An Interview with… Principal Director Alastair Robertson
Alastair Robertson founded OSL in 2005 alongside fellow Principal Director Nick Jones. Since then, the company has expanded exponentially in terms of staff force, scope, project size and influence.
As a Fellow of the IChemE, an Energy Institute Council Trustee, and a regular speaker at industry events across the UK, it’s safe to say that Alastair is one of the gas and oil markets’ movers and shakers. In this interview, he explains exactly what makes OSL tick, and how its culture and ethos are helping to change the world of energy.
Can you elaborate on OSL’s commitment to Clever Thinking and how it is applied to projects?
Clever Thinking is the creation of solutions by sharing ideas. It is a culture where we at OSL look to understand the question being asked or the challenge being presented, and consider a number of options that might be possible. Through a structured process, we look to provide the optimum answer to a problem by using our own knowledge and that of our clients and partners.
It doesn't always result in a completely new and groundbreaking idea, but the process validates already accepted solutions. It does ensure that all those involved have a greater understanding of problems and issues, as well as ways in which to counter them.
How do customers benefit from OSL's philosophy and culture?
Our customers benefit from our philosophy because we encourage them to be open-minded, base their decisions on the facts known at the time, and to explore the constraints they have set. We ask relevant questions in a structured way, which focuses our clients on what is important and what can be relaxed to give a wider range of options.
How does OSL approach taking on new staff?
We have a method that starts with retaining the people we already have and allowing them to grow within the business. Giving them a clear career path and structured development plan is fundamental to this approach. We invest our time and are proud to have been recognised by our industry in this respect, such as offering an IChemE Accredited Company Training Scheme.
Bringing new people into the company is essential for our growth and we have a recruitment specialist that looks after the process, from the initial sourcing to agreeing the contract. For graduates, we engage with universities and attend careers events throughout the year. We also involve our young professionals in the recruitment process to give potential candidates the opportunity to talk with their near peers on how it has been for them.
Can OSL do anything to attract the next generation of engineers into the industry?
The short answer is yes we can! We already attend school events to promote a career in energy and engineering, providing advice and guidance on which subjects to choose, or the possible routes to suit each academic profile. We also have a number of registered STEM ambassadors, who help to promote engineering careers. We sponsor A-level students through the Arkwright scholarship scheme; in addition to the funding, we provide them with a structured work experience programme with an assigned mentor.