Apply Altra has the antidote to employees’ wanderlust
When winter takes Scotland firmly in its vice-like icy grip, it’s no wonder that many people develop wanderlust and start to dream of jetting off abroad. But the reality is that few people actually do take the life-changing decision to up sticks and relocate and leave their family, friends and careers behind.
But, as employees Aberdeen oil and gas engineering consultancy Apply Altra have discovered, taking off on your travels does not necessarily have to mean moving lock, stock and barrel to a different country. The firm, which is part of the Norway-based Apply group, has found the perfect antidote to itchy feet syndrome by allowing staff to spend time working at its other European offices.
Process engineer Carol Munjoma jumped at the opportunity to spend four months with the team at Apply Sorco in Stavanger. She is due to return to the UK at the end of January. Carols (24) says, "I wanted to get into the oil and gas industry when I graduated because I really wanted to travel. Cross-border working offers a fantastic opportunity because you can basically try before you buy: I’ve been able to see a bit of the country and experience the culture before deciding whether I would want to move from Aberdeen permanently.
"The working culture is different here - it’s much more laid back and there is more emphasis on team building. We even do a weekly Pilates class which helps us to relax and learn movements that we can use to combat fatigue when we are sitting at our desks.
"The only disappointment is that I haven’t been able to learn any Norwegian. The Apply Sorco office is very international – I sit at a desk with three other people and we are all from different countries – so everyone speaks English, including the Norwegians!”
Project engineer Andrew Palmer (56) has travelled all over the world in his career and admits that continually being immersed into different cultures ensures there is never a dull moment. He is also a regular visitor to the Stavanger office along with project interface engineer Steven Gerrard (38), where they are currently assisting Norwegian colleagues with a particularly complex multi-discipline engineering project.
"We were invited to spend time in Norway because this was such an unusual project. Being able to travel abroad helps to keep things fresh, but it does no harm for your career because you are exposed to so many different challenges and introduced to new or different ways of thinking or approaching solutions.
"I also think that it’s extremely beneficial, from a career progression point of view, to build up a better understanding of the company you are working for. It helps too that we are building a good relationship with our Norwegian colleagues as they are getting to know us and be confident in our abilities,” says Andrew.
Steven adds, "No one is ever forced to go overseas, and it is very much up to each individual whether they want to travel. Being overseas certainly makes the working week a lot more interesting and it’s great to be able to experience a different country while still being able to put down roots and have a home with your family in Aberdeen.
"Working in Norway has been a real eye opener. They have a fantastic work-life balance and family is very important to them. Stavanger can be an expensive place, but on the flip side they have an extremely high standard of living.”
Chris Jones (36) has a young family, so the opportunity to retain a base in the UK without uprooting them is very important. He says, "The oil and gas industry is one of a handful of professions where your job can move with you. In other jobs, like medicine, for example, if you want to relocate then you have to do it all on your own.
"I have been able to work on cross-border projects all over the world, but I am particularly enjoying this latest one in Norway because it has been so refreshing. Travelling abroad is particularly beneficial for young people wanting to progress up the career ladder because it helps them to develop personally and professionally - they come away with a greater understanding of the industry and see it from a different perspective.”
Since joining the Apply family in 2011, Apply Altra, based at Union Plaza in Aberdeen, has become a centre of excellence within group for process engineering and general front end engineering and design. The Apply group has 2,000 employees across Europe and in addition to the headquarters in Stavanger has a presence in Bergen and Krakow.
The company is currently looking is currently recruiting for a range of different positions. Further information can be found at www.applyaltra.com and Apply Altra can be contacted on + 44 (0)1224 652200 or by emailing email@example.com