Despite difficulties of dealing with different cultures and languages, from Iran, the UK and Brazil, Norwegian Jan Vidar Gausel has followed his own mantra to stay focused until he finds the right solution. This has helped him achieve a successful career in the oil & gas business. What he’s most proud of is delivering a good HSE response for each of the projects he’s been involved.
After studying engineering at the Stavanger Maritime School in Norway, Jan Vidar began his working life on big tankers. For his first project, he was stationed in Iran in 1973, a time he fondly remembers. Thanks to his love of ships, he continued to work for Statoil with offshore operations and maintenance.
“In about 2004, I got fed up,” Jan Vidar explains. “I wanted to develop my job so that I could have new, positive projects to work on. Luckily, Statoil provided me with the opportunity to become an advisor in its HSE project department. For me, this position that I’ve now had over the past 10 years has been a great combination of doing what I enjoy and my area of expertise.”
Being part of Statoil’s HSE management has taken him to many different kinds of projects around the world. “Going back to Iran for 2.5 years to work on a topside reconstruction site in Bushehr, a 40-minute flight from Tehran, was its own kind of culture shock,” he smiles. “The country had really changed since the time I was there at the start of my career. Even driving a car seemed very dangerous at first.” He also worked as a safety advisor and inspector on the company’s topsides in Norway, Texas and Brazil, each with their own set of cultural values.
Jan Vidar feels his most important contribution has been to find solutions with a long-term impact. “You need to answer different questions with regards to safety issues and then communicate the solutions to all kinds of project people so that they fully understand,” he says. “I find it really rewarding to help workers think about the risks at hand and their own safety. And I’m proud of being able to deliver a good HSE approach for each of the various cases where I’ve been involved.”
In a few weeks, Jan Vidar plans to begin early retirement. Besides focusing more on his hobbies of fishing in the rivers around Stavanger, Norway, and hunting, he and his family plans to stay involved in breeding English Staffordshire bull terriers.
His recommendation for anyone starting in this profession is to have an open mind. “You need to make sure you follow up on what you start. And keep focused on where you want to go.”