Each month we are introducing the wonderful mentors that support the Big Ideas programme, in a feature we are calling ‘Meet the Mentor’. The programme and the students on it simply would not be the same if we didn’t have this mentor support from our business and community partners, and the mentors themselves get an awful lot out of it too.
Find out more about the range of interesting and diverse mentors we work with on our Meet the Mentors page on the website!
Allow me to introduce one of our IGEM mentors from Tyne and Wear – Andy Fuller.
Name: Andy Fuller
Position: Owner/Consultant Engineer, Holistic Integrity Consulting (mentoring through involvement with IGEM)
Please describe your role:
For my business I’m in a team of 1, I’m the owner, director, consultant engineer and chief tea boy, and I love it. I work in the international oil and gas market, assisting mainly pipeline operators in all “integrity” matters. This is not moral integrity, but the physical integrity and operations of their pipeline systems. I specialise in strategic and operational processes and activities for the day-to-day management of pipeline systems and also the preparations for and response to emergency situations.
I also regularly work in cooperation with other small consultancies to deliver a wider range of technical integrity activities, acting as subject matter expert and technical authority on down stream gas networks.
Please describe your route to this role:
I’m not an academic, and my route to my current role was not a straight line. I left school at 16 (1990) and worked in a kitchen as a trainee chef, but the split shifts and cycling 11 miles each way (44 miles a day meant I did get plenty of exercise) was soon trumped with a 4-year apprenticeship to become a pipe fitter/welder, working across most of the schools and hospitals of the North East for some years. I took a change in a totally wild move and enjoyed working as a rescue boat/sailing/canoeing/ instructor on the Firth of Forth before returning to pipe system installing. I joined what was known as Transco (2001) and my career took a new direction, I moved into training and assessing whilst still doing a day job as a “gas man”…also starting a long (very long) part-time university course a couple of years later. After leaving the tools and van behind I moved into integrity management (2007), which took me to Aberdeen (2013) for a while and returning to a consultancy in the North East, which led me work in Malaysia, Chile and Ghana…some amazing food experiences!! In 2017 I made the jump to independent working, and I now consult with pipeline operators on management systems and review safe systems as well as developing response and integrity plans. Oh also into year two of another university course, this time an MBA, so a new chapter in the journey has just begun.
What advice do you have for young people interested in either following a similar route to you or in working for your business/sector?
Many people have a path, route or plan to follow. I can hand on heart say I didn’t plan to get here and if I had there is no way I would have planned a route from kitchen to pipeline integrity consultant. I followed the path to work and positions that interested and challenged me. When I became comfortable in a role I often took on extra, or divergent workloads or projects (or started university, twice now!) When a challenge presented itself, I didn’t jump in head first (normally) but if my interest was spiked I would often go for it. I’ve developed a great network of friends and colleagues over the years who offer support and sound advice; when you move through a career path you learn “stuff” but you never learn it all, building these relationship gives you access to the “stuff” you don’t know. The best advice is to, while developing a career and knowledge, develop your friends and colleagues with equal enthusiasm.
Why did you get involved in S4TP’s Big Ideas programme?
Jen Baughan (S4TP CEO) gave a presentation at the Institute of Gas Engineers and Manager (IGEM) and presented with such passion I was interested, and since I was now a free agent with the option to help I volunteered that night as a possible mentor in the North East.
I can say I didn’t know exactly what to expect, I’m practically-minded and a decent problem solver so thought I could offer some sound advice.
What involvement have you had so far?
This is my first year so I’m still a newbie on this one.
Has participating met your expectations?
It’s been great, the first session was the entire year group of students, not often you get to experience that level of excitement and noise! The range of issues that were identified was immense and varied, the pace of the day was great and kept things moving.
As the programme progressed, understanding the engagement and drive of the kids was great. They have an untainted view on many things so do think in unique directions!
I would like to think my input was useful to the teams I dealt with, and helped in their understanding and progress through the programme.
What has been the best part about participating in the programme?
While working with all the groups was great fun, it was a proud moment to see two of the teams compete in the regional finals, with one of them winning.
What has been the most challenging part about participating in the programme?
Being able to hear so many of the kids talking at once and picking out which questions to answer first! Made my head spin….
What have you learnt, through participating, about yourself, the company and sector you work for, young people, schools and skills development?
The biggest thing is the ambitions of the kids – they aren’t pigeon-holed into one idea of careers, they love the challenge of life and want to get involved.
What would you say to others considering participating in the programme?
Go for it.
It is not every day you get to talk about setting up an international competition on recycled materials or hear about how launching an orbiting microbial filter vacuum will purify the atmosphere!
We are proud and grateful to have you on board Andy – thank you for all your help!
Answers written by: Andy Fuller, Owner/Consultant Engineer, Holistic Integrity Consulting (mentoring through involvement with IGEM)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solutions for the Planet Ltd.