5 Questions – Paul Duncan Survey Client Representative

Why did you choose to pursue a career in this industry?

“I pursued a career in the offshore sector due to the interesting and varied projects that I knew I would be involved in. My career has opened doors on a worldwide basis enabling me to travel and see parts of the world others perhaps would not visit. The department I graduated from at the University of Glasgow had a 100% employment record in terms of placing graduates and I had a number of offers before I sat my finals, which was encouraging. So the beginning of my career was pretty quick after University. My main interest was traditional land survey techniques and mapping science.”

What has been the most memorable experience of your career?

“There have been many and most are inshore surveys with added challenges. The most exciting project I have worked on was acting as Survey Client Representative around Orkney in Scotland for a renewable energy client. I was tasked with overseeing the survey from a health and safety aspect and survey data quality. The currents around the islands were terrific at times, the landscape stunning and the seabed data very interesting. Timing was everything on that project due to the unique local behaviour of the water. 

“In terms of my most memorable experience, again, in eighteen years of working in the industry, there have been many, both good and bad. However, one never gets bored with the beautiful sunsets across the oceans and being right up close and inside 500m zones of some offshore platforms, it’s really impressive.”

Since the Market is currently in a decline do you think it’s important for personnel to diversify?

“Regardless of the current industry climate, I think it's always important to diversify a little and keep abreast of latest technological advances in offshore survey techniques. If you are able to cross between a few roles offshore then this can only be a good thing in the current market.

“Having worked offshore as a Hydrographic Surveyor, Data Processor, Party Chief and nowadays a Survey Client Representative, the role essentially gets challenging when things go wrong! As a Survey Rep I am more of an observer overseeing the project. Being a Party Chief when the survey equipment goes down and the client is asking questions and the time is ticking away can be a bit stressful!

“Most of my work of late has been within the offshore renewables sector and this is where I believe most of the interesting projects can be found. For this reason I invested in a GWO Certification which seems to be required by more and more offshore wind farm developers. I recently attended the Subsea Expo exhibition and there is no denying that we are in a challenging time at the moment and it was the topic of conversation for most.”

What mindset do you think you need to have to work offshore?

“Well, you need to understand that offshore plans can change. Being flexible is important and having the ability to spend extended periods of time away and subsequent inability to often plan ahead. It's probably not for everyone but there is no denying that it can be very interesting and rewarding.”

What has been your experience working through Atlas?

“So far my personal experience with Atlas has been good. When they have been involved in sourcing me work, the contacts I have at the Newquay office have been knowledgeable and kept me informed of what projects may be of interest to me.”