When Christer Andersen arrived in Hammerfest, Norway, the northernmost town in the world, on a three-year assignment with Tenaris as a supply chain analyst, he was a little bit in shock. It was remote, it was freezing, and it was a new kind of work and life. There was much to adjust to at 71 degrees North.
Andersen, an economics graduate, had begun his career at another company in his hometown of Stavanger, Norway, operating forklifts in a Tenaris yard while studying. But he was interested in joining a global venture such as Tenaris, so when the opportunity came up for an assignment with the company in Hammerfest, he agreed to take it and he quickly learned how to adjust. “The logistics were so important because nothing was nearby. In such a remote place, we had to anticipate everything, to have a contingency plan for the contingency plan.”
Andersen managed the incoming products to be received, inspected, sorted, and shipped out to offshore locations. He was working with a recently developed product at the time: pipes with Dopeless® technology, which allows pipes to connect without the need for a lubricant. However, the deployment of this new technology required extra attention, as this was the first project in the region to use 100% of pipes with Dopeless® technology, and they were operating under extreme weather conditions, sometimes as low as −20 degrees Celsius. “Whenever we had to fabricate accessories or repair any joints, the logistics were demanding as we were 2,000 km away from the nearest Tenaris service center,” says Andersen.
What’s more, the volume at Hammerfest was growing for Tenaris. When Andersen arrived, the site supported few exploration wells a year. However, the project moved to a development phase, and offshore development wells are more sophisticated and demanding; his skills grew as the project did.
Hammerfest was also a change in lifestyle. In the winter, the sun does not go above the horizon and in summer, it doesn’t set. The community is welcoming, and people enjoy snowmobiling and in April and May, a little ice fishing. “By June, there’s still snow on the car,” said Andersen. The streets of Hammerfest are heated with excess heat from the energy plant, and reindeer roam the streets. The Northern Lights are visible throughout the winter. “Every day, I’d see some green in the sky,” said Andersen.
What Andersen especially values about his time in Hammerfest was finding and flexing his own tenacity. “You become receptive to change.”
After three years in the most northern city in the world, Tenaris had more change in mind for Andersen. His next project would be out of the site operations and logistics and into the office, working in business coordination. That wasn’t the only change: his new workplace was 7,489 kilometers south, in Dubai.
“Tenaris said they sent me there to heat me up!” said Andersen. He felt the contrast in almost every arena. He went from being in an isolated site, working on one project at a time with very few people, to a fast-paced office in a global city where he managed multiple projects at once, coordinating with a host of colleagues.
“After Hammerfest, I had to readjust to interacting with people in an office environment,” said Andersen. “For the first six months of my tenure in Dubai, I didn’t really speak; my colleagues called me the Shy Norwegian guy. I also found myself surrounded by very intelligent people from all over the world.” He was deeply impressed with his colleagues and their business skills. Again, he found himself wondering what he was there for and what he brought to the table. In time, it became clear that while his colleagues had depth of experience in contracts, Andersen had depth of experience onsite, which proved valuable time and again in foreseeing needs. Dubai, he saw, “was like two years of business school.” And after two years there, his life changed again. Andersen moved back to his hometown of Stavanger, now working in sales on the commercial side.
Andersen found mentors along the way as he had the chance to work with many senior directors, and he learned something from each of them.
From working with Senior Director Andrea Pirovano, his former supervisor who was in charge of the North Sea and Africa at the time, Andersen recalls, “Andrea gave me very good input on how to use critical thinking to be very prepared on any topic both on internal and external meetings.” He embraced a rational approach towards problem solving that was applicable to multiple scenarios and environments.
As Andersen has moved into a leadership and management role in Stavanger as the country manager in Norway, Tenaris appointed Francisco Zini, vice president of supply chain, to be Andersen’s mentor through a formal program. “Franciso’s experience in leading big teams has really helped shift my mindset on how to support and lead my team.”
With such diverse experiences across departments and across the globe at Tenaris, tenacity, flexibility, and a willingness to grow and change are essential, Andersen has found. They are qualities that make life richer, both in and out of the office, no matter the weather.