We are delighted to announce that as of today, the highly experienced industry veteran Lee French is joining SMS as Business Development Manager. Before he goes straight out onto the road doing what he does best, Lee has taken the time to speak to us about himself, the past, present and future of the oil and gas industry, and his upcoming visit to ONS.
Lee, welcome to SMS. We are absolutely delighted to have you on board. Would you mind quickly introducing yourself before we get started?
I have worked in the Oil & Gas industry for over 14 years. During this time, I have been involved in numerous major upstream and downstream projects globally. I have been lucky enough to have worked in many sectors in my career, but my main areas of expertise are Subsea and Topside Instrumentation and Control.
I am married to Joanne and we have 3 children; my daughter Grace aged 13, my other daughter Darcey aged 6, and my son Joshua aged 10.
What made you choose SMS as the next step in your career?
I have been involved with SMS as their Account Manager for 8 years on and off with my previous appointments. I know the company and employees well, and have worked with, and supported SMS on many projects over the years. I have seen SMS continually grow, evolve and adapt over the years with positive results. The quality of products supplied by SMS are second to none, and they continually look at innovative ways to improve and keep ahead of the competition. As a Sales and Business Development Manager I continually strive to improve the sales function and processes by which I do business. From the very initial engagement with SMS regarding this positon it was clear to me that the Senior Management also had the same passion, drive and goals within the Sales discipline, and a vision to take SMS to the next level. Knowing the company and employees also played a big part as I have always found SMS to be a welcoming and pleasant environment to work in.
You have been in the industry for over 14 years – looking back, how has it changed over this time?
The main changes over recent years relate to a focus on more cost effective solutions and ways of doing business. The industry on a whole has become leaner and less wasteful in its approach to projects. Smaller field developments and tie backs are now cost effective, and the industry is more provident than in previous years.
But on a whole the Industry still has what attracted me to it 14 years ago, amazing technology and innovation, and great people to work with.
In your opinion, what does the offshore industry need without having realised it yet?
I wouldn’t be so bold as to assume I have that answer to that question. However, in general the industry needs more companies who are able to offer turnkey solutions. Companies like SMS and the Alderley Group, which can supply multiple scopes of supply and also support this with aftermarket sales support such as Service and Maintenance, Hose Management Services etc. This ability allows for multiple scopes of supply to be awarded to one company which ultimately saves money and time, and helps to maintain synergy across specifications and the life of projects. Suppliers to the Major Oil & Gas companies need to be seen as partners and not just vendors, which will create positive working relationships and ultimately be beneficial for all parties involved.
What’s the most memorable moment within your career to date?
I have had so many memorable moments over the past 14 years. As a Business Development Manager I strive to maximize the potential from major projects and I have enjoyed the successes of winning some major project work with the teams I have worked within. I have been very fortunate within my roles to have visited many different countries and worked with people from many different cultures. This is something that has given me lots of memorable moments and enabled me to create a diverse network of associates, and some lifelong friends.
You most recently concentrated on Specialist Hoses, will your role see you working closely with our guys at SMS-Eastern?
Most definitely. I hope to be engaging with all disciplines and divisions within SMS and the Alderley Group to maximize our exposure within the Oil & Gas sector. When engaging with existing and potential new customers it will be very important to demonstrate the diversity and turnkey capabilities, and also the ability to offer full life of field support.
As someone well versed in everything subsea and offshore, what makes SMS’ (products and/or services) so successful?
The main areas are quality, innovation and the ability to have a flexible approach to doing business. One other major factor as previously stated is the varied and comprehensive scope of supply. SMS also have some new and innovative designs which offer technical advantages and cost savings to the customer. This coupled with the new state of the art facilities make for a bright and positive future for SMS.
ONS in Norway from 27 – 30 August will be your first official outing in your new role at SMS. What are your objectives for the show and what makes it such a good platform?
My main objective is to meet with some existing and new customers to introduce myself as the new Business Development Manager. The other main objective will be to gain some real time project updates for current and future Norwegian Projects, which I am currently tracking and mapping. ONS brings together all the major companies within Norway, which makes it easier to engage with them over a short space of time. The Oil & Gas industry within Norway is spread quite wide, and it can take time to travel around Norway to conduct face-to-face meetings. ONS provides a great platform to be able to meet a multitude of people in one place, and it is always well attended.
What are you looking forward to the most in your new role at SMS?
I am looking forward to working with great colleagues, some of whom I have known for many years, and ultimately making a positive difference. I hope I can bring some new ideas and dynamics to SMS, and also learn some new skills myself, which will further develop my career. Working for any company should always be a two way street, where both parties can learn from each other, which in turn strengthens both the individual and the company.
If you’re not out on the road visiting existing and prospective clients, how do you spend your free time?
With being on the road quite a lot, I always try and focus my free time around the family - it’s important to get the work-life balance right. But if I do manage to get some ‘me time’ I enjoy going to the gym, swimming and playing a little golf. I am also an FA qualified football coach, and I help to train and manage my son’s football team.