Sword Appoint Jared Owen - Energy Sector Digital Services Lead

Sword is delighted to announce the appointment of Jared Owen to lead our Digital Services to the Energy Sector. Jared joins Sword’s growing team concentrating on our digital consulting, project, and managed services portfolio. He will provide focus in this area to our customers in Oil and Gas and Renewables, driving the business outcomes they need through the adoption of transformative technologies and approaches.

Sword’s Digital Services target real-world business challenges. Our success is built upon our existing IT and data capability and over 30-years’ experience in the subsurface, production, engineering, and corporate domains. We believe in close collaboration with our customers to make practical recommendations for change, using common toolkits to develop long-lasting and repeatable solutions. We understand how to get the most out of modern workplace and cloud enabled technologies and have developed unique blueprints for applying these in our industry. Sword is committed to demonstrating value quickly and making a real difference from day one.

Jared has been heavily engaged in the North-East of Scotland’s digital sector and energy industry’s digitalisation drive in recent years. He was a leader and co-sponsor of the first UKCS Data and Digital Maturity survey in 2020, as well as the architect of the 2021 EnergyTech programme, a partnership between Opportunity North East, Barclays Eagle Labs, and Codebase, driving cultural change in the energy industry and creating a digital innovation bridge between the digital and energy sectors.

Dave Bruce, CEO at Sword UK, says: “We are proud of our position as an energy industry market leader for business technology solutions. By bringing Jared into our team and with the creation of our focused digital practice for energy, we are committed to supporting the industry through its transition, to leading data driven digital outcomes that open new opportunities through technology, and to maximising the efficiency of our customers.”

Jared says: “I am excited to join Sword at this critical time for the energy industry. I have been fortunate to see first-hand the capability, support, and collaboration the North-East digital sector has provided over the years and Sword is a major influencing factor in that. For me, digital adoption and maturity are broken down into the three inter-linked pillars of data, platforms, and systems of intelligence and Sword really understands that. It’s critical to the continued success of the industry that our digital solutions are built on strong data foundations and few companies can compare to Sword’s end to end capability and scale.”   

For more information about Sword, visit www.sworditsolutions.com.

Today we’re shining the spotlight on recently appointed, Sector Technology Consulting Lead, Helen Ratcliffe who makes up an integral part of our Energy Sector leadership team.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey before joining Sword?

I have been really privileged in my career to work with some of the world’s largest Energy companies, IOCs, NOCs and some clients in the supply chain as well. I have experience in Pharmaceuticals and have provided services to a very large busy airport. My employers have ranged from large technology focused systems integrators to boutique consultancies. For the past 20 years I have focussed on Consulting; this has provided me the privilege of seeing many different organisations from the inside, helping me experience a wide view of their businesses. I have put my effort into a range of technical and business focussed initiatives, always with business outcomes for the client at the forefront.

Looking forward to the rest of this year, what big issues do you expect to help our customers address?

Digitalisation is on everyone’s mind, some organisations are advanced and have a great track record already, others are just embarking on the journey. Bringing together strong consultative skills, the fundamentals of data and information, deep domain and experience, I think we can help move the oil and gas industry forward.

Why did you choose to progress your career with Sword?

Sword have a great set of capabilities, skills and a strong track record over many years in Oil & Gas as well as Utilities and Public Sector.  Why wouldn’t I want to work with a company that couples that with a great growth record and values that I really believe in. Sword really care about client’s businesses, ensuring that our highly valued employees all contribute towards keeping things simple and doing the right thing by our customers.

You have joined Sword at an exciting time for the business, what services and specialties do Sword provide in your region to energy customers?

Sword delivers practical business support to our customers in Energy. Spanning Oil & Gas, the Energy Transition, and Renewables, we provide day to day operational support, digital solution deployment, transition projects, and technical consultancy. Our expertise runs from IT, business technology, and infrastructure, to subsurface, production, engineering and corporate data and information.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to women thinking about their careers in the Energy Sector?

Over the past 35 years I have seen the Sector move, slowly at first and more rapidly over recent years to address diversity. The Energy sector has re-invented itself; it is no longer all about the heavy industry aspects often portrayed in media and film.  While this aspect is still a reality for key parts of the industry; science, technology, innovation, and business acumen have come into public focus. The Energy sector needs new talent and Women can play a major part.

What does the International Women’s Day 2021 slogan, #ChooseToChallenge mean for you in your work life?

Diversity of thinking in any team is very desirable. Don’t be afraid to share your thinking, sometimes people will agree with you, sometimes they will not. If you don’t give them the chance how will you know!    

Read on to learn more about careers with Sword or our Information Management solutions.

Find out more about International Woman’s Day 2021.

Today we’re shining the spotlight on Neil Constantine, who leads our Asia Pacific business, based in Perth.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you did before joining Sword Venture?

I have been fortunate in my career to work roles and projects taking me to many parts of the world. Before joining Sword Venture, I was working for an oil and gas operator in Denmark co-ordinating data and information management services across their HQ and regional offices. It is this combination of technical work and scale that excites me and led to me to take up the role in Sword Venture where I could work with multiple clients across a diverse region.

What services do Sword provide in your region to energy customers?

We help operators and regulators maximise their return on investment in data and technology. We perform current state assessments and define change programmes and governance models that build data and information capability aligned to business objectives. We undertake projects including data conditioning, applications rationalisation and EDMS migrations using proprietary data analytics techniques to deliver fast, accurate and scalable results. Not least, we continue our 30-year track record of applications support and data and information loading services across exploration, development and production activities with Sword Venture staff working onsite or from our Perth Technical Centre.

What kind of projects do you work on and what does a typical day entail for you at Sword?

I can start the day at 7am on the phone to Houston, New Zealand or east coast Australia, and finish by talking to the UK at 10pm. Much of my focus is building Sword Venture’s global network and using our broad discipline coverage to benefit our clients with access to diverse skills and experience and to provide growth and learning opportunities for our staff.

Alongside this I am still ‘hands on’ with many of our technical projects, with one recent example being mapping the data model for a seismic metadata migration from a relational database to SharePoint, and another the building of a governance and delivery model to support a global data service squad for an IOC.

This global reach has long days, but I balance this with morning surf lessons for my daughter at the beach and lunch time runs around Kings Park just a few minutes from our office!

You regularly present at conferences representing Sword Venture. Tell us about a recent presentation and what the audience were keen to hear?

Everyone in our industry knows these are challenging times with an unprecedented combination of regulatory, environmental and commodity price pressures. This drives conversation around what re-skilling is needed to ensure we remain relevant in the Energy Transition. I frequently present on the role that data analytics and data engineering must play in building efficiency in today’s oil and gas industry and how this capability relates to growth areas including renewables and CCUS. 

Looking to the new year, what big issues do you expect to help our customers address?

It is hard to have a conversation without mentioning Digital Transformation! What is interesting is that we are working up the Hype Curve with real value to be achieved now from new technologies and capabilities. In 2021 we will continue to work with clients to help balance legacy technology and application spend with on-demand and flexible access to broad capability.

Secondly, there are still large volumes of legacy data and information that need attention. This is amplified by recent cuts in exploration activity and increasing regulatory limitation to where we can explore and produce causing us to take a revised look at existing assets and data. Whilst we have tools and compute to squeeze these data more extensively than ever before, interpretation outcomes are still constrained by the condition and uncertainty of the input data. I hate to keep banging this drum, but it’s true!

Can you tell us about a successful outcome on a customer project that made you feel proud?

It is a cliched answer, but I can’t choose one! When I moved to Australia six years ago our business was focussed on the provision of operational support on a long-term T&M basis. We would put individual staff into client offices and they would do great work. But in the last few years, our clients’ needs have moved from service to projects, requiring specific skills delivered on a defined timeframe by largely self-managed teams. We have pivoted our approach and added new technology and delivery skills to complement our domain experience. Each project has its unique challenges but we’ve built a broad portfolio of proprietary capability that we deploy to guarantee successful project outcomes and keep us all proud of what we deliver.

What would you say to someone considering a role with us in your region?

Do it. You will learn more working with Sword colleagues and clients from the Middle East, across Asia and through Australia and New Zealand than you will in any other company. There are plenty of new customers and markets for us to go after and it would be great to have you help us achieve this!

Read on to learn more about careers with Sword or our Information Management solutions.

Today we’re shining the spotlight on Craig Fitch, Application Support Analyst who is part of our Sword Resolve Applications Team, based in Aberdeen.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you did before joining Sword?

I have worked across various IT disciplines for over 10 years now, building strong problem solving, communications, technical and team building skills. Before joining Sword’s Resolve team in September 2020, I worked as a senior system engineer in the energy and infrastructure market.

Prior to that, I worked for nearly 8 years for a family-owned business who provide safety and competency support for hazardous industries around the world. As an Application Support Executive, I worked as a key member of a small team and enjoyed supporting, training and developing their software products to continually help meet customer demand.

My hobbies include time with the family, walking, hiking and regularly going to the gym (when they are open). I’m also a lover of music, cinema and occasionally turning on the Playstation.

You joined Sword Resolve’s Applications Team during lockdown, how did you find the onboarding process and starting a new position working from home?

I’ve been working as part of the Resolve Application Support team on one of our major oil operator contracts since I joined. Starting a new role remotely has actually been fairly challenge free; I was introduced to the team who very quickly took me under their wings and showed me the ropes. I was picking up tasks and learning on the job within days of starting, and I truly couldn’t have asked for a more supportive group of people. Any questions I’ve had are answered quickly and they have been extremely proactive in showing me different aspects of the job and how to use the tools available to us. This has all been done over Microsoft Teams using calls, chat and screen sharing.

What challenges have you faced while working remotely and how have you overcome them?

The most challenging aspects of working remotely haven’t come from the job itself, it’s more the typical problems everyone is facing during the pandemic and lockdown; home schooling children, everyone being inside and feeling like you are staring at the same four walls each day.

To overcome these challenges my partner and I create timetables for the kids for their schoolwork and make sure to get out for walks whenever possible.

Regular calls with colleagues for catch ups to talk about work and other things such as hobbies and interests help massively. Checking in on one another too really helps, so if someone isn’t saying much on a call or throughout the day, it doesn’t take much to send them a personal message and make sure they are ok.

Why did you choose to progress your career with Sword?

I was fortunate that when the job offer came through from Sword, I had also received offers from other companies, however Sword was ahead of the pack in my view. The conversations I had during the interview process gave me a good picture of the Sword culture, showing the friendly and professional type of business Sword is and the types of customers we interact with.

Having been here for only a few months I’m already having conversations about how I can increase my knowledge, and how I can help to support the Resolve team by building on some of my prior experience.

What would you say to someone considering a role at Sword?

Sword has an outstanding onboarding process where you feel supported and part of the team very quickly, at no point have I felt overwhelmed or that I didn’t know who to speak to for support.

From what I have seen so far and from conversations with others within Sword, whether you are new to IT or an IT professional, Sword have the experience to help you to learn your new role quickly and provide plenty of support. They are also very aware that times are tough for people and are flexible to employee needs.

Read on to learn more about careers with Sword, our Resolve IT service desk and managed IT services or for more information on Sword Resolve’s business cases.

We turn the Sword Spotlight on Sam Omidi, who recently joined the Energy team as a Data Scientist. Here he talks us through a little background and reflections on his first few months with Sword.

“I think the most surprising thing I’ve learned is that I’m not a fake data scientist among real ones. They call them unicorns for a reason. I can now say with confidence that I can code and I do know software development lifecycle and statistics. Without these skills, life as a data scientist would be difficult and one would struggle a lot. In general, people have their strengths and experience in one or two things and are weaker at others. I now believe a data scientist needs to know more than just a couple of things. They need to know how to handle out-of-memory errors, data structures, and expectation maximization or where heteroscedasticity is coming from.

“I switched into a focus on data science and machine learning during my final year project in my bachelor degree by working on a data mining project and social network analysis. This interest truly materialised when I got Masters in Data Science.

“I joined Sword three months ago as I found the team very passionate about their work. Also, the projects they are working on are very unique and exciting.

“I got heavily involved in my first week with designing a data pipeline and evaluating various novelty detection algorithm, along with my lead. It has been absolutely fantastic seeing myself hitting the ground running from the start and feeling part of the team immediately.

“Additionally, in the subsequent projects I had a chance to boost my knowledge about neural networks and focus my research on them, developing more in-depth understanding.

“A typical day for me starts around 8:00am, when I catch up on my social media accounts related to machine learning and data science. I switch into work projects around 8:30am and finish around 5:00pm with a break for lunch. About 40% of my time is spent on research and development, with a strong focus in mathematics to be able to understand what is actually happening under the hood of every algorithm that might be a good candidate for our project. The work involves anything from developing and testing new algorithms to writing mathematical proofs to simplify data problems. 

“Another 30% of my time is spent on research about best coding practice in data science, which often identifies problems related to data capture, data pipelines or specific implementation of an algorithm with needed modifications. This is probably one of the most crucial aspects of the job. As a data scientist, it is important to communicate with a wide range of stakeholders, so it helps simplify my explanations of machine learning algorithms to a layman's level.

“The other 20% of my time is meeting with my colleagues. We discuss the projects and support each other on our tasks.

“Each project is unique, and I try to let the project and its initial findings guide me to next steps. I mainly use Python and Azure platforms for projects, though R, and SAS are occasionally helpful with specific packages or R&D requests. I can usually recycle the code, but each problem has its own assumptions and data limitations with respect to the mathematics. 

“Overall, it has been a great start and I am looking forward to what the future will hold for me and the team.

Read on to learn more about careers with Sword or our Information Management solutions.

Data science

In the second of our new series of Sword Spotlight articles, we talk to Gillian Innes, who recently joined Sword’s Oil & Gas team as a Service Delivery Manager based in Aberdeen.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you did before joining Sword?

I’ve worked consistently in IT, across a mix of IT service providers and in-house IT teams. For several years I concentrated mainly on delivering technology projects however I am really enjoying a return to the operational side and focusing on IT service delivery. Having worked both as a contractor and as ‘staff’, I’m really enjoying becoming embedded with a company whose ethos I respect.

What does an average day entail for you at Sword?

As a Service Delivery Manager (SDM), I’m responsible for the client relationship with one of our major global energy companies to deliver their core IT services and a few projects for more substantial change initiatives. The majority of our team are largely based on the client site in Aberdeen, apart from the IT service desk team who are based in our city centre offices. However, we have been in lockdown since I joined so we are all currently working remotely, which is a different way of working for all of us. We are always fine tuning our delivery via internal process improvements and making sure we keep on top of the client’s priorities.

What do you enjoy about working at Sword?

I genuinely love it all! Even though I have joined Sword at the most surreal time, there is a real team feeling that permeates while we are all working at home. Everyone has been extremely welcoming, and it really helps that I have worked with many of the management team and my peers in previous roles in Aberdeen. Trusting those around me has meant the potential challenges of starting a new role during lockdown have not been an issue and together we are delivering a united service to our clients.

Tell us about a work-related achievement that made you feel proud?

Joining Sword the day before lockdown started added to the intensity of starting a new job, especially as I needed to build a relationship with my client over the phone throughout a period of unplanned upheaval. In response to lockdown, the global energy company that I’m SDM for needed help to support their hundreds of people who normally work in an Aberdeen office to switch to working from home. I’m impressed with the way our teams have risen to the challenge and we have had fantastic feedback from our client, which is a great way to start a new job!

Why did you choose to progress your career with Sword? 

Sword is clearly growing at an impressive rate and that brings lots of interesting opportunities. It’s inspiring to see Sword adapting to the changing world around us and understanding the way our focus is evolving, such as Neale Stidolph’s work in energy transition. It makes Sword an exciting company to be involved with as we continue see new ways that we can use technology to help transform our energy client’s operations.

What would you say to someone considering a role at Sword?

There are so many opportunities and ways to progress that I would definitely encourage others to apply. This might sound corny but there really is a family feel here at Sword. The management structure and their communications are spot on, they have a real personal touch that is hard to describe but really works to motivate us all to work together as a team and strive to do the best we can for our clients.

Read on to learn more about careers with Sword or our Business Technology solutions.

In the first of our new series of Sword Spotlight articles, we talk to Service Desk Analyst Erik Avdulov about how he is finding life as a recent graduate in our Oil & Gas centre in Aberdeen.

Erik Avdulov

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you did before joining Sword?

“I joined Sword in July 2019 fresh from studying software development at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. Leaving my lecturers behind for my first graduate job, I’ve really appreciated how helpful all the managers and my colleagues have been at inducting me into the working world of business technology solutions and providing training that is a natural extension of my degree.”

How has an average day at Sword changed for you in your time with us?

“Like most new graduates at Sword, I joined the IT Service Desk, Resolve. After 6 months I was delighted to move onto PowerBI development projects and I’m finding the mix really interesting. I usually start my day with a coffee and check my emails to catch up on items that have come from offshore overnight. Depending on customer requirements, I either work at Sword’s Aberdeen city centre offices or out on Oil & Gas customer sites (at the moment I’m obviously working from home like the rest of lockdown office workers!).”

What do you enjoy about working at Sword?

“I work on a mix of first line (IT service desk) and second line support (usually on customer sites) which I do enjoy, but I find the development work the most stimulating. One of the best things about working at Sword is that when you prove yourself to be capable and hardworking, you know you’ll be rewarded.”

Tell us about a work-related achievement that made you feel proud?

“An important part of Sword’s service delivery process is seeking customer feedback and I really thrive on receiving perfect scores as well as the comments that customers are kind enough to provide. Being promoted into development work after only 6 months in my first graduate job also rates pretty highly on my achievements!”

How is your career progressing working at Sword? 

“There are opportunities everywhere at Sword; my promotion into development work has opened up so many opportunities to work with new people in our business. The demands for new ways of working from Sword’s range of Energy sector customers is also opening up opportunities in some really ground-breaking projects.”

What would you say to someone considering a role at Sword?

“Don’t be afraid to join from the lowest position. Graduates may feel qualified to start at a higher development role, however they need to learn broader business skills to succeed in a job like that. If you do well and show you’re capable, you will make your way up and forge a career in technology that is fun, challenging and rewarding.”

Read on to learn more about careers with Sword or our Business Technology solutions (including our IT Service Desk Resolve).

We are looking for suitably qualified Document Controllers to work across our O&G client sites in Aberdeen.

We are currently interested in filling the following Document Control positions:

Role outline:

The following skills and experience must be demonstrated:

If you have the relevant experience and are interested in this position, please contact Malcolm Grant in the first instance.

Our client  partners with private and public sector organisations across Finance, Energy, Manufacturing, Media and Government who count on their teams to deliver innovative solutions and services.

They are currently interested in speaking with Dynamics CRM Developers across a number of UK locations who are available to undertake their next contract opportunity.

If you have agile development experience within the .NET Framework as well as the ability to analyse business processes and translate them into effective CRM solutions with experience of Microsoft Dynamics 2013, 2015 or 2016 configuration and customisation then we want to hear from you.

For a confidential discussion regards this opportunity please contact Malcolm Grant.

Our client is looking for a best in class Data Platform / BI Consultant to join their team.

They partner with private and public sector organisations across Finance, Energy, Manufacturing, Media and Government who count on their teams to deliver innovative solutions and services.

Actively collaborating with Microsoft in the delivery of challenging transformational programmes, they have ambitious plans to develop their existing teams as their business continues to grow. They understand that their success is built on working with great people who are enthusiastic about the technologies that they deliver.

They believe in providing engaging opportunities, rewarding innovation and supporting ongoing professional development and accreditation.

To join their highly regarded technical team you will be skilled in scoping, designing, configuring and delivering cutting edge data solutions for external clients. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate first class technical ability, a passion for Data Architecture, Data Warehousing and ETL and a desire to work at the forefront of innovative technologies.

From a technical perspective, here’s what we’re looking for…

This will be a client facing role and ideally you will be able to demonstrate effective client engagement skills, significant exposure to the analysis of customer requirement and involvement in the pre-sales process.

For a confidential discussion regards this opportunity please contact Malcolm Grant.

Our client is looking for a best in class Azure Cloud Architect to join their team.

They partner with private and public sector organisations across Finance, Energy, Manufacturing, Media and Government who count on their teams to deliver innovative solutions and services.

Actively collaborating with Microsoft in the delivery of challenging transformational programmes, they have ambitious plans to develop their existing teams as their business continues to grow. They understand that their success is built on working with great people who are enthusiastic about the technologies that they deliver.

They believe in providing engaging opportunities, rewarding innovation and supporting ongoing professional development and accreditation.

To join their highly regarded technical team you will be skilled in scoping, designing, configuring and delivering cutting edge Cloud Architecture solutions for external clients. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate first class technical ability, previous delivery of enterprise level solutions  and a desire to work at the forefront of innovative technologies.

From a technical perspective, here’s what we’re looking for…

•       Exam 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions

•       Knowledge and experience of Azure IaaS/PaaS

•       Knowledge and experience of Azure AD

•       Knowledge and experience of Azure Backup/Recovery

•       Knowledge and experience of Azure Networking and Storage (inc ExpressRoute)

•       Proven ability to plan and design migrations to Public/Hybrid cloud platforms

This will be a client facing role and ideally you will be able to demonstrate effective client engagement skills, significant exposure to the analysis of customer requirement and involvement in the pre-sales process.

For a confidential discussion regards this opportunity please contact Malcolm Grant in the first instance.

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