MANY people dream about becoming their own boss, but most aren’t brave enough to turn their fantasy into reality.
Budding entrepreneur, Laurent Schirrer, who relocated to Aberdeen from France 15 years ago, was working as a principal reservoir engineer at a major oil company in Aberdeen when he decided he wanted a new challenge.
Some managers aren’t daring enough to take the risk to leave a big firm, but Laurent, who was recognised as one of the top reservoir engineers with the company at the time, took the gamble to leave his well-paid job behind.
However, Laurent, who graduated from the Paris School of Mines with a degree in petroleum geology, did not want to put his family at risk, and before leaving his job he ensured he had finances and resources in place to set up the business and a backup plan in case things didn’t work out as he had hoped.
With a small overdraft in place and no personal money to plough into the venture, he made the courageous decision to leave his well-respected job in 2011, to establish reservoir engineering consultancy Oilgen, with the help of his wife, Isabelle Vervoort.
The company specialises in high-tech reservoir modeling to forecast and improve oil and gas production, and is currently only one of five companies in Aberdeen offering this type of service, and they bring work to Aberdeen from Holland, France, West Africa, Egypt and America using their international connections.
From the start, the couple who have two young children, vowed that they would never work from home as they believe it is important to keep family life separate from work life, and they secured cheap office premises in Aberdeen to base the business from.
A week before giving birth to the couple’s second child, Isabelle passed her reservoir engineering exams, and as well as working for Oilgen, Isabelle is a part-time mum.
As Aberdeen is a tough market for the type of work that Oilgen offers, the couple have had to put a lot of time and effort into making the business a success.
Their hard work and perseverance has paid off, and a number of top clients have hired the company to work on high profile projects, which has helped to raise awareness of the specialised work the business offers.
Laurent said: “Reservoir engineering and oilfield history matching is a niche market, and as a result of our good work on smaller contracts, customers have returned to us to use our services for larger scale projects and we have secured a number of contracts.
“Leaving my old job was a huge gamble, but I am glad I made the decision to become my own boss.
“I do not miss the workgroup environment of large companies because we maintain daily contacts and teamwork with our clients. I would feel lonely and would never have done this otherwise.”
In addition to subsurface project management, Oilgen operates an advisory branch, which includes access to a range of experienced consultants providing further support to its clients in reserves and acquisitions.
It also specialises in project management and provides Enhanced Oil Recovery techniques that are valuable to oil and gas production.
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