesterday.

First it was lack of diversions that put a halt to the flights, then it was followed up by the latest favourite of the 'No Flying' calls - triggered lightning.

Today, things were much better, flights were moving without any problem so got home fine.

Was half expecting to get more delays given the weather warnings for snow. They appear to have stayed more on the West of Scotland fortunately.


You can read more about triggered lightning at the Met-Office web site:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/helicopter-triggered-lightning

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Home Day

That's it then. the last week over. The choppers due in a few hours.

Yesterday the guys brought in a cake at the afternoon tea-break which went down well.


Weather is picking up, so hope it doesn't get up too quickly!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Last Trip in North Sea?

Head offshore today to Beryl Bravo for what could be the last trip I do in the North Sea.

I will refrain from using the word 'ever' as you just never know!


Since my first ever trip offshore in November 1992 I have had the pleasure of working on all five of the Forties platforms as well as staying on the Iolair for the odd day here and there while she was present in the field. To finish off this era the last year was spent up on the Bravo in the Beryl field.

All very different platforms with very people, but strangely very similar!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

General musings....

Fedback to the new employer that notice had been given to former employer, they are starting to move ahead with working out the scheduling for the visits etc.

Chewing the fat with a pal on Facebook about things and finds our from her that a pal of hers is also also heading out to the same company with his family. Small world!


Also, with things now public it means that there is no harm in connecting to various Qatar groups on Facebook to keep up to date with things. Pages such as:

Although, that as you would imagine, is just a fraction of what is available!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Resignation Time.

Well, today is the day.

I took a drive out to the office, it was very slow and traffic was horrendous due to overnight snow and ice.

Gave me plenty time to think, that is for sure.


Got into the office and went to popped into see my boss.


Delivered the news.......I just could not believe how hard it was to tell them. I suppose after 25 years it is a massive change, it is bound to have some impact.


After spending a bit of time in the office catching up with a few of the others. I headed off to meet the wife and my parents for a spot of lunch, before heading to town to get ideas for furniture to take with us etc.

By the time I got home, there were messages already starting to appear from colleagues etc. wondering if the rumours that were circulating were true and was I really heading off.


I find it hard to get my head around this sad and happy mixed emotion.


Not to worry though, just keep going and I'm sure it will all work out!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Another Day Closer

Couple of emails today regarding onboarding. Definitely starting to sink in now!

Clarified a few things regarding visa and resident permits and couple of other bits and bobs.

Also had an email come in from the relocation company that is managing the whole relocation, accommodation, school visits and tours of the destination. This is when it really starts to sink in!



Then the hardest thing......drafting my resignation letter, tomorrow is the day I feel to hand it in. That will be the toughest part.


25 years, 4 months, 22 days and counting.....coming to an end.....I'm sure there is a tear trying to get out.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Store hunting....

Starting to think of the things that need to take with us, household goods etc.

Went into a couple of large stores in Aberdeen to just have a general browse for ideas and look about. The kids were with us, but they were just a nightmare....try again without them another day!



Thursday, 15 January 2015

Contracts Time

Everything is becoming more of a reality and starting to sink in.

This morning, the contract documents arrived today for signing....after a read through of everything and made sure they aligned with the received offer numbers it was time to sign them......

Done.

Scanned and returned.......that is step closer!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Car Insurance NCDs

If I'm going to be in my home country for <90 days per year, it is going to be pretty pointless to have an expensive car sitting around doing nothing.

However, no claim discounts are important for keeping car insurance costs down and need to keep them maintained so they do not get lost. I check my current insurance provider's literature and website, but couldn't find anything that told me what their policy was. Also, they have no direct email contact addresses, so the only option is to phone. Or is it.

Hopping onto Twitter, a quick check to see if they had a presence, and yes they do so I sent them a quick tweet;

They pretty quickly responded (in 12 minutes!) with the answer that they remain valid for 2 years, but will accept up to 3 years if I return to them. Excellent, now I know.

Thanks Tom!

Another win for social media. Not having to sit in telephone queues!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Golf - Country Member Status

Excellent, the golf club came back this morning and confirmed they can switch me to a country member, that saves a couple of hundred quid and also means I don't break my membership and still have it to use for those rare summer days when I'm home.

Maybe time to get the kids into golf!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Cancelling Subscriptions

Magazine Subscriptions
I don't know about you, but I certainly have a couple of computer related magazine subs. They usually get billed automatically for a period in advance.

As things look like they are starting to move, I thought it be best to start reviewing everything and get ahead to minimise chaos.

So thats the first of the culls. Two subscriptions down.

The Golf Club
Also my golf club membership is due for renewal in 6 weeks. Now I have been a member for over 26 years. I don't really want to cancel it, but don't see the point in paying the full membership price when going to be in the country less than 90 days per year. Dropped the club secretary an email to see if it is possible to change to a different membership type that caters more for me. No harm in asking!

Let The Onboarding Begin

Email dropped in this morning with a form to complete to commence the onboarding process. Also had to gather up the relevant documents to scan and send.

Passports for us all, Childrens Birth certificates, Marriage Certificate and my qualifications certificate.

It is all starting to become a reality.

Hope everything goes smoothly, i.e. no issues with the visa etc.

The plan is for me to head out initially, then once we get the property all sorted out and get the kids lined up with schooling they will come out and join me.

Well, that's sort of the plan in short form!

Friday, 9 January 2015

It is a Yes!

9th January 2014 Well, after some discussion with the wife, we both agreed this is what we wanted.

The email was was returned accepting the offer and I received a response welcoming me to the team and the onboarding process would kick off on Sunday once the team returns from the weekend.

All this has done is increased the excitement levels.

As you could imagine, the internet is getting well battered with searches relating to everything relating to relocation overseas and Doha.

The children still haven't been told as not doing this until everything is effectively signed and sealed and the process cannot be derailed.


I am still in shock. It has been a long drawn out process and it is amazing just where the time has gone since this all started.

557 days from the first ever contact to the day of accepting the offer...that is 1 year, 6 months and 8 days!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Happy Happy New Year!

Yes, it sure is a Happy Happy New Year!

8th January 2015 and received an email request a telephone chat to discuss some numbers with me. Set up a time and waited for the call which was in a few hours.

While waiting, an email dropped in with a revised offer. I felt an immediate rush of excitement through me and immediately broke this to Mrs A. The offer was exactly what I was wanting or at least it was exactly what I think I was wanting!

The phone call then took place and discussed a few things and confirmed I would have a final sense check of everything, discuss with the wife and get back to them with a final decision yes/no within the next 24 hours.


Friday, 2 January 2015

Merry Christmas Indeed!

Christmas has been and gone, it is now the 28th December 2014 and an email drops in from the company.

They are making me an offer! Woo Hoo!

I responded as requested acknowledging receipt of the offer and said I would get back to them as soon as I had time to digest the numbers etc.

Unfortunately, I couldn't make it work, no matter how I twisted and turned the numbers and considered various options it just wasn't to be.

I replied back to them the next day and explained the situation and what I was really looking for and why. They came back to me and said they would look at this once the compensation team returned from the Christmas and New Year break.

Over the course of New Year I continued to explore all options to see if I could make this offer work while waiting for them to get back to me.

Telephone Interview Number Two

Mid November 2014 - Emailed arrived inviting me to a telephone interview. Agreed a date and time and again waited for the call.

One of the manager phoned at the agreed time and we had a pretty good chat about what was going on and each others backgrounds and a few technical questions. Overall again it felt positive.

A couple of weeks after the telephone interview, I still hadn't heard anything so I dropped an email to the contact in the company.

He replied that he was now focusing on other areas of the business and one of his colleagues is now looking after this and wished me all the best bringing the process to a conclusion.


Five Months Later.

Mid October 2014, five months after the last email communication. An email drops in from the company basically asking if I am still interested in pursuing a position with them given it has been a while since we had last communicated.

Of course I was, and replied back to them, they responded that they were needing some people for Q1 2015.

A week later I received another email saying they required a fresh copy of my CV as the one they had on file was corrupt, sent this off and waited.

Round 2 Begins.

It is now early May 2014 and a job advert appears for the positions which I believed related to the discussions at the last telephone call.

I made contact with the company and confirmed whether I needed to re-apply via their online portal or my application would be automatically initiated given recent conversations.

They confirmed no further action was required and they would be in touch.

And things went quiet.......again.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Close, but not close enough.

After a few days, I sent a follow up email again thanking the team for the opportunity to go over for the interview in Qatar and also to request feedback on how the interview itself went.

They replied requesting a phone to discuss and suitable time agreed, I can't remember the exact date but it was around mid April 2014, a couple of weeks after the face to face interview.

Well it was bad news, although the interview itself went without hitch, I was unsuccessful  in obtaining a position for various understandable reasons, which I will not go into here.

However, the door was far from closed. They felt that opportunities should be arising in the near future for the role I am currently in and would like to keep the communications open as they do see me as a strong contender for these potential positions.

Well time will tell.


Face to Face Interview.

A few days after the telephone interview, I composed an email to the recruitment team to pass on my thanks etc.

I had an almost immediate reply stating that one of the team would be in touch to make arrangements for a face to face interview in Qatar!

I was absolutely delighted, even if it didn't go past the face to face stage, the experience of whole process and the opportunity to spend even just a few brief hours over in a country I had never been to would have been worth it.

Things were moving and they were moving quick....

A few emails were exchanged to agree dates times, flights. Copies of Passports and qualifications were sent. And the flight bookings, travel visa, hotel booking and interview arrangement were received.

Trust me, I was now buzzing.......

I had spent the last couple of weeks going over all the company literature, researching the field, going over my own history and all the human resource type questions.

I arrived at Aberdeen Airport, caught a flight across to Frankfurt for the connection, changed some money to Qatar Riyals just in case and then jumped on the flight to Doha.

I arrived just after 8pm local time, and I will never forget that moment of stepping off the plane and feeling the warmth in the evening and the smell of sand dust in the air. Going into the airport and passing through the immigration and security, I was very nervous and not sure of what to expect at all. In the arrival hall, I got speaking to a couple of other British lads while waiting for the luggage and they had told me there was a strike from midnight by Lufthansa for 3 days. Great, guess who I was flying home on! Guess will have to sort that out tomorrow when I get to the interview.

Coming out of  arrival hall I followed my instruction and went to the hotels arrival desk in the airport. There was a car waiting for me to whisk me off to the hotel.

Arriving at the hotel, I was checked in. The driver, the hotel staff were all friendly and no issues. Signed the usual check-in card and also a chit to authorise the company to pay the driver who took me over.

Went up to room and looked out the window over the city. I was staying at the Radison-Blu the room was as expected. Clean, fresh and perfectly adequate for a couple of nights.

By now, I was tired, thirsty and hungry. Before I did anything else, I unpacked my bag, hung up my suit and ironed my shirt. I then spent a hour just going over my notes, cv, letter, literature etc.   I really should get some sleep, but the mind was racing. I looked at the hotel literature and there was a list of all the bars and restaurants in the hotel.

I decided that I would go down to the Sports bar and have a pint to relax myself and help get a good nights sleep. Down to the 1st floor i head, and round the corner to be met by a massive chap sat at a desk speaking to someone. Now, not knowing what is what, I walked past him towards the bar entrance. I then heard him calling/shouting at me, turns out I had to show me room number and sign the book to go in. Lesson learned!

Through into the bar I went and it was absolutely buzzing. Up to the bar I went and sat down, There were 3 large screens showing different football matches and the atmosphere was electric. I ordered a pint of beer and much to my surprise it wasn't really anymore expensive than a hotel price in the UK. The first pint went down too easy. It had been a long day and was very welcome. Ordering up a second it was now getting on, about 10.30pm or so. I took a bit more time over this one and just soaked up the atmosphere and did a lot of people watching round the room. Finished the pint and headed back to the room. I could have stayed till closing time easily, but not with an interview the next day/in about 10 hours!

I was surprised how easily I fell asleep and woke a couple of hours before the alarm. I got up, has a soak in the bath, started to get dressed etc. By now the realisation of what was away to happen was kicking in. I couldn't face breakfast and just wanted to sip water...nerves had started.

The interview was due to start at 11am and I was advised to allow 30-45 minutes to get to the companies office as traffic is horrendous. At 10am I went down to the reception and they organised the transport, headed over to the HQ. traffic was manic, but was moving freely, sitting in the back of the car there were a few breathe in moments and certainly the roundabouts featured a sort of 'ready, aim, fire' approach to getting out onto and around them!

April 1st 2014, yes, April Fools day - What a day to have an interview! What was even more coincidental was it was April 1st 2003 when I was last in the employment of BP before we were TUPE'd across to Apache when they acquired the Forties Field. Was this a sign?

Arriving at the office I was way too early. The traffic had been quicker than expected. I went to the reception desk, got a visitors pass and then said I would just wait as not in any rush. Sitting back and reading the various publications in the waiting area and helping myself to water. The buildings aircon was certainly working and it was starting to heat up outside. Watching the comings and goings of the staff, security and couriers etc. was interesting and seeing how they all interact gave a relaxed view of things.

My contact arrived about 10:50am and we headed up to the interview. She was most shocked when I had told her she need to arrange alternate flights due the strike. She wasn't aware of this and she was a little bit of a panic and said she would get straight onto it.

Now, I wasn't in too much of a hurry to leave the country, but I had a skiing holiday in a few days and needed to get home to catch that flights!

We get up to one of the higher floors in the building and the first part of the interview was due to start. It was an hour with the director. The view from his office was amazing, but that was not what i was there for, so time to focus! The hour flew in and was a solid back and forth chat for the full duration. This was followed by the repeat of the online assessments. I then had another hour with another manager and the HR business partner. Finally another session with the HR recruitment partner. All in all it was about 3.5 to 4 hrs of solid intense activity. My mind was scrambled. The HR administrator had arranged alternate flights that left that evening so my visit had been cut short, but meant I could get back to the UK in time to head out to France to go skiing.

Reception arranged a car back to the hotel and it duly arrived. Back at the hotel, I chilled out in the bath, the bar was calling my name, but wasn't open for a couple of hours, so flicked on the telly, looked at the Doha guide etc. then headed down to the bar. Sadly there wasn't enough time to go out and explore given the changes to the flights. I had a couple of pints and a cracking baskets of chicken goujons and fries. Picking up my bags I checked out, the hotel arranged a car back to the airport.

The airport was still the old one, the new one wasn't opening for a few months. On arrival had to wait about 1 hour for the checkin desk to open, then once checked in, headed to the security gates. It wasn't too busy and the queue steadily moved forward, then the first weird thing happened. I was standing about 5th or 6th in line and the guy in front of me suddenly put his bag down on the floor, ducked under the rope snake barriers and vanished off into the check-in hall. None of the security noticed this. A few of the other travellers did and started to have worried faces. What should I do? the queue shuffled forward and the bag was given a wide berth, all I wanted was for the queue to get a move on so I could get through the security check and into departure hall. I'm now just passed the bag, and suddenly the guy comes back, forces his way through the queue, picks up his bag then proceed to continue to barge past back into the position he was in before fleeing. I didn't care he was barge in, I'm just glad he returned and picked up his bag, gave me some comfort knowing it wasn't something dodgy if you know what I mean.

There were duty free areas in various places and I bought some small gifts for the kids. There were no issues getting through the airport, just a bit of time people watching waiting for the gate to open.

The flight stopped off at Bahrain to let some off and pick some up, and the local customs boarded for a passenger check then we were on our way again. The plane was pretty empty which surprised me considering there was the strike on by Lufthansa.

Arrived in Heathrow to catch the connection to Aberdeen and passing through the security check they didn't like the Qatar snow globes I had, because they had liquid in them, these then had to be checked into the hold, it was a pretty painless process and they had a dedicated desk that handled this use case so everything went smooth.

Caught the connection Aberdeen and I was home. The next day was packing for skiing and then off again.

Scotland, England, Germany, Qatar, Bahrain, Switzerland, France all in a few days!

The skiing certainly took my mind off things while once again waited for the next outcome.

The Telephone Interview.

The day after completing the online tests I received an email inviting me to a telephone interview.

Things are getting serious now. After a few emails to arrange a suitable date and time agreeable to both parties the date was sent.

Over the following few days, I was into self-reflection mode.

Who was I, what do I do, what am I all about and thinking about all the potential questions they may ask.

The day arrives Sunday 9th March 2014, yes they run their work week Sunday to Thursday, something that would have to get use to if it happens!

I sat nervously at home waiting for the phone to ring.

'Ring-Ring' This is it, here goes.....panic!

I answer......'Hello, good morning, David speaking.' - it was the Ops Director at the other end......full nerves kicked in.

The conversation was brief, approximately 20ish minutes of a 1 hour allocated time slot.

It felt good, there were no uncomfortable silences, it had good flow.....had I said the right things, did I mess up anything, it felt positive and I don't recall picking anything negative that might have suggested I had messed up.

Time will tell!

The Online Test.

That was quick, only a few days later I received an email saying that following review of my application, the company would like to proceed to the next stage of the recruitment process.

23rd February 2014 and I received login details to complete an online set of cognitive tests. These would be completed twice, the first time online and the second time in Qatar if I was successful at getting to the face to face interview stage.

The test covered the usual cognitive tests featuring the similar shapes and word associations etc. and had to completed as many questions (out of 50) in 12 minutes. There was also two sets of 50 words and had to pick in the first list any words how I saw myself, and in the 2nd list how I thought others perceived me.

I had done several types of these over the years, in fact they featured in my initial assessment for the apprenticeship 25 years earlier! They had also featured during the various leadership courses over the years.

Tests done and time to wait again...


The Formal Application.

No, your eyes are not mistaken, that subject does say "The Application", and yes, so do the last post!

Christmas and New Year are now well behind us. In fact, it is now 17th February 2014 and I am looking at another email via LinkedIn from an internal recruiter at the company I have already applies for. The old one has left and new chap has taken over.

They have decided to start the recruitment process again following the organisation restructure. The company director had my CV and wants to follow up with me to see if I'm still interested etc.

A couple of days later I was request to initiate the processes formally by applying via an online application form at the company.

After a small amendment to the CV and Application Letter to take account of a location change on my own current status, the application was submitted.

The automated acknowledgement was received with the expected "your application is being reviewed" statements.
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It is getting exciting now! I think I have gone from 'dipping a toe in the water' to 'where is this going'
!


The Application.

I hadn't really been actively looking for a job, I was merely watching what was going on in the market. I hadn't applied for anything and there was nothing that really shouted out at me.

In reality, I had never been on the open market looking for a career change or a new job etc. so no idea what was involved or what the interviews or processes were like.

Then one day I received an email from a recruiter that was looking to fill a position in Qatar. It was the 1st July 2013. 

Now, I still don't know what exactly it was that made me sit up and go "ok, it is time to stick a toe in the water.", but that is exactly what I did.

I replied back to the recruiter, then engaged in some conversation, obtained the candidate brief and wrote up a new CV with all the changes over the 10+ years and a cover letter to fit the role. 

At this stage I still felt that this was just a test of the market, to get a feel of how things were being done. Remember, this was all new to me!

The first confusion started on the 23rd July 2013 when I had another email from an internal recruiter who was directly representing the client, and yes, they were looking for the same role to be filled.

Anyway, it is now 26th July 2013 and I had just sent my application to the recruiter #1.

Some further communication over the following days with internal recruiter (#2) and they were to check the application had been received, if not they would pick this up directly and to send my application to them as well.

Got a feeling that there was some sort of 'recruiter politics' involved, but hey ho, nothing to do with me and as long as the application ended up in the right hands I was happy!

It was now approaching the end of August 2013 and the trail went cold and quiet. Apparently, there was some internal re-organisation going on and the recruitment was on hold.

In the meantime, I just kept watching the market and reviewing all the various connection requests and emails as the industry was very much alive. Singapore, New Zealand, Brazil....almost daily there is something dropping in the box.

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and winter arrives
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On your marks, get set...............go!

And this is where it all begins!

Me, lived in Aberdeen all my life. The oil industry featured heavily in the city and sometime in the early 80's I had decided that is what I wanted to do with my life. 

And then it began.........

I joined the oil industry in 1989. 28th August to be exact! Fresh faced, straight from school and into an apprenticeship scheme called SETTS (Shell Exploration Technician Training Scheme). I was employed by BP and the scheme had both Shell and BP technicians on it. Having been through the various stages of assessment and interview for both Shell and BP after having applied for both it felt like months of torment to just get out of the starting gate!

Spending the first couple of years in Aberdeen UK, covering a multi-discipline curriculum, then in year 3 specialising in the instrumentation and control side of things. Year 3 was based out of Billingham UK, and spent a few weeks there followed by a few weeks 'on-site' at various locations around the UK. During this 3rd year I had the joys of TIES at Billingham, Spectra-Tek at Malton, British Gas terminal at Barrow-in-Furness and Texaco Refinery at Pembroke. Year 4 is where is all starts to really happen. The offshore adventure begins, 6th November 1992!

Over the next 21 years I spent my working life across the various platforms in the Forties Field, and laterly up in the Beryl Field.

I progressed through the ranks and covered various roles all the way from an apprentice up to the Offshore Installation Manager, with the various operations/maintenance/project supervisor roles  in between and also included a 3 year stint onshore in various roles from onshore support to project manager.

Safe to say it was a very healthy grounding in the industry!

At some point early on in my career I had always considered going overseas, but it never felt the right time. A new project or a promotion and then kicking off a degree and having family always seemed to change my thought processes. I had made my mind up that I was still going to do it and as the family aged and career was well established things were starting to feel right to go for it.

So here we are the start of the overseas journey and hopefully this blog will capture how this story unfolds along the way. No idea how this will turn out.

One thing is for sure........it will be an adventure!

Stay tuned.