In our latest staff profile interview, we’re delighted to introduce Craig Douglas and Ben Shirron, who were both recently promoted to the position of Subsea Robotics Pilot Technician 2, having joined Rovco as trainee technicians last year. Based in Aberdeen, Craig and Ben are now working towards Pilot Technician 1 accreditation. Join us as we catch up with them to learn more about their career paths, training and what attracted them to join Rovco.
What did you do before you joined Rovco?
Craig: Previously, I completed five months of ROV training with another company, and before that, I served my time as an industrial electrician.
Ben: When I left school I went into aviation, fixing and maintaining helicopters. I then worked as a mechanical technician in wireline.
What appealed to you about working as an ROV technician?
Craig: I used to work in the oil and gas sector, and after seeing ROV operators in action, it was something that really appealed to me. That prompted me to serve my time as an electrician, and then look for a staff position in ROV work. Because Rovco’s ROVs are more electrically based than hydraulic, having an electrical background is really beneficial.
Ben: I knew quite a lot of individuals in the industry, and it was always fascinating to hear what they were up to. The projects they were working on sounded exciting, and the fact that they were never doing the same thing piqued my interest. I started looking for a similar role, and was fortunate enough to join the Rovco team.
What sort of training have you gone through since joining the company?
Craig: Our training has entailed going on jobs to experience live projects, learning about the different conditions that ROVs operate in, and how we work with clients. We also attended an intensive three-week ROV pilot training course at Kinlochleven. Following that, we were given competencies to work on, accumulating flying hours, etc., to ensure that we could fly on the stick competently before being promoted to level two technicians. We also received appraisals following each trip, providing us with feedback as to how we were getting on.
Ben: Our management and recruitment teams have done a fantastic job in building a very strong ROV team here at Rovco; we’ve been fortunate with who we’ve been able to learn from. Our senior pilots and supervisors have years of experience and knowledge, which they’re more than willing to share with us, and they are very patient when it comes to walking you through everything.
This has really helped with our development and progress, as we want to learn. It benefits the team as well, because once they know us and what we are capable of, they can carry on with their work while we carry on with ours.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
Craig: Every day is different. Jobs I’ve had in the past have been quite monotonous and repetitive, whereas with ROVs you get to do flying, maintenance, electrical work, as well as hydraulic and electronics that I didn’t know about previously. There’s always someone in the team that can teach you something new, and you’re learning every day which keeps the job interesting.
Ben: I really like the team environment. When we go offshore in our groups of three, everyone has their strengths, but we all chip in and work together, so you’re always learning, expanding your knowledge and developing a great foundation. Working offshore is a lot easier when you are part of such a strong team and you enjoy working alongside the people you’re with. We spend a lot of time together, so it’s important that we get along.
What attracted you to come to work at Rovco?
Craig: I was already working with ROVs at another company, but I was attracted by the fact that Rovco focuses on offshore renewables which is becoming increasingly important. Rovco puts renewables at the forefront of its work, and that’s something I wanted to be a part of.
I also like the fact it is a rapidly growing company, so there is a lot of opportunity for advancement, and the team takes a genuine interest in you.
Ben: The opportunity to join the company at a fairly early stage, and witness its remarkable growth and success was a big part of the attraction. I also wanted to move away from oil and gas and focus my career on renewables, as that is the future.
Ben: One of the primary reasons I was drawn to Rovco was the exciting opportunity to work with its cutting-edge SubSLAM X2 camera, developed by its sister company, Vaarst. It’s really cool to see the 3D modelling – as you are flying, it’s building an incredible high-definition 3D image of underwater assets. The technology Rovco has at its disposal is truly impressive; it’s exciting to work in such an innovative environment.
How do you spend your free time?
Craig: I have two young girls, so my free time is consumed with soft play, nail painting and things like that. I spend as much time as I can with them – especially as I am away for six months of the year – taking them out on their bikes and going to the park.
Being onshore for a month allows me to do things such as take them to nursery and school, which is great as I get to do a lot more with them than I would if I worked Monday to Friday.
Ben: I like being out and about, and I play rugby and golf. When the Covid restrictions lifted a couple of years ago, my girlfriend and I decided that we wanted to climb all of the Munros. We’ve done all of the nearby ones, so we’re now planning trips to climb the further away ones. We have climbed 38 so far, so we still have a long way to go to until we complete all 282! This job makes it easier though, as you don’t have to rely on just your weekends, which is a bonus.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Ben: My girlfriend and I are obsessed with indoor plants, but we’ve reached the point where we’re running out of space in the house to put them.
Craig: Snacks, but I don’t feel guilty about it!