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Localisation provides competitive advantage

by Arabian Oil & Gas Staff on Dec 6, 2016


Linh Austin, McDermott’s vice president and general manager at ADIPEC 2016
Linh Austin, McDermott’s vice president and general manager at ADIPEC 2016

What objectives did you come to ADIPEC with this year?

For us, ADIPEC is an important venue where we can achieve a number of our goals. One of which is to showcase and tell the McDermott journey, which is quite a positive story in this downturn. We actually hired about a thousand people to our workforce this year. This brings me to the second thing that ADIPEC helps us achieve which is to meet new talent. The third thing that we aim for is to network either meet new suppliers or touch base with the existing ones. This will help us understand the new technology and renovation that they bring to the table to support our business delivery.

Where are you operating in the region?

In Dubai, our head office is in Jebel Ali. We moved there in 1985. We were initially based at the Dubai Creek, but we had a great relationship with Sheikh Rashid, who as you know was the one who had the vision for Jebel Ali. He was looking for the area to be an anchor store concept and we volunteered to be the first to move there. We were the biggest employer in Dubai at the time and we are lease holder 001.

We also have two offices in Dammam and Al Khobar. We just opened our second 300-person facility there in October. We also have a fabrication yard there, the second biggest one in the Middle East, the first being also ours in Jebel Ali.

In May, we signed MoU with Nakilat-Keppel Offshore Marine (N-KOM) for Qatar. Obviously, we are a multinational global company but we have changed our philosophy about localisation. We believe that N-KOM is a good partner for us that provides us localisation in Qatar.

Why do you think localisation is so important?

For us, we do believe that there is an inherent competitive advantage for being local. It is all about understanding what is being needed locally, knowing the best way to service the market place, and promoting a certain understanding of the supply chain. Until you are actually local, you don’t fully understand all the benefits of the supply chain that you can receive locally.

When do you expect to reach your localisation quotas in your different GCC offices?

For us, localisation is not a quota. We just see that localisation gives certain competitive advantages in strategic moves that need to happen on the long term. It differs from market to market, however.

In Qatar, there is less need for localisation simply because the size of the local population is much smaller, creating less interest in getting into offshore and EPCI work. Therefore, one of the things we do there is train local Qataris who are interested in an early career learning process because what they are essentially aiming for is potentially to work for national oil companies. So they are interested in us as an avenue for learning rather than as a long term career. We also see this same type of interest in the UAE.

In Saudi, however, we find a different interest. We find a lot of Saudi local talent who are looking to make a career in this kind of industry. In that case, it requires a different approach to localisation from our side.


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