Leading Add Energy’s Asset and Integrity Management division from its HQ in Aberdeen, Peter Adam, Add Energy’s Executive Vice President, has found 2020 a challenging, yet insightful year that brought his team closer together despite working further apart than ever before.
With a future focus on technological innovation to deliver operational excellence, the interface between data and people has been and remains a key priority for Add Energy and Peter is eager to deliver on the opportunities awaiting the business in 2021.
In this interview, which forms part of our ‘The Big Picture: leading our team into the future’ series, Peter reflects back on lessons learned from 2020, shares inspiring insights, and hones in on how success can be achieved beyond the pandemic.
How would you sum up the past 12 months in business?
"We anticipated 2020 to be our highest growth year ever, following on from last year’s successes and our Queen’s Award, but with Covid-19, our main objective was survival. Across the globe businesses were faced with mass uncertainty, and had to adapt very quickly and dynamically - including Add Energy.
"What we’ve managed to do is keep our people in jobs, and come out of 2020 stronger, with a positive outlook for 2021 and a focus on deeper relationships with our clients, international partnerships and digital solutions, which will form part of our plans for the next year and beyond."
How would you describe the past year in one sentence?
"2020 has been like kicking a man whilst he's down for the energy sector, a sector which is critical to everybody's being - keeping our home warm and the lights on. But like the Japanese proverb: "Nana korobi ya oki" meaning fall down 7 times and get up eight.
"Although circumstances were abrupt and unplanned, it has been somewhat refreshing to be pushed into exploring new ways of working, identifying new efficiencies, and seeing the world of work from new perspectives."
What positives can you take away from 2020?
"We achieved our highest levels of productivity to date, which is a massive win considering our full team was working from home. This has given us a fantastic insight into the ability of our people to work autonomously, and we’ll be factoring this into ways of working going forward. I’m extremely proud of our people in this respect.
"Our Canadian office launched last November, and this year it has grown from strength to strength, winning projects across North America totalling almost $2.9m.
"We also saw clients make efficiency a high priority with renewed vigor, striving to make their businesses more streamlined in order to survive low oil prices and the current pandemic. If we believe low oil prices will continue for some time, being efficient is going to be critical in this sector, and this is something we specialize in."
What do you believe was the key to your success throughout 2020?
"The resilience of our people was absolutely paramount to our success. Everyone in our team displayed a can-do attitude, which is fundamental during times of uncertainty. This positivity, determination, and perseverance resulted in some of our best results to date.
"We shifted to home working within one week, straight after moving into our brand new head office in Aberdeen. We hadn’t even unpacked all the boxes, yet we were able to pivot and move to work from home within days. Our “dry run” became our permanent fixture, and I was impressed at how efficient this process was."
What has been your personal highlight this year?
"We identified several strategic partnerships and representatives across the world, and this has been a real highlight for me. These are partnerships, I believe, will benefit the business in the long-run.
"Through these partners, we have been able perform overseas work throughout the whole of 2020 without having to leave our homes - and we’re delighted that even with business travel restricted, we have achieved so much. I would, however, still love to have face-to-face time in-country with our clients and partners."
What opportunities do you think will emerge in 2021?
"The drive will be on technology and digital solutions, and data will be the fuel powering these innovations and developments.
"At Add Energy, we have been working hard to create interfaces between people and data, to enable reliable and agile decision making processes. That’s what has been lacking to date.
"The cloud-based software solutions we have developed, and are continuing to create, help us to collaborate and deliver operational excellence for our clients across the globe - and we’re excited to continue our R&D work into 2021 and beyond.
"2021 will also be a year of catching up for many companies who delayed or deferred work due to the circumstances of 2020. So we are expecting it to be a busy year!"
What will be fundamental to succeed and grow in 2021?
"With the demand for services and software expected to increase exponentially in 2021, a strategic consideration must be around people.
"Companies across industries have lost team members due to the economic impact of Covid-19 - whether that’s due to cutting their workforce, early retirement, or career changes. The result is a shortage of strong technical people, and a wealth of knowledge built up over decades lost with these people exiting the business.
"Diversifying your workforce, and bringing in new skills, experiences and perspectives is important, and this is something we will be focusing on in 2021.
"Training and development is also critical next year, to ensure competency, enhance and grow your team, and enable steady growth that doesn’t compromise the quality of work.
"We’re lucky to have a lot of incredible technical people at Add Energy, and continuing to grow that pool to the same standard is going to be a challenge."
What are your team’s goals for 2021?
"To continue our growth, expanding our portfolio of services and industries we work in. We will also be focusing on digital and technological delivery for our clients.
"We are already working with clients in oil and gas, power generation and marine, and envisage future work in utilities, infrastructure, and manufacturing.
"We will also have a number of new product releases in 2021, as well as new partnerships and new locations. We could also be launching our joint digital innovation lab in collaboration with a UK university. So the year is shaping up to be an exciting one!"
What are you most looking forward to in business next year?
"I’m looking forward to getting back out into the world, meeting clients and partners face-to-face, and building our relationships.
"I’m also excited to continue to be part of a unified global team. Add Energy started many years ago as a collection of individual consultancy businesses, but we now operate as one team. This year in particular, the collaboration has been fantastic - from business development and marketing, to operations and technology. We are all interlinked in a much stronger way, and this is part of our growth plans for 2021 - bringing our asset and integrity management, drilling and wells, and safety and risk solutions together."