I always think the best place to start is to tell me who you are.
My name is Stefan Lindholm and I’m a Workshop Supervisor here at IK-Group. I was born in Finland and lived there for 22 years. At 22 I moved to Sweden, stayed for three years and then I have been living in Norway since 1995. I'm married with two grown-up daughters who are 23 and 25. We really enjoy living here and I love this oil industry and what I do here at IK.
Outside of work I put a lot of hours into quite a lot of physical training. Cycling, running, going to the gym; everything that I could try basically. It’s something I have been doing for the last 15 years. It started with Christian Knutsen, our CTO at IK-Group, he said to me once, “Stefan, I think you should start to use the bicycle to work as well.” So, I started and from then on, I have been cycling every morning and haven’t turned back. It’s a good way to start the day, as it’s about 12 kilometres to the office.
What is your work background?
Perhaps the most obvious thing is I don’t have a mechanical background. My education was as a carpenter; not building houses and timber frames, much more precise in a workshop building windows and doors etc. It was not too dissimilar from what I am doing now, using machines to produce products to with high degree of detail and tolerances. It fits quite good together. My background helped me to see solutions and to operate different machines. It fits quite good together and it gave me the practical understanding and skillset that I use day in day out.
How did you get into the industry from there?
I had a friend who started in the oil industry here in Norway and he said to me, “Stefan, I think you should start with this as well.” That was in 1997. He knew about some jobs and positions that could be a good fit for me. Initially I jumped on to a drilling course to gain a bit more knowledge about drilling and the industry specifically. That was in January, and I got my first job in industry in the August. That role was not in drilling specifically, but in the production side.
To this day I am still in the Oil and Gas industry and I am probably going to be in it for many years to come. I still get great enjoyment from it.
What is your current role at IK and explain a little bit about what you do?
I am a Workshop Supervisor for IK-Group. The normal process would be that I get a project assigned and then I'm usually on that project from the beginning right to the end. Depending on how big the projects are, I could even be involved in the ‘kick-off’ process, or part of the meetings where we discuss and agree on different solutions that could work for our client. I also work closely to the engineers, finding solutions and working out the best way to do a particular job. I like this way of working to be honest, to be on a project from start to finish and even going offshore as a part of the installation. It can be very rewarding being part of the whole process.
Of course, I work very closely with Hallgeir our Workshop Manager and with all the other colleagues in the workshop. Although I tend to work on projects from start to finish, there is still quite a lot of variation in my day-to-day work. After 20 years at IK, I'm pretty much into everything that is happening in the workshop and that is the way I like it. A typical day is to follow the given project and solve the problems that show up during that particular day. It's good fun actually.
Do you work with of all of our business areas?
It's definitely a mix. I work in all the departments, so it's hard to say. I have done a lot for the Subsea business area, but in the last few months I have been involved more and more with the AOGV. As I said earlier, I enjoy the variation, it makes every day different. You never know what's going to happen when the client calls and says they need some help with something; it's never the same problem either! Almost always it's something new. It is exciting and keeps us interested and motivated.
What are the main problems that you see customers coming to IK with and how do you find the solutions?
It's an answer that is quite interesting, when the client comes to us and like I said, it is almost never the same problem twice. If the project comes through the Subsea business area, then they will ask me if I have any thoughts about the problem, some specific details or solutions. My practical experience as a skilled mechanic is definitely valued in certain situations. I think it's good when the engineers and mechanics work closely together trying to find good solutions. You need some practical people, and you need engineers. Very often we find good solutions together which is what it’s all about when it comes to being a good team.
How long have you been with IK-Group?
I have been with IK for 20 years this year. It feels more like 10 years, but that's probably a sign that you have been having a lot of good days. When I first started at IK there were only around 10 people working here at that time, now there are over 80 employees in Norway alone and something like 130 employees across the Group. In fact, there are only 4 people who have been here longer than me!
When we split from our previous parent company, we were around 10 people and it started with only a few small projects. Over time as we grew, the projects become larger and more challenging. It’s exciting to see and to have been a part of that process and the continued growth of IK.
I was also part of the very first AOGV project to be completed. The AOGV technology is really interesting, revolutionary in fact, and it looks like it will change the way companies operate worldwide. This exciting technology will definitely lead us into an exciting future.
Is there a project you have worked on that stands out to you as your proudest achievement at IK?
Yes! It is definitely a subsea project in Angola two years ago. It was approximately 1500-meter water depth on the oil field; you may know it as the ‘world’s deepest’ subsea repair’. That really was a challenging project which I was involved with from start to finish. To add to the list of challenges, this was successfully and safely executed during the early stages of the COVID pandemic. All of the COVID restrictions meant it was difficult to travel to Angola, so it turned out the client hired a private jet to bring us to Africa. We spent 20 days in quarantine and then 10 weeks out on the vessel. I was there from the 16th of April and not back in Norway until the 18th of July. It turned out to be a success and, in the end, a great project that definitely elevated IK’s name as the go-to for when things are really difficult. It also looks like we are going to do a few more projects in Angola at the end of this year, that is also going to be a challenge. It's going to be a lot of testing here in the workshop and probably in a subsea pool, so again something different, something interesting.
What problems do you see our industry facing in the future?
I would have to say the unstable and unpredictable situation in the world we are facing today. The world has become more and more connected, so when something happens somewhere, everyone can feel it. These things often effect our industry negatively, a good example being the pandemic. All these things make it hard to predict the future. You can predict that oil and gas consumption is going to be up and down in the next 5 - 10 years as we transition; things like that are normally easier to predict. But it’s not so easy to see to a global pandemic coming.
I remember just before the pandemic hit, we had a lot of projects in the pipeline. Everything looked good and almost everybody was positive about the future, and then suddenly it just changed almost overnight. It was a scary time and how quickly it can just turn. But we as an organisation are used to solving some of our industries most complex challenges, so we knew we would find the right solution and continue through whatever was put in front of us.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
I am really happy with my situation right now, so I see the next 10 years being more of the same. I’m a very positive person, I want the next 10 years to be full of good choices, continuing with my health and fitness and to still love my work every day.
If you like the sound of being part of this team, head to our careers page and apply today - Careers | IK-Group (ik-worldwide.com)