“We’re the Eyes of the Client”: Witnessing the Challenges Offshore as a Client Representative

South West Surveys (SWS) supplies Atlas’ Offshore Management and Quality Control personnel, providing clients with the expertise and knowledge that’s needed for their offshore Survey, Construction and Seismic projects. SWS’ Survey Client Rep Chris Chambers has worked in the offshore industry for over 15 years, starting out as a Project Engineer; Chris progressed into one of the industry’s higher roles.

Communicating with the Client

“An average day usually consists of mainly checks and inspections of the project, vessel and the crew. HSSE is a priority that we all take seriously. Firstly it’s just a general overview, so I would usually check progress throughout the evening; answer any urgent emails that may have come in overnight and address any issues that need attending. I also work very closely with the offshore Managers and the Senior Supervisor onboard to make sure that things such as the weather forecast have been reviewed and that we are prepared for it. The Client Rep also needs to inspect the quality of the data that’s received from the project and be in regular contact with the client onshore to keep them up-to-date with the progression of the project.”

Experience is Key

“I have always been interested in the offshore industry and other marine activities such as deep sea diving. That’s why I decided to study Hydrography at Plymouth. There were only two institutions in the UK that teach the course.” Plymouth University offers a combination of courses that are recognised to industry standards and that of the International Hydrographic Organisation and the International Federation of Surveyors. These courses also include training on the main software used by professionals in this industry. “As a Client Rep you need to be computer literate and have the knowledge of all the basic Microsoft packages, as well as those used in the industry such as EIVA and QINSy. Packages such as EIVA’s NaviSuite software are what contractors are using nowadays. I would say that although you gain an understanding of the software at university, you can learn so much more when you’re working offshore. As a Client Rep you need to have a good understanding on all different types of software, to identify what you are looking for when observing operations.”

Observing Workmanship

One of the many responsibilities of Client Rep is to also observe the workmanship on a project along with the Operations Manager. Chris explains whether his relationship with the crew is affected by his role, “Personally, I try and interact with the crew as much as possible. When I was working out on the Orman Lange Project in Norway, we had a very good team on board who were really on the ball with the operations and another good support team onshore, because of this I was able to provide the support for the team and the project was a success from start to finish. Although I’m there acting as the eyes of the client, working as a team works better than working individually.”

A Versatile Role

“The most challenging aspect about the role is that you have to be versatile, every job is different and you need to be able to face the various challenges and learn how to overcome them. It’s one of these industries in which you’ll either love it or hate it. The plus side is the freedom to travel and the pay, but obviously the downsides are that you can’t come home when you want and you have to leave your family and friends behind. It’s not a normal life. However, you’ll never know until you try it.”