What recommends you for this role?
With more than 30 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, I have played a variety of key roles in the delivery of a wide-range of commercial arrangements and technical projects in different geographies and cultures. My previous roles have included responsibilities comparable in magnitude, complexity and speed of development and I would hope these assignments have prepared me well for this new position leading the TAP project as it enters the “build” phase.
What drew you to TAP?
TAP is a project of significant social importance not only for the people of Europe, for whom it will deliver material diversity of gas supply, but also for the producer nation, Azerbaijan, and the TAP, TANAP and SCP transit countries: Italy, Albania, Greece, Turkey and Georgia. TAP is therefore a vital link in a complex and strategic value chain which will make a crucial contribution to securing and diversifying Europe’s energy future. It will bring new sources of gas to Europe, boost competition in several markets, and open a new route that will also benefit countries in South Eastern Europe.
TAP is also a multifaceted and multi-cultural challenge and such complex and intricate mandates have always appealed to me.
What are your objectives in the new role?
My first and foremost objective is to build on all the excellent work that Kjetil has led to date and maintain momentum so that we can safely deliver a pipeline in compliance with the legal and regulatory frameworks of the relevant host countries, of operational integrity compatible with all relevant international technical standards, within a budget agreed with our shareholders, and which will be ready to safely receive and transport first gas from Shah Deniz II in 2020. As the project gears up in this construction phase, I consider it imperative that we work closely with and enhance our already good relationships and alliances with local and regional stakeholders as well as streamline operations on the ground together with our EPC contractors and sub-contractors, ensuring a safe, efficient and effective start-up.
Tell us more about your short-term priorities.
Following a very comprehensive and solid handover with Kjetil, whom I would like to personally thank, I will first be meeting with all departments, learning about their successes as well as their current challenges, and getting to know the TAP team.
I also plan to meet our teams in all our key locations, and will visit each of our country headquarters within my first 60 days in the role. For me now, the priority is to focus on successfully using every minute of this year to ensure that we prepare the ground for a safe start of construction of the main pipeline project in 2016. This will mean having all the critical elements in place in terms of permits and approvals, technical assurance of all our plans, long-lead items procured, and our major construction contracts in place.
In addition, we will need to finish some critical ancillary and preparatory contracts such as the completion of the Albanian roads and bridges that we need to build or reinforce this year. Thereafter, we will need to gear-up to bring on board many vital contractors and sub-contractors that will work with us on the TAP project, ensuring that they are trained and are able to meet TAP’s standards on health, safety and compliance across the entire project.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge?
To ensure that I and the whole of the TAP leadership team constantly assure ourselves that, across the entirety of the project, we have active processes in place to identify all possible risks and opportunities.
For each significant risk we need to speedily ensure that we have adequate and acceptable mitigation measures in place, first of all to maintain our legal and regulatory responsibilities to society in general but in addition to make sure that our staff, contractors, and sub-contractors remain safe and healthy throughout all our project phases.
We also need to ensure that we examine each and every opportunity, and any lessons learned along the way, to avoid any complacency in our work practices and to seek out and implement any technical and commercial improvements to our activities.
Do you have a recipe for success?
I am not sure if it is a recipe, and if you have ever sampled my cooking you might appreciate why I am slightly uncomfortable with that metaphor, but I think as a leader there are five huge responsibilities I have towards our team.
First of all, the vision has to be clear, not just the high-level vision, but the clarity of purpose aims and objectives of each department and sub-team.
Secondly, I have a tremendous obligation to the team to ensure that vision is communicated to everyone clearly and repeatedly to ensure that we all stay together and on track.
Thirdly, as leaders we have to responsibly build all the necessary coalitions and alliances in our host countries and with our contractors and sub-contractors, as well as all other partners internationally that are needed to safely deliver our project.
Next, I need to make sure that we all stay motivated to focus on safe delivery and hopefully inspire people to strive for constant quality improvements.
Finally, if I can also help to identify and develop more leaders along the way, then I will be happy to have fulfilled my leadership responsibilities. So, if you want to call it a recipe I guess the ingredients are: Vision, Communication, Alliances & Coalitions, Inspire & Motivate, while Building More Leaders.
In addition to these leadership challenges, there are also a few critical areas of general management that as a team we have to get right and, wherever feasible, streamline. Not least of these is the need to constantly assess how we are doing against our plans and forecasts, including focussing on the right priorities while factoring in our limitations. Experience has taught me the value of effectively managing, tracking, measuring and constantly challenging our progress and I will hold myself and our leadership team faithful to this credo.
Do you have a message for TAP’s stakeholders?
TAP will continue to hold dear its commitments to the environment and the local community, as well as health and safety. We remain committed to acting transparently, responsibly and efficiently in building a safe pipeline that will serve markets for decades to come.
In your new role, what excites you the most?
First of all, getting to work with a talented team that has already proven its commitment in the planning, permitting and development phases of TAP. Also, getting to know our key stakeholders across all of our operations in Greece, Italy and Albania; to understand their energy in support of TAP and any concerns they may have about the way in which we will have to fulfil our responsibilities in the exciting “build” phase.