Entries in france (22)

Tuesday
Dec272011

End of a Chapitre

I arrived in Paris on an evening flight from London. At the airport I would usually collect a reserved car and drive to a small town about two hours away.  This time was different. I will not be needing a car to drive to my French office every morning and back to the hotel in the evening. I was there on a one-day farewell visit. Instead of a rental car, I looked for my name on the customary stained-card carried by the traditionally bored and often overweight taxi driver. Frequent business travelers will know what I mean. To be fair I was greeted by a courteous young gentleman. After a long quiet drive, and as we reached Sens, he asked me with his limited English: 'First time visiting Sens?'. He spoke in a very strong French accent. 'No, but it may well be my last' I replied rather quickly, in an equally strong English accent. I have no explanation. It seems to creep in whenever I'm saying anything serious.

A few years ago I received a call on my mobile out of nowhere offering me a position with an American company. I didn't know anything about FMC Technologies at the time nor the business they're in. Three months and two interviews later, I was looking after the Middle East and UK for one of its divisions. I converted a room adjacent to our dining area which became FMC Loading Systems' Middle East head office since late 2007 - a concept that is still alien to this part of the world. Last year another division was added to my role pushing the limits of any potential promotion in FMC without relocating from Kuwait. Any further advancement would require me to be in the larger, 'proper', regional offices, or in the management office in the USA. At this time in my young family's life, and having personally spent half of mine abroad, we prefer to remain in Kuwait.  Business travel has become more intrusive than it ever was before. I enjoy travel and seeing the world, but looking after the region, visiting head offices in France and the USA has taken its toll. Although I had two periods of very little activity in 2011, I did managed a ridiculous 8 days and 8 hours up in the air covering a distance equivalent to going around the world three and a half times. This was concentrated in only eight months!  It's therefore time to look for a new challenge and one that fits in with our life. I handed in my resignation from FMC in September and last week I completed my notice period and hand-overs.

Photos of sites with FMC equipment would offer a more interesting subject but those are unfortunately owned by the site operators. My largest sale with FMC was here in Kuwait and I would love to have shown a photo of our (their) equipment in Mina Al Ahmadi.  KNPC will probably not be pleased. I therefore chose to capture the very first FMC logo that I set eyes on when I visited the plant in Sens for my second interview. It's not to the corporate standard and will eventually have to be replaced - but I think it has a special charm. It frames a beautiful picture inside of a professional engineering and production team with a manufacturing plant that is one of the best in the world. It's certainly the top manufacturing facility for the equipment it manufactures and years ahead of the competition. FMC was also number one on the 'most admired company' list by Forbes in the oil and gas services segment.

The future for me is a little vague today and will be, God willing, more clear early in the new year. Further education is a certain next step - very soon if not immediately after the new year holiday. This is a realisation of an older dream.  Six years ago I got a job offer from Kuwait University but chose to remain in the oil industry a little longer.  FMC pushed this another four years.  The long term plan is to shift toward consultancy, research and teaching, all of which offer great opportunities to use the modest but relevant industry experience I've gained over the past fifteen years or so. When I was a student, the interesting lecturers were always the ones who lived in the real world and could make theories more relevant with anecdotes and examples. Whatever I end up doing, I shall share it on this blog. Whilst it's not relevant to my photography, I will make sure an image of some sort accompanies any update. Holidays and our annual pilgrimage to London will mean a business-as-usual continuation of home and away photography on this blog.  

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