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60 Seconds With – Bob Smith

Insights |  6.25.2022
On March 31st, Robert (Bob) Smith, Aramark Offshore’s Heli Admin Steward onboard the Ailsa platform, was awarded the "Best Health Improvement" at the TotalEnergies annual HSE Awards. This award ‘personifies an individual or team that has developed and /or introduced an initiative or activity that has led to health improvement on TotalEnergies sites or offices.’ 
Bob, who is retiring this year after 40 years offshore, spoke to us about winning this award, his time with Aramark and his experiences offshore as he prepares for his final trip before his retirement. 

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Bob Smith, and I was born in Buckie, Scotland. I am married with two children and two grandchildren. 
I am a big sports fan, but football and golf are my favourites. Most people I know in Buckie support Celtic however, I am a Rangers supporter as they were the underdogs when I was growing up.
I left school at 18 and worked in a hotel prior to joining Denholms Ship Management as an Engineer Cadet. After qualifying, I spent three years on various ships as a Junior Engineer. As a Cadet, you had to look after your own cabin, and this helped when I decided to try and get a job offshore. 

You have spent the last 40 years working offshore. How did you get into this industry?
I had met my future wife, Rhoda, and didn’t want a long-distance relationship and wanted to be closer to her. My friend’s father knew that the catering company he worked for were recruiting stewards, so I thought I’d give it a try, with the aim of possibly moving into the engineering side of things. However, as I found I really like catering, I decided that this was the path to follow and the rest, as they say, is history. 

What are your best memories from your time working offshore?
Over 40 years, I have met a lot of characters, been on a lot of rigs and installations, and seen a lot of changes. I’ve really enjoyed my last few years on the Ailsa. We serve food to about 40-45 people on average and it’s a very friendly place to work. You get to know people better on the smaller rigs, which I’ve been grateful for.
The laughs outweigh the tears and some people from 30 years ago still keep in touch. I’ve been on several rig golf outings and enjoy the camaraderie of my fellow golfers. 
While I am not a trained chef, I am quite a good cook. I have made a local Scottish delicacy - Cullen Skink (smoked fish soup) on several installations and even been asked for the recipe! Many of the deck crew were ex-fisherman so this dish was a favourite of theirs. 

You were recently awarded the ‘Best Health improvement’ award at the TotalEnergies HSE Awards. Can you tell us a bit about what this award and what it meant to you? 
I was nominated for the award due to my efforts to keep spirits up with jokes, bad singing, running quizzes, dart competitions, and weekly football forecasts and ‘scorecasts’ to raise funds for the sports and social group. 
Knowing what my peers think of me was award enough, but to win this award was special as I never expected to win anything. Seeing all the other nominees and winners, who I was standing beside at the end of the ceremony, made me feel very humbled.

You are preparing for your final trip offshore before your retirement. Have you any plans for this next chapter of your life? 
Rhoda has a long list of jobs for me, so I’ll need to find a part time job to escape! I will also continue to play golf and try to reduce my (high) handicap and next year we have our daughter’s wedding to look forward to.
In the longer term, we hope to visit Spain for a few months to travel to some of the towns we have never seen before and relax with a bit of heat instead of the cold Scottish Winter. I am looking forward to this new time in life but will miss my peers on the rig. 

Many thanks for speaking to us today, Bob. Wishing you all the best with your retirement.