Based in the Houston office, Susan Steyn, Add Energy’s Vice President of North America, led her team through another year of uncertainty and challenges.
In this interview, which forms part of our ‘The Big Picture: leading our team into the future’ series, Susan reflects on her team’s highlights of 2021, shares inspiring insights of what the future holds, and hones in on how success has been achieved throughout the ongoing pandemic.
How would you sum up the past 12 months in business?
“The continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic forced many of our clients to pause and re-asses their priorities. However, with a strong focus on diversifying our workforce, bringing in new skills, experiences and perspectives, we were very fortunate to win significant projects across the US, Trinidad and Tobago and Canada - making 2021 a strong year for our North America team.
“During a time when budgets are being cut, having access to specialist knowledge, data analytics, a library of best practice maintenance data and software was a highly effective solution to establishing business performance improvements for our clients.
“Some clients moved to a new agile organizational structure to break down silos, move faster, and reallocate their people and resources. Our team was able to support this operating model by acting as ‘scrum master’ within the client organization.
“Our team also diversified into the renewable space in 2021. Many of our clients have very ambitious goals to reduce their carbon footprint and expand in the renewable energy sector, so we've helped them to develop OPEX models for their potential acquisitions. With the oil and gas industry shifting further towards renewables, this is something that we hope to continue supporting over the next year.”How would you describe the past year in 1 sentence?
“Adapt or die. I think this can be said not only of our industry and the work we do, but also of what’s happening in the world at large as we navigate our way out of the pandemic. The increase of vaccines caused a momentary promise of a return to some form of normalcy, but with new variants emerging, it shows how crucial it is to be adaptable to the world around you.”What do you believe were the biggest opportunities that arose last year?
- Digital transformation and having customized software to meet our clients’ needs
- The need to save costs and do more with less, optimizing our resources
- Being focused on training and having competent manpower needs met
- The continuation of mergers and acquisitions
What were the biggest highlights for your team this year?
“I would say continuing to successfully and tactfully navigate the uncertainty that the pandemic has posed would be a big achievement for us all. Not only did we manage to survive, we actually expanded our portfolio of services and clients - RFID tracking of high temperature hoses being a key one - and the North America team grew by more than 40%, giving us local expertise across the US in many different states.
“Another big highlight for us is our significant client portfolio with large scale projects coming to fruition, with multimillion dollar and multi-year contracts being signed.
“I’m definitely most proud of the team. Having employees that are willing to work hard in difficult situations, and a team that is agile and able to adapt to new situations quickly, played a massive part in our success this year."
What were your biggest lessons learned? Will this impact how you tackle challenges in the future?
“Adapting to change quickly is a big thing I’ve learned over the past few years in particular. Many companies have realized that adapting is essential to survive. At Add Energy we have created business plans, but also have an eye on potential contingencies and have anticipated any unplanned events.
“Hiring the right people was a key challenge we faced this year. With many oil companies reducing their workforce and losing people with years of technical knowledge, we had to make sure we could fill that gap and maintain a strong position as our client’s preferred vendor.
“I’ve also learned that employees and the job are equally important. Hybrid working is the new normal and we need to adjust and align our procedures and ways. This new way of working throughout the pandemic has meant more pressure and more work hours for many employees, and it is now more important than ever for the team to have a healthy work-life balance. Wellness programs and burnout prevention is now a core business priority for us, to ensure our employees are able to produce their best work and get the job done."
“Digital transformation and software will be a big area of focus in 2022, as the pandemic has been a catalyst in enormous growth within these areas. With a continued drive for technology and digital solutions, data will be the fuel powering these innovations and developments which puts us in a strong position here at Add Energy.
“As well as concentrating on training using our Add Energy Academy, we will also continue to focus on green energy. Over the years there has been a real drive towards environmentally friendly energy, from hydrogen to solar power, and everything in between.
“I think that there will be a significant increase in opportunities in 2022, in comparison to the year that’s just passed. Projects that were once paused due to the pandemic will go live again and new business opportunities will arise. So, we are expecting it to be a busy year!”
What are you striving to achieve this year?
“We’re looking to continue providing high quality services to existing clients, while progressing with the diversification journey we’re on, expanding to new markets and provinces within Canada and South America.
“We want to continue to strengthen our position as a preferred service company to the energy sector and we have some opportunities in new markets - such as health care, manufacturing and renewables. We have actually already started looking into various geothermal and crisis management preparedness incident management, so it will be a very exciting year for the company.
“We will also be focusing on digital transformation and technological delivery for our clients, as well as creating strategic partnerships to further enhance Add Energy’s North America presence. We have some very interesting projects in the pipeline that we’re hoping to materialize in 2022.”
Are there any exciting plans or news you can hint towards for 2022?
“We’re planning to launch new training courses within the Add Energy Academy, including a relief well course. We’re also looking into potentially opening an office in Trinidad and Tobago, while further broadening our footprint across the US. We have some big projects and multiple partnerships in the pipeline for 2022!”