Background: Mark Skinner Managing Director of Scotsbridge started the business in late 2017. Having its offices in Singapore & Aberdeen, Scotsbridge assist UK companies develop market entry strategies regards the South East Asia region, focusing on Oil & Gas, renewables and other manufacturing and service sectors.
How did you get into the Energy sector and how long have you been working in it?
My career within the energy sector started in 1982 when I worked as a labourer / machinist for a well- known pipe, flange and fitting company. I must have shown some aptitude and after a couple of years I progressed to the office to handle sales and technical support. Those were very informative years which allowed me to then advance my career into sales and business development with a UK valve producer. A cyclical boom and bust of the industry made it all the more exciting to succeed and push oneself further. I then returned to the company I started my Oil & Gas career with. In 1992 through to 2017. As Sales Manager, Director, Managing Director and in 1997 co-owner of the business via management buy-out.
What does your job involve on an average day?
Due to the time zones in South East Asia my day can often start from 0600 regards calls and video conference with our Singaporean office and delivery partners in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand & Indonesia regards status on new opportunities and development of ongoing projects. The pandemic has been difficult for us initially but once we came out of the initial shock of the implications we devised strategies that could ensure we can still operate on behalf of our clients. We enjoy the interaction with our clients when they visit the region and we can introduce them to potential in country partners and providers. That is what we missed most these past 18 months. Though they cannot travel does not stop ourselves from working within those country borders even though we cannot cross them regionally yet. The separate teams within each country we are working in need managerial support and takes up most of the day.
Meeting new potential clients has been tough within the UK but online networking events, various business platforms and social networking has been the go-to for most companies. We can only hope more live and in person events will come on tap soon.
What are main barriers to international growth for ambitious companies and what advice do you have for them?
It’s a cliché I know but by failing to prepare you should then prepare to fail. Companies need to take more time identifying why any specific international market would want to buy the product or service they are offering. The USP I suppose but I prefer the phrase ‘uncommon offering’ which is more defined when we dig deeper. International growth requires a great deal of resource, including commitment and patience.
Resource does not just mean cash. Many managers, directors and owners can be TIME POOR. Can you support an international initiative with the staff you have? Are some of those staff key to domestic opportunities thus the ebb and flow can often dilute the initial international efforts gained?
Most international growth opportunities will need to have an in-country partner. The selection process for this needs to be pin point accurate so to eliminate any false starts and potentially costly legal wrangling. Best to spend the time upfront regards appropriate due diligence and fresh in-country market intelligence.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Some of the large project wins for piping and valve packages were immense during the 2000’s. My team at John Bell Pipeline surpassed all expectations and were at that time part of the largest UK independent company within its field. Being able to assist with the development and opportunities for my colleagues then was really the highlight. Seeing them grow in confidence and ability was the real game changer for me.
What ambitions have you still got to fulfil professionally in your career?
My focus is for Scotsbridge to assist as many companies as possible so they can ensure a successful outcome of sustained and regional growth within South East Asia that is one of the most exciting and diverse global regions. Personally, I’m not adverse to a bit of training and knowledge transfer. This last year I have been studying with Entrepreneurial Scotland & Babson Business School, Boston USA. I would like to think I may expand into other courses and new learning over the next few years.
Who has been the most influential person in your life professionally?
It would be unfair to mention only one. The person that really saw something in me was Brian Reidy. Brian sadly passed away to soon but he managed me through my informative business years and installed values and discipline that I still hold dear to this day. I would like to mention also Colin Grant, Arthur Watt and John Bell who gave me opportunities and encouragement. Also, my friend and business partner Brian Thomson who is a great leveller offering advice and wisdom.
Given the experience you have now, what advice would you give a graduate just starting their career in the Energy sector?
Maximise every opportunity that comes your way and learn as much from the people you are working with as possible. That includes life skills too. Be a better listener. Be positive about change and transition as the energy sector is always evolving. My advice relates to any young adult regardless of qualifications starting a career within the energy sector. Be a participant, a change maker not a spectator.
Learn more about Scotsbridge at: https://www.scotsbridge.net/
Read the latest issue of the OGV Energy magazine HERE.