Life as an Offshore Client Representative
- Your early career, why Offshore Wind and how did you get into it?
My first 18-years or more were in ROV’s. Starting as a trainee Pilot Technician in 1990, I managed to get to Supervisor by 1994 when I went freelance.
From there I joined cable trenching projects and then progressed to Superintendent and Bridge Supervisor.
My break into a Client Rep (CR) position came by chance when a colleague I had worked with on previous projects recognised me from amongst a pile of CV’s when they were looking for a nightshift CR for TenneT, Germany.
- How long have you been an Offshore Client Representative for?
My first position as CR came in 2008, however, as a freelancer, I still varied my roles between CR, Offshore Manager and Shift Supervisor. Since 2011 though, I’ve mainly been a CR.
- What steps did you have to take to become a Client Representative?
Operational experience is the most important thing a CR needs, however soft skills such as reporting and man management are also important skills to have.
- What does a typical day as a Client Representative look like for you?
A typical working day (normally a 12-hour shift) would start with a handover from the opposite shift, after a coffee at least! There are then several standard tasks to be done, including a review of the vessel/contractor’s Daily Progress Report (DPR) for the day before and attending the vessel’s daily operational meeting.
A close eye is kept on operations, and you hope you can build a good rapport with the vessel team so they would contact you should anything that requires your input or attention arise.
There may also be a daily call to the client onshore, this is generally carried out using Microsoft Teams or similar.
The remainder of the day is spent looking into the operations and ensuring the client’s interests are being maintained and that approved procedures are being followed. On top of that, there are toolbox meetings, safety meetings etc. which are good to get involved in.
- What do you enjoy most about the role?
Every job is different, the people, the vessel, the project. I enjoy it as I have a good base of friends and colleagues who still work offshore too and when you join a vessel you just never know whom you will meet from the past.
Also, seeing a project through to fruition is probably the most satisfying aspect of the job, especially if it’s a large and high-profile project that may even make the news.
- What are some common challenges you may face in the role?
Some don’t like CR’s poking around and looking over their shoulders at what they’re doing; they can feel that you are only obstructing the job. It’s important to get off on the right foot with a project team and let them know you are there to help them to do the job safely and well.
- What is the transfer like?
Transfers to the vessel or platform can take on many forms; helicopter transfer, crew transfer vessels, or everyone’s favourite – the gangway. Probably everyone has a story to tell about a trip on a chopper though. Not my favourite because your baggage weight is restricted which means that you can take fewer “toys” offshore with you.
Comfort on all transfers is mainly down to the weather.
- What’s your room like onboard?
Cabin standards vary between vessels, but generally, CR’s will get to stay in better than a standard cabin, but not always. Cabins can be a shared cabin between the night shift and day shift clients, to multiroom suites with double bunks and separate bedrooms/lounges.
Most quality cabins will also have access to the internet and a TV with basic satellite channels.
- What do you do on your hours off (apart from sleep)?
Well, a normal day is 12-hours for work leaving 12-hours off. This is normally taken up by eating, taking a shower, maybe watching a movie, a visit to the vessel gym or catching some sun on the helideck and then of course sleep.
- Typically, how long are you away offshore for?
Durations at sea can vary a lot, but for practical reasons, 4-6 weeks is thought of as an average typical deployment and gives a good work/life balance.
It’s psychological for me. If I agree to a 5-week trip and that trip turns into 7-weeks, then that last week can be very long because I mentally prepared for a 5-week trip. However there are swings and roundabouts with everything.
- What advice would you give to someone hoping to pursue this role?
Don’t be mistaken on the responsibilities. Our role may just be mainly one of ‘observe and report’ but there is also a lot at stake on high profile projects. If it goes wrong, then it goes wrong for everyone associated with it. Keep contractors honest and away from the temptation to take shortcuts, especially in safety and quality.
- What qualifications and documents are required for this role?
I enrolled in a few courses that I thought were relevant, including gaining my Project Management Professional (PMP), Lead Auditor and my Oil & Gas Client Rep ticket.
You can make the grade without these courses, but I like to feel prepared and informed.
If you’re considering entering into this field of work, take a look at the Offshore Marine People & Academy Offshore Client Representative training course