Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Find your niche—its not all pipes, ships and concrete

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OilNOW
OilNOW is an online-based Information and Resource Centre

By A. Bacchus

Back in 2015, when the first oil discovery was announced, I was blissfully unaware of the workings of the petroleum industry. In fact, in my mind, oil production in Guyana would look like a scene out of one of my mother’s favourite shows—Dallas. I pictured towering steel structures and men in hard hats scurrying around. Similarly, I was of the uninformed view that everyone that wanted to work in the sector either needed to be a business executive, an engineer, or a scientist. Thankfully, over the last five years, I’ve become more au fait with the industry.

In my discourse with many persons, I have discovered that they too have a similar perception of the industry, especially as it relates to business opportunities. Perhaps, it’s the pictures of steel plates, construction works and large ships that frequently accompany oil and gas related articles that cause this misconception, or perhaps it’s lack of access to relevant and targeted information. Guyana is undergoing massive transformation, of which the oil and gas industry is a catalyst. We’ve seen artists impressions of mammoth industrial parks, hotels, roads and bridges. It’s easy to find ourselves under the misconception that job and contract opportunities only lay in the areas of engineering, fabrication, construction and other technical areas.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not—the services needed by the industry range from catering and printing to transportation, housekeeping and logistics. There is a niche for everyone. I’ve sat and observed a growing number of Guyanese capitalising on the emerging opportunities and aligning their businesses to suit the needs of the industry, by utilising their existing skills and experience. The oil and gas companies and their contractors cannot do it all on their own, and they predominantly outsource most of their service requirements.

I recall attending a virtual summit where Jennifer Falconer, who is one of the proprietors of Falcon Logistics, spoke about how she aligned her company’s services to cater for the oil and gas industry. Falcon Logistics, she said, had previously provided services such as vessel support, brokerage, and immigration services to the mining industry but due to the large influx of work from the oil sector, they could no longer focus on other industries.

Maggie’s Catering has tapped into the supply chain, quickly becoming the onshore caterer for ExxonMobil and other companies within the industry. That business has spoken about how they improved their standards and production quality to ensure that they met the requirements of the industry.

Kerensa Gravesande-Bart and Lloyd Bart are perhaps among my most admired Guyanese entrepreneurs, because of their innovation and perseverance. Kerensa is the Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Recruitment Solutions Guyana Incorporated, a company which she started, using her training and experience in the area of business management and recruitment. Lloyd heads Symmetry Brokerage and Logistics Service Incorporated, which offers brokerage and logistics services and was birthed from his work experience in these areas.

Several event-planning businesses are frequent names at activities hosted by companies within the oil and gas sector, and their services are not only required for large events but also for smaller in-company activities. Cyril’s Taxi Service has quickly gained a reputation as being the transportation of choice for the petroleum sector. That business has publicly spoken about investing in expanding their fleet and training their personnel to meet the needs of the sector.

I can go through a list of what is now hundreds of businesses registered with the Centre for Local Business Development to offer services to the sector. The demands of the sector are wide. Companies need security services, they need construction services, they need architects and interior designers. Electrical services, networking, plumbing and landscaping are all areas of demand with the growing number of businesses setting up offices in Guyana.  They need to source their materials, stationary, equipment, even the soap at their sinks and the coffee in their lunchrooms. Their buildings need to be cleaned and maintained, their staff need to be fed. Their events need to be organised and catered for. Staff need to travel to conduct business, uniforms need to be sewn, badges and business cards need to be designed and printed. Even something as minute as pens and paperclips present the opportunity for Guyanese to tap into this growing industry.

Perhaps it’s time we move away from just looking at the bigger picture and start taking a closer look at the nitty-gritty to find our niches.

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