"I made the move" Interview 3 - Darren McILVenny
Job title: Electrical Engineering Supervisor/Technician [HV-AEP Isolating Authority]
Years of exp: 35
Sectors I have experience in: Offshore & Onshore Oil and Gas, Power Generation, Distribution and Commissioning, HV & Lv Switchgear, Protection and Safety Systems, QA/QC, CMMS Auditor and Super user, CompEx, CSCS, IOSH & NEBOSH Qualified, Various types of Electronic PTW Systems.
NVQ Level 3 in Electrical Maintenance, SQA Qualified Assessor E & I, SMTD Level 5, ECS Inspection & Testing SQA Level 7, Member of IET@ TMIET.
1. Can you tell me more about the challenges you have faced when attempting to transition to other energy sectors?
The main problems that are faced are the constant requirement by the recruiter or the employer, which require an individual that has been working within the sector for an exceptional amount of time, especially within renewable energy. Seeing as this industry is still in its infancy when compared to the oil and gas industry, then it would leave only a few skilled persons that fit this requirement. Other skills that are required can be extracted from the professional’s normal working activities or qualifications. Depending on the recruiter or the employer these transitional skills may not always be apparent or just ignored as they cannot see the underlining ability, this, however, is true with most job applications.
2. Would you advise other professionals to do the same?
This question depends on so many factors, one's ambition in life, your finances, your family situation. The bottom line is, that if you have a strong desire to make a difference, you believe that changes are possible and that those changes are for the best, then the answer would be a definite yes!
All dreams are possible if you believe in them enough.
The oil and gas industry has suffered a lot over the past few years. The days of high barrel prices have gone and those that believe they will reach the old heights of the fun days are in denial. As more oil floods the markets from Iran and other regions, the markets that are already saturated will continue to be so.
Most of us have now seen the devastation of the above though job loses, staff cutbacks, financial benefit lose etc.
Major companies have reevaluated their expenditure so that they can survive - this does not mean that you will!
Each year now at the Renewable Energy Summit and exhibitions, I see more and more oil and gas companies that have bought into Renewable Engineering manufacturing companies. Their stands may have been small at the beginning, but are slowly getting bigger each year. What does this tell us?
3. What do you think can hold a professional like yourself back from successfully transitioning?
I believe that the only hold back for any professional would be the fear of the unknown, the person’s own self-motivation and possible lack of confidence.
4. In your experience, what may give a professional a significant advantage when moving sectors?
Their past knowledge and experience which seems to me to be what most employers and recruiters unfortunately ignore.
Management skills, engineering skills etc. can all be diversified. We often move from company to company, and with each one, we learn their way of doing the job and therefore gain the required skills to carry out a specific task in the manner that they want us to. With each role you will be expected to have a minimum foundation of knowledge, this is what got you through the door. Now you build on that through their company policies, training and specific requirements.
5. Will you continue to try and make the move?
Absolutely! I have my heart set on it now, and nothing will stop me.
I have a family and two young children to consider so I have to balance everything up which including my ongoing studies in Engineering. At present, I am completing a degree in Instrumentation, and then I will start an MSc in Renewable Technologies, I am also slowly working towards my CEng.
All of this is helping me to get where I need to be in Renewables.
I have also joined various groups and training seminars to help me get introduced to the right people within the industry, and all of them have been a great help.
6. Which sector is most appealing to you and why? i.e. Oil & Gas or Power Gen.
My sector would have to be the Power Generation industry.
Reasons being are that the oil and gas industry is an archaic system that I have loved and lived.
Times have changed, and my attitude has changed with it, I have seen the damage and the greed, the good and the bad.
I now want to use my skills to do something else that I will enjoy and again wake up feeling like everything is worth it.
More and more doors are opening within the Renewable industry now as it gets bigger and bigger. Prices are also dropping in the technologies, so more people can afford domestic setup and therefore more work will become available.
7. Which region is most appealing to you and why? i.e. Europe or North America.
At this point, and out of the options given, I would choose Europe.
Europe is a central point now for renewables and the push to succeed is there. In comparison to North America, the push for clean energy has been dampened by the now Trump administration, who only believe in fossil fuels and who are constantly trying to stop or remove any incentives for green energy.
My personal choice will be Africa as they truly are pushing for changes and in remote areas it is the only solution to their problems.
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