E&I has proven an area of significant growth within the SMS service portfolio. We have taken this as an opportunity to speak to Neil Pickess, E&I Sales Manager at SMS, about his experience, the necessity of global availability as well as some of the opportunities and challenges E&I faces.
Neil, can you first of all briefly introduce yourself to the readers of our blog please.
My name is Neil Pickess and I have been working as E&I Sales Manager for SMS for the last 9 months. I started my career as an Electrical Apprentice at LEC Marine Group in Lowestoft when I was a spotty 16-year-old, and went on to work for them for a total of 15 years. My projects during this time included a variety of oil and gas sites as well as many waste water treatment projects. Before joining SMS, I worked on the Shell Bacton Rejuvenation Project as a Completions Engineer.
You have now been with SMS for almost a year – what are your impressions so far? And what is 2019 going to bring for you?
For our E&I Department the year 2018 was mainly about keeping existing customers on board, introducing myself and really understanding their requirements and how SMS can help them. This year will be about adding new clients to our ever-growing E&I portfolio, and introducing them to what SMS are capable of.
For those who don’t know what E&I is all about, can you give us a quick intro to the topic as well as SMS' capabilities?
Short for Electrical and Instrumentation, the E&I Department occupies an important part of the SMS business mould. We have assembled an experienced electrical installation team able to meet the demands of clients old and new. Our capabilities include hazardous area ATEX inspections, manufacture of control panels and LV Switchboards as well as commissioning and decommissioning, to name but a few.
We have also competed projects on high voltage equipment, and hold HV jointing and HV termination capabilities within the team.
What do you think are the reasons behind the growth in our E&I arm of the business?
In my opinion, the main reason would be our proven ability to adapt and diversify a lot quicker than most of our competitors, which is bound to become increasingly crucial in this very competitive market. Our response times are unparalleled, and we have repeatedly received positive customer feedback highlighting our agility even in challenging circumstances.
What are some of the challenges E&I faces?
It is no secret that the offshore energy industry has witnessed some rather challenging times over the last few years due to the reduced price of oil. Being prepared to adapt and re-educate ourselves has been key to survival. We have for instance shown a great level of proactivity in other energy sectors, which I feel has been successful - this will no doubt help us to move forward in the future.
Previous contracts have taken our E&I Engineers to Kenya, Brunei and beyond – how important is the global availability of our engineers to customers?
We are very lucky that our Engineers know the importance of being diverse and being available 24/7, 365 days of the year at the drop of a hat. They completely stand behind the SMS ethos to always put the customer first, and understand that their satisfaction is key. For clients, this readiness on our part gives them the added confidence that we can support and deliver their projects at any time and in any country – you just name it.
What do you love most about your job? What can be challenging?
I enjoy how every day is different, and I love engaging with new prospective clients and introducing them to what SMS is all about. The challenge is that you never know what problems you might come up against – but that is also what makes it fun, it keeps us on our toes. It is all about finding the right solution for the customer.
What do you think will be the next big thing in E&I?
We are finding that hazardous area ATEX inspections are a big issue for many companies - many don’t know how to address the issue but need a solution provider. With SMS’ finely developed Inspection Manager - a mobile application used by our inspectors on site for a more efficient and faster service - it makes for a perfect fit. With present contracts in the offshore energy industry, the next area to open up more will very likely be the onshore market.
Finally, when you are not out selling E&I Services, what do you like to do in your free time?
I know it sounds cliché, but I love spending time with my family. Weekends are precious, so I like to cram in as much with my wife and my three children as I possibly can.
Like everybody else I am looking forward to the summer, and I will again spend lots of time with family and friends in the back garden, having a few glasses of wine and chargrilling the food on the BBQ. I don’t think life gets any better than that.