Being PRofessional

This time last year I was frantically writing a dissertation in my pyjamas, with a Pot Noodle by my side. Today, like several other of my co-workers at Fifth Ring in Aberdeen, I am considered ‘young professional’ (wearing stilettos, accompanied by a Pret A Manger sandwich might I add).

So what talent does it take to shift from the stereotypical, sloppy student to said ‘young professional’? I had the privilege of attending Young Professionals in Oil & Gas Seminar on Thursday 28 March 2013 to find out more.

In Deloitte and Pinset Masons first seminar of 2013 for young professionals working in the energy industry, Alfie Cheyne, CEO of ACE Winches, was our guest speaker. The entrepreneur started his career as an apprentice Marine Engineer before founding Alfred Cheyne Engineering in 1992, rebranding to ACE Winches in 2004.

The company, a client of Fifth Ring, is now a global leader in the design, manufacture and hire of hydraulic winches and marine deck machinery.

The event turnout was very healthy indeed – well, the invite did promise free booze and food after all! After consuming my glass of shiraz (yes, I choose my wine by type now, not by percentage) and several canapés, it was time to be seated for Alfie’s session.

Two minutes into the talk and it was clear to see why Alfie has won a number of prestigious awards, including the recent Institute of Directors Global Director of The Year in 2012.

It was refreshing to be presented with honesty from a man with a simple philosophy: work hard, stay focused and grasp opportunities.

A continual point was addressed: people do business. On this, LinkedIn was, he suggested, a distraction from the most valuable and traditional form of networking since communication began: face-to-face.

Alfie stressed the importance he places on investing in his people and I couldn’t help but associate this nature to that of Fifth Ring, recognising the raw talent of it’s youth and cultivating it.

Care, commitment, and passion, combined with vigilant cash management and thinking ahead were listed as key elements for sustainable growth.

Most working days, the entrepreneur is in the office at 6.45am, a time more likely to have been seen in a casino in a recent past for many of the young graduates in the audience I am sure. Most working days, the entrepreneur leaves the office at 8.30pm, again I could repeat my point here about where a student is more likely to be!

However, I believe that Alfie’s simple wisdom “stay positive and focused” is more than achievable for young professionals in industry who have achieved this much so far in.

To this, youth in industry and “professional in oil and gas” are maybe not so far apart. Learning is lifelong, stated Alfie, you should learn something new every day and most importantly share this information with others.

After the motivational talk there was more opportunity to network – shiny new business card in one hand, an alcoholic beverage in the other – although this time I did not end up in the casino!

The seminar was beneficial, inspirational and thoroughly enjoyable.

So, how can young professionals grow into successful businessmen and women? It’s simple: take the effort and drive that got you where you are today and fire it into the company you work for – and go easy on the wine!