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Strathclyde Business School

Accelerating my career with the Saltire Foundation

By Olivia McGregor - Posted on 21 August 2014

Saltire Foundation's Scholars Programme.

 I have been lucky enough to represent Strathclyde Business School internationally on more than one occasion over the past year.  As an International Business student, I was thrilled when we were assigned locations for our study abroad programme.  During my third year of university, I called Hong Kong my home and no experience has opened my eyes to the world quite like it.  I studied management and marketing at the Hong Kong Baptist University, whilst discovering all that Asia had to offer.

My unforgettable trip came to an end in May and I prepared for my next adventure on the other side of the world, in Houston, Texas.  I had applied to The Saltire Foundation’s Scholars Programme, aimed at undergraduate students with potential and ambition.  The Saltire Foundation’s mission is to “find, fuel and spark Scotland’s human potential, in turn creating our next generation of business leaders.”  If my application was successful, I hoped to gain challenging work experience that would increase my leadership capacity and enhance my global perspective.  After many nerve-wracking interviews, I found out that I had been accepted.  I would be working at the oil, gas and energy services multinational company, Wood Group.

Wood Group employs more than 43,000 people and operates within 50 countries.  The organisation holds a strong global reputation for delivering high quality service, catering to the numerous, varying needs of the energy industry. I have loved every minute of the diverse, interesting projects I  have worked on, in addition to the Texan way of life. It took a while for the reality to set in that I was working in the headquarters of the USA Wood Group PSN division, in one of the most important oil and gas regions in the world, whilst learning from some of the most talented people in the industry.

It is an extremely important time for the energy sector in the USA right now due to the recent shale gas boom which has been described as an industry game-changer.  Projections indicate that by 2035, the US will be energy self-sufficient, due to drilling technology advancements, particularly hydraulic fracturing, which has opened up reserves that were previously unreachable.  It is an incredible opportunity for me to be part of the developing stages of Wood Group PSN USA during this dynamic period, when the company is continuously seeking new ways to foster creativity, innovation and expertise.

During my Saltire Scholars training, and through talking to mentors at Wood Group, I have learned that networking and relationship building is integral to strong business performance when selling services instead of products.  This experience has let me expand my network in another continent and within the industry that I aspire to develop a career in.

I was glad to hear about the new ‘Strathclyde Oil and Gas Institute’ which has been launched to support the growth of the industry in Scotland.  One of the purposes of this internship is to create strong business relationships between Scotland and the US, strengthening ties, and together creating a more entrepreneurial, innovation-driven industry.  I believe I have learned a great deal about the complex industry from my American hosts and look forward to returning to Scotland and sharing my experiences.

Are you part of a study abroad programme? How much has it has helped you develop your potential? Let us know in the comments below.

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