In the fifth – and the first of this year – article of our Meet the Experts series, we introduce Mike Kelly, one of our senior business managers based in the UK. Mike joined us in 2010 as part of the fluid power division and progressed to the role of a subject matter expert (SME) in this field.
Over the past 14 years, he has occupied various positions in different areas. Reflecting on his professional journey, he recalls, "One of the key shifts in my career wasn't voluntary. I was relocated from a department I had enjoyed working in for years, and I wasn't sure about taking this path. Ironically, that move turned out to be the best decision for my career.”
Curious to delve into further details about his journey with us and the diverse roles Mike has undertaken across the business? Dive into the full interview below!
Could you share some information about your educational background and an overview of your professional journey with us?
I hold a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Aberdeen. Following a three-year tenure at a local and small mechanical handling business, I joined the company in 2010. My journey here has been pretty diverse, starting in the fluid power division and advancing to a fluid power SME role in 2013. In this position, I actively participated in numerous offshore ventures, contributing to upgrade projects' development and providing support for breakdowns to ongoing UK offshore operations. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to travel extensively and collaborate with a multitude of clients, offering diverse services on a global scale. This included spending several months at the Sparrows manufacturing plant in Houston (US), where I contributed to the design, construction, and commissioning of newly offshore pedestal cranes.
In 2017, I transitioned into the managed contract (MC) realm, offering hydraulic support to this area. A few years later, I decided to broaden my skill set and joined the business team as a senior customer support (CSE) engineer and the primary client focal point. This role exposed me to numerous opportunities, including leading our strategy team. Subsequently, I became a business manager, providing support to a key client during a critical plugging and abandonment (P&A) phase. Finally, in 2023, I took the role of senior business manager for one of our managed contract teams in the UK.
Please outline some of the key responsibilities that shaped your daily routine in your current role.
Continuous improvement is a major part of my role. As a service-oriented company, we are fully dedicated to meeting the high standards set by our organisation and, of course, exceeding our client’s expectations whenever possible.
Another primary focus is on personnel development. Recognising that our people are a fundamental strength at Altrad Sparrows, a significant aspect of my role also involves fostering the growth of my team.
Last but certainly not least, HSEQ is a paramount concern. I have consistently taken a proactive approach to champion the safety standards advocated across the business. With a keen focus on participation, my goal is to continuously integrate our team into the broader worksite safety culture, ensuring each employee returns home safely.
What’s one thing you would want people to know about what you do at Altrad Sparrows?
It's not just about what I do; it's more about the overall company portfolio. I believe our achievements in crane operation and maintenance have led to the perception that Altrad Sparrows is primarily a crane company. However, it's crucial to emphasise that we provide an extensive range of services across diverse industries. I am eager to push the message that we have a broad array of in-house engineering and offshore service offerings, enabling us to meet the diverse needs of our clients. It's rewarding to observe how we can contribute to solving new challenges for our clients.
Over your journey at the company, could you tell us about one challenging project you were involved in and the factors that made it particularly demanding?
It is really difficult to narrow this answer down. The very nature of the service offerings and work locations we have means there is a significant challenge in almost everything we do. However, if I were to select one, it would be the takeover of an existing contract amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Leading a new team, implementing changes, and navigating through a global pandemic presented significant challenges. Despite the hurdles, the company showcased its adaptability and I'm proud that we pulled together as a team to meet and exceed the client's expectations for service delivery during such a tough time.
Is there anything specific you would have approached differently in your career? If so, what would it be?
My biggest regret in my career is being too comfortable in my current role and not taking opportunities sooner. One of the key shifts in my career wasn't voluntary. I was relocated from a department I had enjoyed working in for years, and I wasn't initially sure about taking this path. Ironically, that move turned out to be the best decision for my career. It opened numerous doors and provided the platform for me to be in the position I am in today. I would encourage anyone not 100% convinced about their next career move to embrace change, challenge their capabilities and take opportunities that come up because you never know when they might come around again.
Last but not least, how would you sum up your expertise?
Varied! I have been given a variety of opportunities onshore, offshore and internationally across different departments. The diverse range of challenges and projects have provided me with a great platform to develop within the organisation, and I look forward to seeing what my next challenge will be!