Meet the team: a Q&A with Claire Spence, Business Development Engineer

16 January 2020 by Aubin Group

1. Tell us about your role - what does an average week look like for you?

“My role is in business development, which involves gathering leads to generate new business but also I spend a lot of time managing and solving current client enquiries. I’m particularly focused on pipeline and waste management which means I focus more on our EVO-Pigs and emulsion breakers. 

“On a day-to-day basis my job involves a lot of meetings; external and internal, between clients and our chemists and they can be technical or more informative - I have a nice variety. As my previous role was based in the lab, I enjoy getting to be part of the technical meetings and devise solutions for the clients problems.


“I also deal with a lot of creating proposals and quotes with a bit of account management for the long-term clients we have. Depending on the day, what my day will look like can vary - I don’t think any two days are the same.”


2. What do you enjoy most about your job?


“The fact that I get to meet a lot of people on a daily basis. I’m a people person so I think going to meetings and talking to people is one of the best things about business development - it’s all about human interaction.


“I also like the fact that I’m not just being the sales person; I get to be involved with the solution and can take a project from the very beginning all the way through to the end. I think that’s the advantage of getting to work for a small company. 


“I also think it’s great getting to interact with everyone internally as well - I get to talk to logistics and supply chain consistently, and I’ve also got to make sure the chemists have all the information they need from the client. Aubin has really good communication channels, and that’s another advantage of working here and it being such a small company. Even with the directors, you can ask them a question any day and it’s not intimidating at all.”


3. What are some of the biggest challenges you face day-to-day and how do you overcome them?


“You have to deal with a lot of different types of people who communicate in different ways. Sometimes the hardest thing I find is that I am quite young and new in oil and gas and I’m dealing with very experienced people in the industry. It can be hard to assert yourself and be confident in knowing what you’re talking about with people who have been in the industry for over 20 years.


“I think to overcome that you just have to stand your ground and know that you’re the person who knows most about the product. When I started in business development, I had no confidence going out and speaking to clients. I worked with Andy and Ali and they really brought out my confidence by taking me along with them to meetings so I could listen to what they were saying and learn from it.


“In a role like this, I think you also have to remember that sometimes people may sound blunt, especially in emails, but they’re actually just getting to the point. So just phone them up, ask exactly what they need, reassure them and make sure you’re doing everything you can to meet their needs. 


“I’m definitely at that point now, where more people are starting to listen to me because I’ve been working in this role for longer and have more experience in it. Everyone is different, so you do have to be a chameleon sometimes to deal with all these different types of people.” 



4. What's your favourite product or project you have worked on, and why?


“My favourite project is one we conducted for a large operator, which involved making the largest ever EVO-pig to remove a tool that was stuck in a pipeline. It was one of the biggest projects Aubin had and one of my first pipeline projects, so it was a plunge right into the deep end. 


“There were things going wrong, things going right, we would suddenly have to drop everything and plan trials to see if our concepts would work.


“The best part about this project was that I got to work so closely with the sales director, and that was what helped me develop my business development skills. I learned how to project manage because Andy was project managing the whole project and I was working alongside him. 


“It was really fast-paced and involved a lot of extra hours, but I think that was the best thing that ever happened to me in BD. Thankfully, as a team we managed to do everything that was required for the client.”


5. What led you into the role you’re in today? 


“I did a chemistry degree at Aberdeen University, then started at Aubin when I graduated and spent about three years working in the lab on various products.


“During my last year as a chemist, I worked on our OSB emulsion breaker range. This is when I worked closely with our BD manager - I went out to a lot of meetings, started to talk directly to clients, and started building a strong relationship with them. 


“I soon realised that I actually quite liked liaising with clients and talking to them about the solutions, so I eventually progressed into moving up to the business development role that I’m in today.


“I would say that one of the best things about working at Aubin is their options for progression. If they see something in you, they will really help you progress, which makes it a great place for young people to work in. If you want to adapt in the company, the team is more than happy to try and facilitate that and push you to where you should be.”



6. Why did you decide to pursue this as a career?


“To be honest, it was my mum that encouraged me to study chemistry. When I was younger I was really good at science, so when I didn’t know what I wanted to do at uni my mum said ‘why don’t you do chemistry?’


“I guess, living in Aberdeen the obvious progression was then into the oil and gas industry, which is what led me into working in the labs at Aubin and now in the business development role I’m in today.


“Eventually I want to progress further but right now I’m still quite young and you need to take each step at a time and work in business development to learn how to learn another skill.”


7. What top 3 skills or traits do you think someone needs to pursue a role like this?


Good communication skills are very important - you have to be able to talk to everyone and go into a room where you don’t know anyone and try to make friends. That was something I struggled with in the beginning. Even now, I still sometimes get nervous going into a room where I don’t know anyone. But I think a lot of our client relationships come from our business development team having such good communication skills - that’s normally why clients come to us, as people are more drawn to you if they like you.


“I’d also say determination is important, because sales aren’t just going to fall into your lap. You have to learn that you need to hunt for it, go out, keep chatting to people, keep pursuing it, and be persistent. Sometimes it will take a day and then a PO will come in, sometimes it will take 6 months to work on it, build that relationship and then the PO comes to you. One day you might have a PO, the next day you might lose it. It’s very up and down so you need to just keep going.


“You also have to be adaptive. You can’t go into a meeting with a firm plan in your head; you have to be reactive to the situation because anything can change. One day you might think the PO is coming in, the next minute the client wants to change it and you have to make a turnaround as fast as you can. In BD, you’re the client interface, so you have to be quick and adaptive, make sure everything is getting done, update the client, and communicate what’s going on with them. If you don’t, that’s when the relationships will suffer.”


8. What is it like working at Aubin?


“Its great, I think at Aubin, the people who work here are what makes it. We’re quite a small team, so we all know each other well. The team is handpicked, so everyone who works at Aubin are chosen because they will fit with the team and get on well with everyone - Lindsay started at the same time as me and she’s now one of my closest friends.


“Since we all communicate really well, things can get done a lot faster because of that which keeps us really agile as a company. You can also go and talk to the directors as well, whereas at a lot of other companies you would just be too intimidated.


“I’m in BD and I’m still learning, but I’m getting to learn from the sales directors and not a lot of other people would have that opportunity. It’s definitely been one of the best things about working here.”


9. What do you think makes Aubin successful, or stand out in the marketplace?


“I think it’s the fact that we’re a solutions-based company, which makes us very flexible when it comes to creating solutions for clients. For every enquiry we get in, it’s not just an off-the-shelf purchase. We’ll sit with the client, make sure that we come up with the best option and make a sale off the back of that. Other people would want to just make a sale and sell the product, but that’s not how we work.


“If a client asks for an EVO-Pig, for example, we’ll always ask a series of questions. We want to make sure that we give every client the best option and that our product is represented correctly. The only way we can do that is if we work with them and understand their needs.


“For a job that we did in the past for an operator, they came in asking for a barrier but we ended up giving them one of our AXI-Lock products - it’s a gel that goes into a pipe and hardens, which was quite a new concept for them.


“I think that’s what sets us apart as a company; it’s all about working with the client. You can’t just sell the product, unless the client knows it inside out, which does happen over time. But initially, we have to do a lot of work in listening to what the client needs and coming up with a solution that’s right for them.


Topics: The Aubin team

Get in touch with the team