Kirsty – Civil/Structural Engineer


Location: Woking (currently seconded to Houston)

Year joined in: 2012

Position joined as: Graduate Civil/Structural Engineer

What is your degree in?

I graduated with a Masters in Civil Engineering.

What is your role at Petrofac?

I’m part of the Civil and Structural department in Woking where I carry out design work for a wide variety of projects. I’m currently on secondment in Houston where I’ve been working with the business development team and have also had the opportunity to assist our Mexico office with structural work on the life extension of offshore platforms in Tampico.

Why did you choose Petrofac?

Following my graduation I carried out a lot of research into companies in the energy industry that offered graduate positions. Petrofac really stood out to me for the diversity of work they undertake globally.

I accidently found myself applying to Woking for a role not knowing it was actually an Aberdeen position. Fortunately I got a call to come down for an interview in Woking saying there was an opportunity for a civil/structural graduate position. Strangely it was the only interview I have actually enjoyed doing (putting aside all my nerves) and left feeling like this is the exact job I want. I was fortunate enough at the time to have options in starting my career path but when Petrofac called offering me the job, I didn’t hesitate.

What kind of projects do you work on?

I’ve worked on a wide range of projects throughout my time at Petrofac. These include brownfield, greenfield and renewables projects. I’ve also been responsible for supporting the construction of two projects, both on site and remotely. My experience has ranged from the early stages of projects such as bids and proposals, to small modification FEEDs and detailed design work, and then on to larger scale jacket detailed designs and full topsides modification projects.

Most recently I’ve completed structural visual surveys of platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and have been supporting business development in the Houston office whilst on secondment.

What skills do you need?

For my design work I’ve needed to have the civil/structural technical background to complete analyses and calculations. Problem solving skills have been the most beneficial to all my work both technical and non-technical.

Being resilient to any situation or issue that is thrown your way is another key skill to have and flexibility to adapt to the ever changing circumstances of our industry. 

Another is open mindedness. Every location I’ve worked has been so diverse and it is crucial to be considerate of other cultures.

What is your average day like?

It is really dependent on what I’m working on. My day can range anywhere from working in the Woking design office completing analyses and calculations alongside my team, to supporting structural construction activities in fabrication yards.

What has been the highlight of your time at Petrofac?

I would have to say having the opportunity to go offshore to complete the structural visual surveys for the three platforms in Mexico. This also meant that I was able to complete my offshore survival training here in Houston at the NASA Neutral Buoyancy Lab Training Facility. Not only was the course really enjoyable, I was in the same pool as the astronauts training next to me.  (Back up career plan: astronaut!)

Kirsty offshore

What training and support have you been given?

The support I have had from my department managers, project leads and my mentor has been invaluable, but really I have learnt a little something  from everyone in my team and continue to receive support every step of the way.  My training has been through the great variety of on-the-job experiences and also through the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) courses funded through work.

Are there any travel opportunities? If so, where to?

My work has taken me anywhere from short distances such as Kent to as far as the Americas. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity of two secondments since joining in 2012. Following my first year at Petrofac I was assigned to Gdansk, Poland and am now currently finishing up my assignment in our Houston, Texas office.

What advice would you give to any new graduates who are looking to join Petrofac?

Be yourself.  Also, work hard at everything you do and be proactive. No matter what type of job you are working on or activity you are involved in; ensure that your final product is something you will be proud of.