5 QUESTIONS - Supplier Representative

Atlas Professional Sarah

Why this position, and why this industry?

“I've been working in the cable industry since I graduated from college back in the early 90s.  I started as a geologist and then moved into repping surveys and eventually into repping installations.  I split my offshore time these days between installation and survey, and I thoroughly enjoy both.  I like to keep busy and be hands on so working as a supplier representative as opposed to a client representative is great for me.  I typically spend six to eight weeks at sea a few times a year.  The offshore trips are always very rewarding—I get to work with talented people whose drive and dedication matches my own." 

How would you describe your job?

“As a supplier representative, I work for companies that build and install cable.  I act as a conduit for information and decisions between the ship and shore.  On a ship, that places me between my client (the customer who has purchased the cable system) and the survey or installation contractor.  A typical day involves receiving updates from the contractor and discussing and passing these along to my client. Then we usually have a morning meeting where the entire team has an opportunity to discuss issues and pass along information.  The rest of the day is spent observing, helping to make decisions, and answering queries as necessary.  When I rep surveys, I also take preliminary data and create a draft cable route position list that can then be analyzed onshore.  I am usually around for about 12-14 hours a day, but the job involves being on call 24 hours per day.  I am often woken in the night for things that need attention.  You get totally immersed in the job—it's intense, but I love it.  

When I'm not at sea, I compile burial assessment reports from my home office.  This adds a wonderful aspect to my job as it keeps my brain engaged between offshore jobs and also brings in a little extra money.”  

And the industry?

“The cable industry is a very well established one.  It has matured and kept abreast of changes in technology for over a century now.  I entered the industry shortly after the change from coax to fiber optic cable, and I've seen big leaps forward in the capacity of the cable itself.  There have also been improvements in survey and installation technology over the years as we've learned and progressed.  It's not necessarily an industry that changes quickly, but it does learn lessons well over time.   It's an industry that's had to weather some storms, but it's still on very solid ground, and I believe those storms helped consolidate and hone practices.  The people who work in the cable industry are typically stable, optimistic, dedicated, accountable and technically competent.  The people are one of the best parts of the job for me.  It's such a unique industry; it's difficult to find people onshore who fully understand your life, so being able to regularly interact with others who share your passion for the work is extremely satisfying.”

Thinking of progressing your career?

“I know the answer to this question is supposed to show ambition, but to be completely honest I am very happy where I am.  I already feel like I've come a long way in my career, and right now I think I'm in a perfect place for me.  I am extremely passionate about my work—it has always defined who I am to a large degree.   I go to sea a few times a year and work part time on reports when I'm at home.  I love being a consultant because it gives me the freedom to choose what I do and when I do it, and I have lots of free time when I'm at home.  My friends and family tell me I have a perfect life!  I tend to agree.”

What have the highlights been so far?

“I am very proud of what I do and feel extremely honored to be part of an established, but cutting edge industry filled with wonderful people.  The passion for my work obviously shines through when I talk about it.  When I tell people about it, the immediate response is always wide-eyed disbelief, usually followed by the phrase, 'How cool is that?'  I always say that it's like being on the Discovery Channel every day, and being well paid to do so.  I never tire of my work.  There's nothing quite like being on the bridge of a ship watching a plough launch in 1500m water depth, and witnessing state-of-the-art equipment and top notch personnel pulling off a well-practiced operation.  I've traveled the world and seen things people only dream about.  The highlights are too many to even begin to mention!”