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Landmark anniversary gives Strategic Resources chance to reflect on changing face of the industry

Landmark anniversary gives Strategic Resources chance to reflect on changing face of the industry


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15 December 2017

As 2017 draws to a close and another year brings renewed optimism, Strategic Resources reflect on the challenges they have faced and overcome across the industry over the past 12 months. Shonah Raffan, managing director of Strategic Resources, looks to the future:

It appears the picture looks brighter than it has done for some time – with a mix of new and established players reaping the benefits of innovation and adopting new technology; not to mention internationalising and expanding into overseas markets.

Despite this, we cannot ignore the fact that many businesses continue to face testing times; it’s hoped that spring will bring more concrete signs of recovery.

Strategic Resources is perhaps better placed than most to comment on the state of the industry today, given the recent celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary – and the numerous highs and lows experienced over that period.

When I first joined the company in May 1988, before being named managing director in 1996, there was a very different outlook for the North Sea from where we are today.



The Strategic Resources team: [L-R] Rebecca Stirling; Brian Robertson; Vicky Main; Gary Gray; Karen Watson; Shonah Raffan; Clarice Martins; Jan Kriel; and, Linda Ross.

The subsea industry, particularly subsea construction, was buoyant when I was a recruitment consultant. We had many subsea contractors working through Strategic Resources as project engineers and design engineers; we also placed many candidates in staff positions. It is very satisfying to see those same people in very senior roles now.

Having been at Strategic Resources for nearly thirty years, I have seen subsea companies change names many times, or merge to form large organisations – resulting in less competition in the marketplace.

Times have changed, and the subsea industry has declined. There are currently few major subsea projects and many of the subsea discipline engineers and support staff have found it extremely tough to find work since 2009. Many of them have either left the oil industry to different types of businesses, transferred their skills to other areas, or have decided to retire.  

Hopefully the market will pick up again, but will there be the expertise and skills there once was to work on new subsea projects?

We have attempted to tackle this head-on by diversifying our own business by broadening our recruitment, contractor management services and the provision of client out-sourced payrolls into non-oil related industries. Change means survival.

Regardless of what has been happening in the wider world, we have always taken great pride in supporting the local community and other good causes. To mark the anniversary, we chose to give something back to three very worthy Aberdeen-based charities: Archway, Children 1st and JDRF.
As well as actively raising vital funds, we took the decision to team up with a city-centre primary school for an art competition focused on the pupils’ future career aspirations.

This has served as an important reminder about the importance of creating pathways into the industry for the next generation, and encouraging them to see a career in oil and gas as a viable, and desirable, goal.

Recruitment and retention of personnel has always been challenging for the oil industry, and traditionally companies have struggled to address this. However, we are seeing an increasing number of organisations, both public and private sector, created to support employability and further skills development – which is to be welcomed.

The biggest difference over the past 30 years – not just in recruitment – has been the ability to contact people, wherever they are, at any time of day. Ultimately, we remain a people business even after three decades in business.

I’m very proud to have several long-serving members of staff working alongside me for many years, and through some tough periods. The way we deliver the service hasn’t changed; technology has benefited us greatly by offering new business opportunities.

Shonah Raffan is managing director of Strategic Resources, a leading provider of skilled personnel to the international oil and gas, subsea and other diverse industries.