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Life Lessons: Passion for profession

by Indrajit Sen on Dec 6, 2016

Roddy James, chief operating officer of N-Sea
Roddy James, chief operating officer of N-Sea

From a young age, I’d always been hugely fascinated by the sea. When I wasn’t sailing, I spent all my time at the coast or in the water; it was somewhere I always wanted to be. I guess it was inherited from my father, whose naval background and passion for sailing assisted in my development. But my career path into the subsea industry was probably more unconventional than most.

After studying for my degree in the US, I moved back to the UK in the mid-90s and immediately achieved my recreational diving qualifications, so I could begin to explore the underwater world. Every spare evening and weekend was spent diving all around the UK and, after a few years, I was involved in a number of technical diving groups that were at the very edge of pushing the limits of subsea exploration, particularly in the wreck diving area. By then I had really caught the bug, and the natural progression was to change my passion into my career. I decided to obtain my commercial diving qualifications at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, Scotland. From there, I spent around three years working as a self-employed commercial diver and dive supervisor before I was offered an offshore project engineer role in 2001, with Norwegian company, CorrOcean, based in their Aberdeen offices. I thoroughly enjoyed this role as it allowed me to combine my inspection diving with engineering and, over a three-year period, I worked my way up to the role of operations director.

In 2004, I was lucky enough to be part of a management buyout that formed a new company, iicorr, which specialised in integrity, inspection and corrosion services, mainly in the subsea oil and gas sector, where I became business development director. The company continued to expand rapidly during the first few years and, in 2006, we were acquired by Stork Technical Services, which was developing its oil and gas division through further acquisitions. From there, I moved into a more corporate role as global account director for the oil and gas division of Stork. I led the integration of a company called RBG, which had a diving division, and I eventually became Stork’s subsea services senior vice president in 2011. Stork was acquired in 2013 by subsea IMR provider, N-Sea Group, where I still am today, in the role of chief operating officer.

I’ve been lucky that all of my previous roles have led me to naturally progress to my current role at N-Sea. At Stork and iicorr, we focussed on the integrity issues that clients faced, and my passion for the subsea sector gave me a great grounding for the role that I am currently in.

I’ve always been drawn to the entrepreneurial way of growing a business, and enjoy developing a business plan that I can bring to fruition, with a strong team alongside me. Being able to watch others progress, and be part of a growth journey, is a really important part of my role. I’ve always been keen to support people starting out in their careers, as well as long-established employees, who gain a new sense of achievement from playing key roles in implementing our growth strategy.

N-Sea recently opened a new office in Dubai, which was a fundamental element of our growth plans and a natural progression from the European market. I believe the Middle East could become N-Sea’s hub for global activities as we expand further. Our services are well suited to the water depths in the region, and I’m looking forward to developing our survey and IMR operations as we increase our presence in the UAE.

I’ve always had a competitive spirit and firmly believe that when you’re knocked down, you just have to get right back up again. It’s all about finding that mental strength to push through the tough times.


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