Petter Mathisen Vice President Software Solutions at AGR (Page 1 of 2) By Brian Wickins, 28 Jul 2014

Petter Mathisen studied Mechanical Engineering at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. He chose Mechanical Engineering because it had the most choices of all the different engineering directions and in many ways could touch into most of these. “That is probably why they say that the Mechanical engineer could be used for almost all engineering tasks!”, Petter commented.

During his five years at NTNU, he had the opportunity to spend one year as an Erasmus exchange student at Ecole Centrale in Nantes, France. He said this made for a very interesting year for him, with a huge language barrier to overcome as all courses were in French.

What attracted you into the oil and gas industry? Was there a 'defining moment' when you knew what career path you would follow?

After my year abroad as an Erasmus exchange student, I was motivated to get out in the world. With a relatively poor job market in Norway in 2002, it seemed like a great opportunity to apply for a job with Schlumberger (SLB) who were hiring international Field Engineer trainees. I decided to give it a go myself after hearing a presentation by SLB at my university combined with exiting stories from friends that had already joined the company. It turned out to be just as rewarding as I had imagined; getting to travel the world at the age of 25, meeting people from all over the world and seeing places and cultures I had never imagined I would get to see and at the same time learn the industry and improve my language skills.

My philosophy has been to accept all challenges that come my way and to make the best of them, and my career path has been formed on the way.

What regions of the world have you worked in and could you give some examples of the interesting/tough places you have worked, and what you feel you learnt, career-wise and as an individual, from the 'overseas' postings?

During my first year with SLB I was stationed in Moscow, Russia, and I had the opportunity to go to Siberia and to the field a few times. The weather in Siberia could vary from very hot in the summer to extremely cold in the winter time. I remember the muddy road driving to the rig site and getting stuck with the 4x4. I also remember the sleeping caravan having ice on the walls inside due to poor insulation and cold outside, and the very basic sanitary facilities. But I mostly remember from these trips the warm people from the chef in the restaurant caravan, and the rig crews from around CIS and all the field engineers from all over the world and their interesting stories and experiences. During this time in Russia, I managed to learn basic Russian - the Cyrillic alphabet. I can still have a basic conversation in Russian, and this has been very helpful in many places of the world. Career wise I think it gave me a believe in myself that it was possible for anyone with the right attitude to work anywhere in the world, and this has been an important learning for me later when covering areas outside Norway such as the Middle East, west Africa and Russia.

What advice do you have for young professionals looking to forge a career in the resources industry? What are the essentials they need to develop?

Firstly I would say that they should be open to all opportunities that come along. Do not be too focused on getting back to your home town after graduating. The time will come for that later on. Make the most out of the first years of your career, and learn as much as possible. Do not be afraid of accepting challenges. With some effort you will make it and it will take you to the next step. Getting the chance to travel to other regions of your country, other countries or offshore will give you a large professional network, new friends and valuable learning. What you learn at university is important but what you learn and how you are formed in the first years of your career is probably more important.

What do you think the industry can do to make itself more socially acceptable, and particularly as an attractive career choice (Earth Science/Engineering) for today’s youth?

I think the industry has to be more proactive telling the youth about all the good things that are going on. Much of the technology that has been developed for the Oil and Gas industry can also be used for other energy industries such as geothermal wells, offshore windmills etc. The world needs more energy to continue developing and giving welfare to those in need and the challenge is how to extract the oil and gas safely and efficiently and to develop new technologies to decrease emissions as much as possible.