Since joining Drilling Systems in 2016 as the Maintenance and Support Sales Manager, Max has been an integral part of the company’s growth. His outstanding performance and dedication resulted in a variety of well-deserved promotions, and he currently serves as the Head of Business Development.
> How long have you worked for Drilling Systems?
I started with Drilling Systems in 2016 as Maintenance and Support Sales Manager. At the time we had many clients running on obsolete platforms and with no support agreement. My job was to revamp the support agreement offering and to get these clients the level of support and upgrades they needed.
Later in the same year, I became Business Development Manager for Europe and CIS regions initially, then sub-Saharan Africa as well. My broad and diverse sales territory provided me with an extremely varied experience.
In 2022, I was promoted to Director of Simulation Sales and later changed to Head of Business Development. In this role, I’ve been able to enhance our sales toolkit and to lead the onboarding of a new and restructured sales team in our UK and Middle East offices.
> What stood out about Drilling Systems that attracted you to join the company?
Knowing what I do today, it’s not easy to remember my view of Drilling Systems before I joined. Clearly, the product was cool, and although I didn’t know much about drilling at the time, I found the field of drilling and well operations fascinating. I remember seeing Drilling Systems as a growing fast-paced organisation. Being part of that journey was of course very attractive.
At the time, I knew Drilling Systems was renowned as the global leader in their field which was enough for me. I didn’t know why until I joined the team and learned first hand from seeing how our technology is used, the impact it has, and the feedback we receive from our loyal customer base.
> Can you tell us a bit about your career history and how it has contributed to the progression into your current position?
Like most salespeople, sales was never something I set out to do. After finishing my GCSEs I decided full-time education was not for me and I was fortunate enough to secure an Advanced Modern Apprenticeship within a multinational aerospace engineering company. I worked there for about ten years in various engineering roles, all the while completing various courses part-time, culminating in a degree in electrical and electronic engineering.
During my time as an engineer, I transitioned away from pure R&D into a more customer-focused role, leading technical investigations into in-service product and system faults within aerospace equipment.
I then took the leap out of my comfort zone from aerospace to oil & gas as Account Manager for an upstream equipment supplier. My background in problem solving in a customer-facing role was a good fit for what was a very technical sales role. Solutions were offered which bought us revenue while solving often significant headaches for our clients.
> Can you give an insight into your working day?
I normally start quite early. I have clients several time zones ahead so I try to be flexible and align my working day to my clients as much as I can. While I’m having my first strong coffee of the day I’ll prioritise responding to any inbound enquiries
Throughout the day, I will normally have at least a couple of scheduled virtual meetings. Almost all my time is spend on developing sales opportunities at different stages. While Drilling Systems is well known, there are still many companies out there that don’t know us, or don’t know the full extent of our solutions and the value we bring. So, I make sure to set aside time for new prospects and make introductions. Progressing existing opportunities is of course a priority, and making sure our clients are supported at all stages of their buying cycle with the information they need from Drilling Systems. As part of my role as Head of Business Development, I spend some time supporting the rest of the team by reviewing proposals, sometimes joining their meetings and providing general advice. To further support this effort, I also have a background project to continually improve and develop our sales toolkit.
I am not always in the office, and often travel. Seeing my clients face to face and in their own training centre or university is something that brings great satisfaction to my role
> In line with IOGP Report 476, section 4.3 on “continuous learning in the workplace”, can you give your take on the impact on the sector and the push for upskilling/reskilling the workforce?
Activity in the oil and gas industry is recovering quickly after several tough years. The industry is resilient and is used to these cycles. It is well-known that with each cycle comes a skills gap, where new entrants into the industry during the upturn do not plug the gap in the skills and knowledge that had left in the downturn. This upturn feels different because for the first time in the history of our industry, many young people in some regions don’t see oil and gas as an industry that can provide a long-term career. This will have a knock-on effect on the supply of new talent joining our oil and gas operators, drilling contractors and service companies. The compounding pressures of increased activity, loss of skills and knowledge and high turn-over of new hires will call for new ideas and solutions to bridge the skills gap effectively. Continuous learning is a key solution here, allowing learning methodologies to fit in around day-to-day operations.
We’ve seen an increased demand from industry for continuous learning for several years, long before the current upturn. We therefore welcome the new recommendations by IOGP for industry to introduce continuous learning practices in addition to instructor-led training and assessment. Drilling Systems is well positioned to help organisations follow this recommendation immediately, whether it be by using our DrillSIM:Academy continuous learning tool, or by conducting Drill Well on Simulator (DWOS) scenario-based training on board the rig before a particular well operation.
> Being head of the business development process at Drilling Systems, what do you think sets the company apart from competitors?
Competition is always a good thing in my opinion. Drilling Systems has always had competitors and we’ve always stayed a step ahead. We have always led the market but in many ways this has been customer-driven. In most projects we deliver, something gets added or improved to serve that customer’s needs. It means in today’s product lines, there is a bit of almost every major player in the drilling and well service industry. I don’t think anybody else can say that.
But although we do have competition, there is not one company that spans the same breadth of product lines that we do. When we make a purchase in everyday life, we usually have a choice, and almost always we face a trade-off between product quality, customer service and price. The easy thing about my job is that our customers really don’t need to face such a compromise. When a customer comes to me, no matter what their requirements are, I can usually find a solution that makes sense to them.
> What advice would you give to someone entering the industry?
The oil and gas industry will change and adapt and needs to do so, but it will be with us for the foreseeable future. I’m confident that new entrants to our industry can enjoy a secure future, all the while developing skills and knowledge that will be transferrable to and highly desired by other industries.
For young people that have recently joined the oil and gas industry, I hope they recognise their value.