From Aberdeen to Global Energy Explorer - Christian GibsonChristian Gibson

BSc Geology & Petroleum Geology, 2000
From Aberdeen to Global Energy Explorer

Your Time at Aberdeen

Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
Going to Aberdeen was not my original plan, but it was a fortunate set of circumstances that led me there. Aberdeen came across as a very approachable and friendly university and a couple of friends had also enjoyed studying there.

Why did you choose your particular course?
I came to Aberdeen studying Geography, a subject that I had always loved. I was given some great advice for selecting courses and was advised to follow my passions and give Geology a go as a secondary option. Geology and Petroleum Geology really got me hooked and I realised that this was going to be my passion and, for the first time, saw this as a career I could really aim towards. Throughout my time in Aberdeen I received tremendous support and was given the opportunity to switch to Geology in my third year as my main degree. This involved moving from the arts faculty over to science, not an inconsequential move for someone who had A-Levels in English, History and Geography. However I am eternally grateful for that nurturing, support and guidance that set me on my path today.

What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen? Did you have any particularly memorable student experiences?
Looking back on my time in Aberdeen I have a range of very fond memories and remember a university that was inclusive, friendly and very approachable. My life at the time centred on a close group of friends and a degree which I really enjoyed. My favourite memory has to be meeting my future wife. We met both through our halls of residence and studying Geography in the first year. More than 20 years later we are enjoying a very fulfilling life together. The other memory that comes to mind was being part of the Wine Society at the University. I am not so sure I managed to learn any real deep insights into wine, its provenance and the delicate nuances of its flavours but we did all have a good time!

If talking to a group of prospective students, what advice would you give them to help them make the most of their time at the University of Aberdeen?
The most important piece of advice I would give is that you make your own luck. Luck is really about creating enough opportunities and circumstances where eventually an idea sticks, comes together and succeeds. For me it was when I turned left. I was going to lunch after a Geology class in my second year, I paused, looked left and told my friends that I would catch them up later. Walking into a professor's office, I asked if by any chance there were opportunities coming up in the summer with an oil and gas company. He had only just finished a call with Shell where they had asked for interns. I often wonder what would have happened had I not taken that moment to turn left down the corridor and ask that seemingly random question.

The second piece of advice is that university is, for most, their first foray into the real world and finding out about who you are as an individual. Make the most of this time to discover who you are and be true to that. What you are studying is also setting you up for the next stage in your life after university. So make sure that you pursuing something you love, that engages with you and ignites a real passion.

Your Time After Aberdeen

What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen?
Energy Consultant at Smith Rea Energy.

What did your first role involve?
I was a consultant at a small energy consultancy in London. I was at the company for little over a year and worked on a variety of projects with the UK government or US-based oil and gas firms. It was a fascinating first experience in the job market working with some extremely experienced individuals. It did, however, make me realise that I needed to work within the oil and gas industry myself to gain that experience before consulting on it.
    
What is your current job title?
I am an Explorer in Shell, first and foremost. Specifically, right now I am an Exploration Manager and this gives me the huge privilege of leading and overseeing exploration in Norway.

What is your current role?
My teams look for opportunities to safely explore for hydrocarbons, but more recently the scope has expanded to include carbon sequestration.

Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
My first job, even though it was short, gave me an important business context and lens to what I wanted to do as a career. Entering Shell in 2002, I have had a wide range of experiences across a number of different locations. Each role I have taken I have always asked myself what skills I will pick up and what unique aspect will it add to me as a professional and individual. Exploring for hydrocarbons has taken me around the world to places such as Brunei, Netherlands, Houston and Bolivia. Now in Norway as Exploration Manager, I have seen my industry enter a new and exciting phase revolving around energy transition where we not only explore for hydrocarbons but also for places to store CO2 and reach the goals from the Paris Agreement.

Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
My degree was the perfect platform for entering the oil and gas industry. In many ways it felt like an apprenticeship for the job I would eventually do. The industry links were extremely important in teaching the right skills and tools that I would need to be successful.

One Top Tip

Do not be afraid to ask a question, do not be afraid to admit there is something you do not know, and do not be afraid to fail at something. When starting out you won't be given the biggest and best projects, but you will be given opportunities to seek and follow threads of ideas. Maximise these opportunities, listening and learning from the experience that surrounds you. Be the humble learner energised from new experiences.